Monday, December 20, 2010

Keys to Good Cooking

The CC received the latest Harold McGee book as a gift, and he started reading it right away. Clearly, the CC's friends know what will make the CC salivate.

Strangely, the book felt awfully flat. It started seeming like a (absurdly) well-researched book but without any context. A newcomer encountering this book would be hopelessly lost, and the experienced cook would find it to be a parade of the obvious.

The CC was a bit dejected at this point since he is a big fan.

Then, he came across the following paragraph, and his heart lept with joy:
My father likes his hamburger rarer than rare — "Wave it near the grill," he would say — and he regularly suffered for it. Ground meats are among the foods most frequently contaminated with harmful microbes. When he moved close enough for me to cook for him, I told him that I would take care of his hamburger habit, and developed a way to prepare the meat to ensure its safety even when it's barely cooked (see p. 240). Ever since, both of us have been able to relax and enjoy our burgers without a second thought.
The CC loves his steak tartare, and the like. What followed on page 240 was so unbelievably obvious, and yet so elegant and unique that it's a total surprise that this is not more known.

As far as the CC was concerned, the book was redeemed, and Harold McGee can now be reinstated to his pedestal.

The "solution" which is totally obvious is:
  • Buy beef of excellent quality where the interior is unlikely to be contaminated.
  • The exterior will always be contaminated since microbes and fungus are in the air all around us.
  • Microbes are killed by boiling water.
  • Insert the steak in boiling water for 30-60 seconds to kill the external microbes.
  • Immediately dunk in an ice-bath to stop the cooking (= rare beef.)
  • Do what you will to get your beef rare (burgers, tartare, etc.)
  • Consume immediately.
  • Quelle elegance!

    No comments: