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Posts posted by HowardLi

  1. Firmer?  Add a whole egg instead of just yolks, it's the egg white, that provides the firmness.


    In regards to crème brulee, there's not much difference between S.V. and poaching in a waterbath, really not much difference at all....

    Maybe not for the procedure the OP described, but some recipes would have you SV in a bag and then pour out into the ramekins for setting in the fridge. This has not worked for me before.

  2. Yes, but if you didn't want to use a valve to control the temperature, you could instead moderate the heat input to the cooker so that the heat in = heat out at the desired temp/pressure. Therefore, temperature control by heat equilibrium rather than by pressure relief.


    Admittedly, spring valves are fairly easy to set, but precise control of the heat would make it essentially foolproof to maintain the proper pressure.

    Actually, that is one appliance which will never need temperature control. It is self regulating by definition, at exactly 250F, always. 



  3. I answered in a way that I thought would spur discussion. You'll note that I did not present Blonder's position as fact, merely that it was his position. If anyone has reason to believe Blonder is wrong, I would be the happiest person to hear it.


    To me, Blonder seems to be the one who has done the most "science" on this issue. I worship no gods.

    gfweb offfered an opinion on bark.


    You've offered Bonder's opinion, that you present as fact, on bark.


    Did you pose the question(s) so that you could present the correct anwers?  (Correct answers of course based on what others opined elsewhere on the internet...)

  4. I suspect bark is more Maillard than dessication.



    Blonder says the color is contributed by Maillard but that the texture is from the formation of a pellicle, enhanced by smoke and accelerated in development by dryness and heat.


    Bark that is excessively thick is certainly not good either. However, a simple adjustment of time, temperature, and perhaps humidity should easily rectify that.


    @Shalmanese I don't have any BBQ handy to do that test, but I am very familiar with Chinese char siu (red BBQ pork). The pellicle on that will not rinse off, and I think that it would constitute bark but for the lack of smoke during cooking.

  5. 1)  pellicle is desirable for smoking things without a rub but it will form on its own in  the smoker for things like pulled pork or brisket under the rub. 

    If you are smoking something like a wet cured bacon or even more importantly fish, then letting the surface form a pellicle before smoking is a great idea.  The pellicle will also help things like fish from getting too dry while smoking. 


    2) RH%   Myron Mixon is a legend on the BBQ circuit and he smokes hot and fast with a very high RH% .  It takes less time, saves fuel and he argues gives more consistent results, but even he admits that the bark suffers for it. 


    3) see  1) 


    4)  the stall doesn't need to be broken.  It is all about what you want from your BBQ.  If you break the stall with foil( texas crutch) it will finish faster but for my personal taste it screws up the bark.  What many ppl don't consider is that moisture that is wicking to the surface isn't pure water, it will bring water soluble  aminos with it.. Think of roast drippings.   The moisture that comes out isn't pure water.  The water evaporates and leaves those aminos behind on the surface, which is the perfect place for them.  Maillard.   There are lots of ideas about how to break the stall and still keep the bark but none forms bark quite like just pushing through the stall old school ..  This is purely my personal taste and opinon,  YMMV


    5)  Smoke is all about personal preference.  Too many ppl smoke all the way through the cook but that can give a bitter edge .  I like 2 to 3 hrs at the beginning  depending on the wood I am using.  I mop at the back end  when the stall tails off .  simply to keep the bark from burning  and I like a bit of acid in my mop, apple cider vinegar . gives a nice tang. 


    6)  I am not sure I am parsing this the way you intend it.  Rephrase  it maybe?   Are you looking for a way to have the surface be dry  so it doesn't stall ?  or just a general question  is it possible that a dry surface can still stall?     Stall is all evaporative cooling, so dry surface = no stall, but  I am pretty sure you know that if you have read Blonder. 

    6) I figure that the bark doesn't really start to form quickly until the surface becomes almost completely dry. However, in a traditional cook, this only happens after the stall since before and during the stall, the surface is moist (the very definition of being in the stall). However, I want to keep the meat as tender and juicy as possible, which means keeping it under typical stall temperatures, but WITHOUT sacrificing the bark. So somehow I need to get the surface dry, while staying around 140-150F internal temp for many hours to hydrolyze the collagen.


    The problem is that as the meat cooks, the muscle naturally begins to squeeze out the water in its cells, adding moisture to the surface. The more it cooks, the more it sweats, until such a point that the meat is so dry it can't give out any more water... which is not what I want to eat, if I'm going to go to so much damn trouble to build this smokehouse.


    In theory, what could be done is to cook at a moderate temperature (200-225F) at a fairly high humidity to get a good smoke uptake going, until the internal temperature hits about 140 F. Then, drop the temperature to about 135F and cook 24-30 hours at low RH%, i.e. with an empty water pan. Because the temperature of the air does not exceed that of the meat, the meat should stop sweating from temperature rise, and the long cook time should allow for a good (maybe even excessive) bark development.


    It all seems a little pointless now because I just re-read one of Blonder's articles about DRIP and it seems that the bark can form even if the surface isn't totally dry. Oh well.

    1. Does having a pellicle on the meat enhance the smoke uptake? Is this enhancement of the flavour, of pink ring, or both? Note that it is entirely possible to have a wet pellicle; the presence of a pellicle does not (contra)indicate the amount of surface moisture.
    2. At what RH % does bark start to form at a reasonable pace?
    3. Is there a significant advantage to bark growth if a pellicle is formed on the meat before it goes into the smoke?
    4. Why does the stall need to be broken? In sous vide cooking, the meat (typically) never goes over the usual stall temperatures. Is it because the bark won't form unless the surface is completely dry?
    5. Given that meat with more surface moisture takes on smoke better than meat with less surface moisture (Blonder), how long should the meat stay wet through the smoke? First 2 hours? First 4 hours?
    6. Is it possible to completely dry the surface of the meat during baking/smoking, without breaking through the stall?

    Trying to work through my smokehouse build and have a few open concepts in my head.

  6. Chris,


    If you were to build it again what would you do differently?


    I see that the oak boards were oriented horizontally. Wouldn't it have been a little simpler to orient them vertically so that there were fewer pieces to assemble?

  7. Sorry for the very late reply.


    It is well-known that drier skin crisps more readily than skin that has retained more water.http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/02/the-best-baked-buffalo-chicken-wings-in-oven-not-fried-appetizers.html


    The vodka may assist in this manner, or others, due to any one or combination of the following effects:


    1) The ethanol sucks the water out of the skin cells through osmosis, directly drying at least the top layer of skin

    2) The ethanol damages the cells/cell membranes, allowing them to burst more readily (?)

    3) The ethanol dissolves some of the fat in the skin, whereupon application of heat causes the ethanol to boil away and create additional blisters


    Reading material:





    hi howard
    I'm not 100% sure of what the scientific explanation for how the vodka effects the crackling
    but i am guessing that it is a combination of alkali corrosive attack on the skin and dehydrating properties of the alcohol.

    If you look back to my cooking experiment
    cooking experiment
    you can see the effect of altering the PH

    generally the more acidic or alkaline it is the better the results.

    But just as a warning we have noticed that using too much of a strong alkali might have two possible detrimental effects
    1. it may cause the crackling to lift off the meat
    2. it may cause the fat to saponify which will leave an undesirable flavour

    but yes i believe that vodka might increase the malliard reaction in this case as in the experiment, i did notice that the vodka and lye piece were blistering much earlier then the others.

    I've never seen the need to brine pork belly for roast pork.
    I think brining pork is only of use if your piece is particularly lean or you want to add some additional flavour to the meat.

    but you can always give it a try and see what happens :)

  8. Now to take this in a slightly different direction: it's fairly well-known that a piece of meat, if SV cook-chilled, should not be salted beforehand so as to avoid curing of the meat during refrigerated storage, per Dave Arnold and others. However, if it is desirable to have salting through the meat and not just on the surface, how effectively does surface-sprinkled salt diffuse into the cooked meat, and does the temperature affect the salting?

  9. So we know that raw meat has no problem allowing many different molecules to diffuse through itself. Salt is the first thing that comes to mind. But how does the degree of doneness of the meat affect its propensity to allow diffusion? How effective is e.g. salting after a steak has been seared? Or can a long-cook meat be cooked separately from a braise or a stew and still be flavored throughout by the liquid, after it has been added back in?


    My specific question is whether or not it is beneficial to SV a meat and then reintroduce it into a stew so that it doesn't get overcooked. However, (and maybe this isn't a disadvantage) it bears thinking about whether the inside of each piece of meat would be flavored by the stew itself.

  10. The only sound that comes from my KRs is the normal 'hissing' that goes on.

    Maybe you have the heat set too high?  Do you put it on high heat until regulator pops up and then turn it down as low as possible to achieve the correct pressure?

    I don't think it's a question of the heat being too high. Once my spring valve starts going beyond the first line, there shouldn't be any more boiling inside. But there is.


    And yeah, it's hissing all the time, even though it hasn't built pressure yet.

  11. The KR is supposed to keep everything contained until the pressure is greater than 15 psi. Above that point, I would definitely agree that it is supposed to vent. Otherwise, it isn't - and if it isn't venting, then there shouldn't be any boiling once the gas pressure is in equilibrium or greater than the vapour pressure of the water (or whatever it is, my high school chemistry is failing me on this point).


    I called into their service line a few months ago asking about this since I thought it would be covered under warranty, but they said the valve assembly thingy was a wear item and not covered. I've had it for less than 2 years and used it an embarassingly low number of times.

    I am not sure what makes "non-venting" PC possible. For non-venting to happen, the BTU from the fire must be 100% equal to the (a) total radiant (IR) heat lost and well as (b) heat lost by conduction to outside air. If the fire is a little hotter than (a) & (b), non-venting is not possible.


    If the fire is less than (a) & (b), the pressure inside will not be building up to meet temperature specification.


    Just curious.



  12. Then why not just brine the vegetables before cooking them?

    So, I asked my chef about this yesterday as he was baking celery roots in a similar salt dough. He replied that many things, if baked in salt alone, simply become too salty; the salt-and-flour crust lets you control the amount of salt you use, while still fully encasing the vegetable in it.

  13. HowardLi,

    When you add the starch to the marinade to make the batter, the wings and the mixture need to be mixed until the batter is fully emulsified. If there are still visible spots of oil in the batter, then it is not mixed enough. Once the batter is emulsified, it should stick to the wings better, and be ready for frying.



    Thanks, that makes sense. But if such mixing is critical to the success of the recipe, and it appears to be so, shouldn't the marinade then be drained (and added back later) so that the emulsification be done more readily?

    Two more questions: what is the emulsifying agent, and what purpose does the oil in the marinade serve?

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