Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stop the Insanity

What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer. - Francis Bacon


Anyone who works in a restaurant deserves respect. It doesn't matter if you are slaving on the line trying to keep your fluid levels up while the instant read on your shoulder reads 14oº, or just trying to get that caked up crud off the silver before it goes back to the front of the house. Chef, line cook, prep cook, salad bitch or dish dog - all are worthy of respect.

There is a special place in the pantheon for the cook who manages to parlay his/her skills in the kitchen "empire". You can lose the quality by spreading youself to thin (see, English, Todd) or simply crash and burn (see, DiSpirito, Rocco). But by doing this you may get an appearance on a television show. Maybe a nationally syndicated one. Fine. You have done your work and made your bones. So don't frak it up by repeating one of the oldest cooking canards around - especially in front of your son. YOUR SON!

Two weeks ago Richard Sandoval , owner of like 14 reastaurants, was on the PBS show Chef's a Field, with his son, spouting the calumny that one sears the meat to seal in the juices. It doesn't work that way!

This is not applying a lit torch to a recently hacked off limb to cauterize the bleeding (I love that scene in The Vikings when Erik frees Ragnar's hands and gives him his sword so he can die fighting as a Viking. Then Aella hacks off the hand that freed Ragnar).

There are just too many signs that this belief is a false assumption - ending in the pool of jus that collects on the cutting board after your perfectly cooked strip steak has rested (you are resting your steaks, arent you?). Sop some of that up with a piece of nice crusty bread and tell me those juices were sealed in!

You don't have to trust me. In the culinary world where opinions are the rule, there is one voice that is pretty universally accepted. The voice is that of Harold McGee. "Searing does not seal in the juices" The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore at page16. Argue with him at your own peril.

Now don't take any of that as meaning you shouldn't get that cast iron skillet smoking hot and flop that slab of beef in it. Plenty of good things happen (see, Reaction, Maillard).

But, when you get yourself on a syndicated TV cooking show, know the basics of our craft.

That means you too, Emeril!

Here endeth the lesson.

3 comments:

Bob del Grosso said...

If searing meat sealed in juices, than once seared the meat would cease to lose weight while it cooked because there would be no loss of juice (essentially water) to vaporization.

Show me ONE person who has bothered to check the weight of meat before and after cooking who spouts this "searing the meat seals in juices" idiocy and I will show you a monkey. Not that I have a monkey...OK, I'll show you a dog -I've got two.

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

Chefs at CIA are pretty specific about this as well.

I have found a web-site that disputes McGee, well doesn't actually dispute him but rather that McGee hasn't really proved his case. Much of the rest of the logic could not be followed.

I do remember that as a good movie, although that is about the only scene I remember.

Scotty said...

The weight issue is key Bob, but long before Brother McGee showed me that proof, my other senses proved the searing thing wrong: My ears heard constant hissing, my nose sensed a moist aroma, looking over the pan my skin sensed that moisture. My eyes saw steam and later jus coming out before my first cut.

And you show me the dog, I'll raise you a cat who eats lemongrass and pukes up all over the house.

Warner, you don't remember Kirk Douglas's corpse being set afire by flaming arrows to Mario Nascimbene's Valhalla theme?





Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -
Me