Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seeing red - meat that is

In a previous post (when will it be done?) , I wrote about rate of change - knowing when something will be done by observing its rate of change of temperature increase. There is a flip side to this. When faced with a tricky challenge - in this case very uneven pieces of meat, how do you manage the cooking so that it all comes out OK. As always, there is a story.
For the Steak au Poivre, I wanted three nice pieces of New York strip. I asked the butcher at the local "Central Market" for 3 pieces of about 12 oz each. That isn't what I got, as I discovered when I got home. One piece was a honking great 16 oz - about 1 inch thick. One piece was about the 12oz that I asked for and a bit thinner. One was about 9 oz and much thinner. We all wanted medium rare steaks, so what to do?
Luckily my old friend rate of change comes to the rescue. I know that the large piece will take the longest to cook (and as it happens, I will eat meat more rare than anyone else), so that piece went into the pan a full minute before the next sized piece. The last piece went in a full three minutes after the first piece. I flipped the steaks in order (largest first). When the largest piece was done, they all were.
So the moral of the story - good technique and taking size into account, you can adjust the major variable (time) to suit the dish at hand.

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