steak

The science of steak

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is my go to guy for food stuff on the internet. He’s amazing. He likes busting food myths with the power of science for the betterment of us all.

Last week he turned his powers to a subject dear to my heart.

Steak.

Delicious steak.

Busting seven myths including the “you should only turn a steak once” myth…

The reality is that multiple flipping will not only get your steak to cook faster—up to 30% faster!—but will actually cause it to cookmore evenly, as well. This is because—as food scientist and writer Harold McGee has explained—by flipping frequently, the meat on any given side will neither heat up nor cool down significantly with each turn. If you imagine that you can flip your steak infinitely fast, then you can see that what ends up happening is that you approximate cooking the steak simultaneously from both sides, but at a gentler pace. Gentler cooking = more even cooking.

While it’s true that it takes a bit longer over the hot side of the grill to build up the same level of crust in a multi-flipper steak, the fact that it cooks more evenly means that you can cook over the hot side a bit longer, without the risk of burning the outside before the center cooks. You can also avoid creating a harsh temperature gradient inside the meat, as you would if you were to cook it entirely over the hot side without flipping.

 

How to eat cheap steak, cheap skate.

If you’re not already familiar with this secret it’ll blow your mind/tastebuds.

I think I learned it from a segment on the today show – but this cooking site has diagrams so it’s much more scientific and believable. The key to making an expensive steak taste good is salt. The other secret is to buy the fattest cheap steak you can find.

Steak Recipe: Massively salt your steaks 15 min – 1 hour before grilling.

Notice that I didn’t say, “sprinkle liberally” or even “season generously.” I’m talking about literally coating your meat until you can’t see red. It should resemble a salt lick.

Let that meat be totally overwhelmed with the salt for 1 hour or less. Rinse, pat dry dry dry and then you’re ready to grill.

All of you who season JUST before grilling – this is what you are really doing to the meat. Did you know that? All the water comes to the surface and if you don’t pat super-dry, you’re basically STEAMING the meat. Plus, your salt just sits on the surface of the steak, leaving the interior tasteless.

You can thank me – and the orignal writer – later when you taste just how good salty steak can be. Salt really is the world’s most magical substance.

Good water use

Last time I posted something pointing out how awesomely unsustainable the use of water in production of coffee is people jumped up and down screaming and we ended up talking about the plight of battery hens.

Here’s another picture from Good (click it for full size) highlighting how coffee is not the worst of the bunch, and suggesting giving up steak as well. Greens arguing for not eating meat… that’s original.

Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook

Today is national bad similie day. I’ve just declared it. Hence this post will be filled with them – like a flea circus on the back of a mangy dog.

Our little car that could, a red kia Picanto, chews through fuel like a fire breather chews through kerosene – quickly and in spectacular fashion.

We made the 100km journey from Lake Tekapo (a quaint lakeside village) to Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) in double quick time – like tinned food on pension day…

Actually, we were slowed unexpectedly by a chain of cattle at muster time. These cows – we guessed there were about 200 of them (a fifty/fifty split between adults and calves) – were travelling between paddocks – along the road. We spent some time travelling in cattle class – and some further comic release was provided when an add for a local butcher came on over the radio. We promptly wound the window up so as not to scare the locals into some sort of frenzied stampede.

Mount Cook is a glacial behemoth. It has killed over 130 people. So deadly is it that the Visitor Information Centre includes a book listing those who have died – and a video of a recent rescue effort that ended with the untimely demise of the rescued climber.

The base of the mountain is also home to the Sir Edmund Hillary centre – a museum dedicated to the kiwi mountaineer.

The coffee at the Edmund Hillary centre’s cafe was bad – like a similie without a corroborative noun. How hard can it be to make a palatable coffee?

The cattle were still lowing on the way back. En route I was surprised by the amount of roadkill on New Zealand roads.

The only billboards we’ve seen on our travels have been for road safety – and it seems that sentiment doesn’t extend to animals. The distance between Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo was 106km. On our journey we counted 136 individual pieces of roadkill. Birds, possums, rabbits, unidentifiable fur balls.  That’s a road kill index of 1.28 animals per kilometre. I’m sure that’s high. In fact, there was a 20km stretch about 10 minutes out of Mount Cook that accounted for 48 pieces of roadkill – a significantly higher roadkill index of 2.4. Is there anywhere else that boasts a figure like that? If so, I haven’t seen it.

The township of Lake Tekapo is a small town on a big lake. There’s not a whole lot of exciting stuff there. There is a Peppers Resort – which is where we stayed. Our track record with Peppers hasn’t been great. It was a Peppers Resort that lost our booking on our wedding night – almost leaving us sleeping in a stable… before upgrading us to the one available luxury room. This Peppers experience was much better. On our second night in Lake Tekapo we dined in house at the restaurant, and enjoyed a fine sirloin steak and superb lamb rump.

One of the township’s famous attractions is the Church of the Good Shepherd – an old stone chapel built right on the lake. We spent a bit of time at twilight last night taking photos in what was pretty photogenic light.

Some photos were more serious than others
Some photos were more serious than others

The chapel is a working church – shared by the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Catholics in town – outside the chapel there’s a little letterbox styled post – asking for donations. There’s no need to pass the plate around if your church is a tourist attraction.

Heres one we prepared earlier
Here's one we prepared earlier

Actually, this afternoon we toured the Christchurch Cathedral – having only seen the outside on our first stop. They “encourage” a five dollar donation, and those looking for a “truly memorable” experience can donate a church chair for just $320.

As I’ve already pre-empted – like a US president’s foreign policy – this morning our trip came full circle – back to Christchurch. We’re at the Off the Square boutique motel which is the first place we’ve stayed to offer free broadband. Tonight’s dinner was probably the best of the trip. Bailies Pub, just around the corner from the hotel and the cathedral, cooked up a sensational sirloin steak with mashed potato. And Robyn’s lamb shanks were cooked to perfection.

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