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Everything posted by Qwerty

  1. How do you overwork meat? He was probably trying to get the air out of the patties. Air bubbles can burst inside pate's and make grainy textures, and of course, holes. It's pretty common practice to sort of "slam" a pate mold on the counter a bit to do the same thing. That would be my guess. ← I get why the slamming would work with pate, but not a burger. Many recipes I have for burgers, meat loafs, meatballs etc. say "do not overwork meat." To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how you overwork meat, but I'm fairly certain I've done it. After I competed in the National Beef Cookoff with a meatball recipe, a Food Network reporter who had been in the judging room told me that the judges said I "overworked the meat." Overworking meat has been a has been a concern of mine since then. Just for kicks I tried the slamming technique today when I made burgers. Can't say I figured out what it was supposed to accomplish, except maybe make patties of even thickness. The mystery continues. ← Ok, I don't know exactly how Richard made his pate, so I can only tell you based on my own experience. When you make a meat based emulsion (sausage, pate, etc.) you purposefully overwork the meat, I suppose, just by the process. First of all, grinding the meat. Second, one almost always either mixes it in a standing mixer or food processor, which will release the myosin protein from the muscles. This is, in essence, meat glue which binds the proteins together and creates a nice texture. I think it would be hard to "overwork" meat in a pate. Now, for a meatball, or a hamburger, etc, which is still essentially the same thing (different protein, different % of fat, but still similar) I have difficulty seeing how you could overwork a patty. Perhaps it is a combination of releasing myosin and then cooking it to a temp which will cause the proteins to seize up (i.e. a stewed meatball or a grilled burger) vs. a pate or terrine which is assumed to be cooked at a lower, slower, gentler temperature. Again, the slamming of the meat is, IIRC, an effort to release any air bubbles that may be trapped in the mold. That may be Richard's thought process behind slamming the patties on the hotel pan. I'm not 100%, but it would be my guess. What you described happens to proteins anyways...they constrict, release water, and coagulate. I suppose I can see that argument for a burger or a meatball, though I would argue that a dry meatball or burger is more from overcooking than overmixing any meat. I have trouble buying that argument.
  2. How do you overwork meat? He was probably trying to get the air out of the patties. Air bubbles can burst inside pate's and make grainy textures, and of course, holes. It's pretty common practice to sort of "slam" a pate mold on the counter a bit to do the same thing. That would be my guess.
  3. I don't really look at it like he's being just an asshole to be an asshole....I look at it like a boot camp mentality where he "breaks down" his recruits then builds them into a serious culinary team. The first few weeks are always the toughest to get rid of the most glaring weak links. It's actually quite effective psychology--keep them seeking/wanting approval, denying it (to an obscene level) so that every small victory gives confidence and is a building block for better things. If you've seen his other shows (except Boiling Point, of course ) then you'll know that the constant yelling/cussing is not really what he is about, it's just a means to an end to whip these idiotic "chefs" into shape--remember that one is supposed to be exec. at his LA restaurant. I'd be acting like him if I had a similar group of rubes up for the job. Of course some of it is for ratings, but I don't think he's an abomination or anything. If you watch him carefully (and not on HK) he's actually quite articulate, knowledgeable and a good mentor. Remember that a lot of his key staff has been with his since before his namesake restaurant even existed--that kind of loyalty by staff isn't given out to people who don't deserve it. What I will say, while he may not be "furthering food appreciation," at the very least he makes working and toiling in a kitchen and a restaurant look like very hard work (which it is). Maybe people will begin to realize that a great plate of food, terrific service, and great ambiance don't all just magically appear--they must be worked and strived for on a daily basis.
  4. Qwerty

    "Behind You"

    Really? Interesting. I would think that "Down the line.." would be akin to "Coming Through" which roughly translates to: "You better figure out where I am and where I am going and get the freak out of the way because these people have been waiting 45 minutes for this plate and they are getting it right now even if I have to run over you and believe me I will." As opposed to "Behind You" that to my mind translates to: "For your personal safety and well being, stand exactly where you are and if possible lean forward a bit or you will die an ugly death." ← Ugh, thank you for pointing that out. Too many people mistake "behind you" for "coming through" "coming down" "excuse me" or whatever. It's one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says behind you then expects you to move out of their way. So aggravating. I hate it when they get angry too, like "Behind you.....BEHIND YOU!" Idiots.
  5. I'm confused--you don't use bechemel because it ends up tasting like the other ingredients in the dish? Or do you mean that it "absorbs" the flavor and you can't taste the green onion, curry, etc because the bechemel is masking them? Anyways, first thing I would say is that if you love the original recipe why change it? Who cares if it uses cambells soup? Next, if you are intent upon trying different things to try and improve the flavor, I have a few suggestions. You could try making what is classically called a veloute sauce, in this case it would be a nicely fortified chicken broth/stock that you thicken with a roux. If you can make a bechemel you can make a veloute--just substitute chicken stock for the milk. This might give you a closer taste to the cream of chicken soup, while still improving the overall mouthfeel and taste from the original. I don't know the original recipe, but you also might try: As you simmer the veloute to cook out the flour, you might try fortifying it with additional vegetables and herbs. This may include things like onions, carrots, thyme, basil, whatever, but it may help "deepen" the flavor of the dish. Toasting the curry briefly before adding to the recipe, and adding it near the beginning of the cooking/simmering so that the curry has enough time to bloom deeply flavor the dish. Fresh lemon juice and scallions near the end to preserve freshness. Seriously maybe try the veloute--it seems you are subbing milk/cream for chicken and that might be the missing ingredient to your dish.
  6. I mean, one way or the other you are going to pay for the bread. If they don't directly ask you to pay for it if you want it, they will at least raise the prices of the other food to cover the cost of the bread. Almost all menu pricing reflects these costs anyways--the variables, such as extra sauce, ketchup, butter, bread, tobasco, whatever. So, instead of charging for bread they should just raise the price of every item a dollar or two? At least with them charging for it you have the option.
  7. Well, just off the top of my head... Basic butchering techniques, like skinning fish and taking down whole chickens. You could cover basic curing and brining, things like pork brines, salt cures for fish. Confit techniques. Quick pickles (you know, covered in vinegar/water/sugar) Pan sauces? Custards, both savory and sweet (quiche, creme brulee, etc) Thats all I got for now....
  8. Qwerty

    Dinner! 2008

    Kudos for roasting whole fish....I know this is eGullet and such, but still, don't see that as often as we should in this country. I try to get my friends/family to eat whole roasted fish and they won't have it.
  9. Lexans or hotels are the preferred choices I believe....
  10. Thanks for the links. Has anyone experimented with doing sabayon type sauces sous vide? I've heard of people using the water baths to get the eggs right to the proper temp needed without double boilers, whipping, etc. Anyone tried it?
  11. What kind of water did you use? Maybe try bottled water...? Was there residue in the mixing bowl?
  12. Wow, I try to keep up with this thread a bit, but I had no idea that setting up a water bath was so easy to do and relatively affordable at home. I'm just a poor line cook so the investment is still pretty significant, but it is definitely do-able. I have some pro experience with sous vide but the place I worked at didn't do a very good job with it IMO. I'm anxious to experiment at home. Is there any info out there (like a spreadsheet, table, etc) that shows recommended times and temps for this stuff?
  13. So can anyone explain how swearing is unprofessional?
  14. So what did you end up doing?
  15. Yeah, I think there really is a disconnect between what people think professional means. I know many, many people in other walks of life that curse just as much or more than anyone I've met in the kitchen. I don't see how cursing or not cursing is professional or not professional. I mean, do people really think coarse language is relegated to "blue collar" type jobs? So, doctors, lawyers, businessmen/women, teachers, real estate brokers, computer programmers, etc. don't curse? Lol. Seriously, will you please explain to me how not cursing equals professionalism? Now, I can see wanting to raise the level of certain behaviors to appear more professional...things like showing up on time, organization, focus, drive, efficiency, etc. But I don't think cursing has anything to do with being professional or not.
  16. Lol, so you want to do a complicated sauce out of basic ingredients? I mean, veg, chicken stock, cream etc. is the stuff to do a pan sauce, so it's hard to go above and beyond with such basic ingredients. If you have access to other vegetables you could do a coulis sauce (carrot, red pepper, etc). You could do something with coffee or espresso, you could fortify and reduce the chicken stock and make a clarification and use it as a sauce (broth/sauce), chocolate and make a bastardized mole sauce....I dunno. I don't know how to make a pan sauce more complicated...
  17. I'm assuming that your chef just wants to see if you can do a basic pan sauce....my advice would be to do something like cook your chicken breast, and while it is resting, drain out excess fat from the pan (if any) and saute some things like mushrooms, shallots, garlic, leeks, etc, then deglaze with a bit of wine/sherry, then add the stock...you can add a bit of cream if you wish, reduce until nice consistency and mount with butter. Make sure it is seasoned nicely and you are good to go. If you want to make it more complicated than that I have no ideas for you.
  18. Qwerty

    About roux

    The reason to use clarified butter for a roux is pretty simple...roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour. Whole butter is not 100% fat...it has a significant amount of water and other things. Clarified butter is 100% fat, so using it ensures a proper roux. Now, thats not to say that using whole butter is "wrong" or won't give you results, it's simply not the "textbook" way to do it, hence it is in your textbook. Those burnt clumps are more than likely little bits of flour that weren't fully incorporated into the fat, and essentially don't have the protective heat barrier that fully integrated flour would, so therefor it browns more quickly. I personally wouldn't worry about it too much if it is only a speck or two.
  19. Are you having trouble with the yolk leaking, or with getting the white to set? Or something else? I can never get the last stranghold of white around the yolk to set without cooking the whole thing to death or going over easy. I've tried water instead of oil, spooning hot oil onto the egg (this kinda worked but the egg was soooo greasy and nasty), tight lid, no lids. I just can't get the hang of it. ← You can also try using the spatula to "cut" through the area where the white isn't setting around the yolk and pushing away the cooked part on the bottom to expose the white to the heat. Ever make an omelet? You know how you kind of cut the eggs and force the uncooked egg on top into the holes? It's the same principle...it works for me. I've seen a lot of cooks also let the egg spend a few seconds under the salamander. You might try pre-heating your broiler and holding it directly under the heat source. The whites set at a lower temp than the whites, so you should be OK just be careful.
  20. If I remember, when making a sabayon or custard type sauce, heating to about 160-165 should do the trick. Acid and sugar will raise the coagulation point of the egg proteins a little bit, so you might be able to get away with 170-ish. You will notice as you stir or whisk the yolks that the mixture first become lighter in color (this is all the air you are whipping into it) then it begins to thicken. Look at the coating on your spoon (or notice how the mixture leaves a trail on the bottom of the bowl) and you will see it get thicker. I assume you were making a curd or something similar. Did you add butter? Butter will help the curd set, but generally yes the mixture should thicken as it cools. It should look like a spoonable custard, or similar maybe to a pudding.
  21. Well, I imagine that holding my arm up, holding a bag for 20 minutes would be a little tiring. But, like, if your arm gets tired, just stop for a few minutes. You can do them in smaller batches if you want/need.
  22. I guess I just don't see what is so difficult about it. If you are holding a big, heavy bag over the water for a long time, I guess I could see it, but why not divide the batter up into several smaller bags, or just fill the bag up in batches to make it lighter? Why not construct some thing to rest the bag on above the pot of water (like, I dunno, stacking a bunch of phone books or something). I'm just saying that to deny yourself something because it is unpleasant isn't how I would do it. I would keep working to find a solution to make it less unpleasant. It gets easier the more times you do it.
  23. Now that is a great idea. Holding one arm above a pot of boiling water for however long it takes to get through the batch is why I never make them. ← Did you have shoulder surgery or something? It's not THAT hard to hold the bag and cut at the same time....you could just divide up the dough into several portions so the bag is not so heavy when you have to hold it.
  24. My opinion is that you shouldn't use clarified butter for a hollandaise style sauce because whole butter has a much richer, rounder flavor to it than simple clarified and it emulsifies just as easy. The only thing to be careful with is to watch the water/liquid content of the emulsion carefully because the butter solids can thin out the sauce too much.
  25. I suppose it would be possible for the whole unpeeled beets to get caramelized...at least, I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't. It might take a little longer and need a higher temp, but it should still do it. I should amend my statement and say that FOR ME, peeling before hand is a waste of time. If you like the caramelized edges and like the way the beets taste, then of course keep doing it that way I just feel the jackets, like on a potato, keep in more of the flavor. I "roast" my beets wrapped and sealed in foil and parchment, tossed with smashed garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. I do it at a low temp, usually like 275, until they are tender when tested with a paring knife. I say "roast" because this techniques is more like steaming in it's own juices, but I like the way the aroma stays trapped and it picks up the garlic and herbs.
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