Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Dr. on standby

I was given Heston Blumenthal's wonderful book, "In Search of Perfection" for Christmas last year. Even though Heston Blumenthal can be quite intimidating, his method of cooking steak intrigued me. It also provide me with an opportunity to acquire a hithertoo banned piece of kitchen equipment - namely a blowtorch.

The method involves cooking (?) the meat (a 2 bone rib) very slowly indeed. The oven temperature during the process must not rise above 120 degrees (or about 50 degrees Celsius). The meat has to be held at this temperature for around 16 hours. Madame's first thought was this is ideal bacteria colony temperature! Hence the blow torch.

The recipe calls for the outside of the rib roast to be seared with the blow torch - unseasoned. That should kill any surface bugs. Then the meat is transferred to the oven, and cooked for 16 hours after the internal temperature has reached 115-120. In my oven it takes about 8 hours for the meat to get to 116. I warm the oven before the meat goes in (at the lowest setting) and then turn the light on. That holds it at the right temperature for the requisite period.

Once the meat is "cooked", it is sliced off the bones, and then recooked to the desired doneness on a grill or cast iron griddle. We typically eat medium rare, so I cook the meat on the grill to an internal temp of 130.

Madame was, of course, not impressed by all of this. She was convinced that she would be poisoned, so we invited our family doctor to dinner as well. He came armed with great wines (the ulterior motive for inviting him) and the emergency room telephone number. Other friends were advised of the dangers, but they were up for the experience too. Their appetizers and desserts provided the perfect start and finish to the dinner

The meat was the star! Blumenthal was right. Tender, juicy, flavorfull, Perfect. Served with mushroom ketchup (also from Blumenthal's book), Pommes Anna (from the Cooks Illustrated recipe - http://cooksillustrated.com/) and an iceberg salad. Wow! Who needs to go to a steakhouse?

It takes a long time, but little effort. And it gives an excuse to buy a blowtorch. What more could a guy want?

No comments: