cowboyardee's Profile

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What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/03/1...

Instant coffee mayonnaise. And - I'm not even kidding - it's awesome.

about 23 hours ago
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

was I sold wet scallops?

Yeah, probably.

about 23 hours ago
cowboyardee in General Topics

CHOW Reviews: Simply Calphalon Ceramic Nonstick 8-Inch and 10-Inch Omelet Pan Set

Reasonable strategy.

But would you agree that durability is an issue for nonstick pans that cost $50 (unless you have money to burn, anyway)? That was the point I was trying to make.

How long does it take to bake meatloaf??

The weight of the loaf has little to do with the cooking time. It's the thickness of the loaf that's the bigger factor. A thin flat-ish loaf will take MUCH less time to cook than a thick cubic loaf, given the same amount of meat used. Individual differences in desired doneness, fillers used, and the oven and the pans used in cooking also factor in.

Two people can easily use the same amount of meat cooked to the same doneness at the same temperature and find that their meatloaves take significantly different amounts of time to get there.

Jan 29, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking
1

shun knives

Several of the Henckles Miyabi lines are quite good and very well made - just as good as other Japanese knives in the same price range - so they might warrant a demo and a discussion if you're in no rush to use up those gift cards. They would be more similar to MACs (which are perfectly decent, but I wouldn't personally go so far as to call them the 'best' Western style Japanese knives) or Masamotos or Mizunos.

With that said, it's entirely possible that the Shuns are the best fit for you, and that their profile fits best with your cutting style anyway.

I'm not a professional cook, but I have sharpened knives for a number of pros, shot the shat with em (and I have quite a few friends in the business). I'm familiar enough with the culture to say this:

Yeah, the guy bragging about his new Shun like it's the best knife in the whole world despite having sloppy knife skills and a dull edge is kind of a joke in the professional kitchen. But the cook with a sharp knife who uses it very well is respected regardless of what brand he or she prefers. If a knife is a good choice for you, there's no reason to apologize for using it.

If you'll indulge to me wax philosophical:

Ultimately, I don't think that there is any such thing as the 'best' knife on the market, or even the 'best' version of any given style of knife. But at the same time, I tend to shy away from the kind of Harry Potter-esque 'find the ONE knife that is a perfect fit for you personally' theory that is pretty common for those in the market for new knives. Rather, I think that there are many knives any given user could learn to use well with a little adaptation. Pick one based on whether it's well crafted, whether it's in your budget, whether its design suits your needs and preferences in a general sense, and whether you're excited to use it.

Which cookware for making chicken tikka masala?

Depends on how long you're simmering the sauce. For longer preparations, use a lid (or foil) over the frying pan, or else add small amounts of water back to the sauce as it evaporates. If you're drying out/cooking off the sauce when simmering it for just a few minutes, your problem is probably just that your pan is too hot when the sauce is added.

FWIW, chicken breast meat doesn't take to a long simmer as well as dark meat does. If you're using breast meat, you'll often get better results by limiting how long you simmer the sauce and only cooking the chicken through rather than cooking it for very long, or else cooking the chicken separately (say, in the oven) and then only adding it to the sauce at the last minute. Breast meat tends to become somewhat tough and/or mealy when it's simmered for very long. Dark meat on the other hand becomes more luscious and is better at flavoring the sauce it's cooked in.

Jan 29, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

shun knives

Generally speaking, the Shuns should sharpen to a slightly finer edge and retain their edge longer than your Wusthof. But bear in mind that sharpness is primarily a function of sharpening, and that improving your sharpening process, frequency, or maintenance is what will most help you have a reliably sharper knife at work.

Like I said above, there's nothing wrong with Shun knives, so there's nothing wrong with getting one if you like using it. I guess I was just wondering exactly what you hope to improve by buying a new knife, since there are a lot of knives on the market that compete with Shun at the price depending on what you like.

FWIW, the most distinctive thing about the Shun chefs knife (and even santoku) is that it's one of the few Japanese knives that combine the harder steel and simpler handle common in Japanese knives with a more curved profile common in German chef knives (like your Wusthof). This means that they can be an easier transition for someone used to chopping with a lot of rocking motion with Western chef knives. But they don't excel as well as other Japanese knives at straight up-and-down chopping or push-cutting. And because Shuns use harder, more brittle steel at a lower edge angle, people who rock chop with a sloppy motion and/or a lot of downward force may find that the edge frequently develops tiny chips (not quite microscopic, but close). These can be sharpened out fairly easily, or avoided entirely with good technique (or certain sharpening fail-safes), but it's a consideration.

Jan 27, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Cooking Meat - should I get a Slow Cooker vs Pressure Cooker vs Roasting Pan?

You don't even specifically need a roasting pan. With a cheap sheet pan, some aluminum foil and a working oven, you can manage a wide array of cooking techniques and results - more often than not, tastier and with more developed flavor and texture than you can achieve in a slow cooker. A roasting pan, specifically, is most useful when you want to cook things (like vegetables) in the juices of the roasting meat.

A slow cooker is perhaps the easiest of the three to use. Some people feel safer leaving one on while they're away at work than they do leaving on a low-temp oven. It's also portable.

A pressure cooker is the fastest of the three. There are a number of specific tricks that you can use a pressure cooker for - fast stocks, risotto shortcuts, caramelized carrot or squash soups, mashed potatoes from scratch in minutes, etc. I have and use a pressure cooker. It's one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. But it's not a replacement for oven roasting or braising, IMO.

Jan 27, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

shun knives

What are you using currently, ChefBart? What about the Shun do you like better?

There's nothing objectively wrong with Shun knives. Good looks, decent steel, decent grind. Their profile isn't to my preference, but that doesn't mean it's bad for you. FWIW, Shun kicked Global's butt on a poll on this site (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/769337), and Global chef knives are in many ways more similar to the gyutos sold at Korin.

Let's bring back Jim Leff as a Senior Consultant for Chowhound

"What people don't want to realize is there has been a complete paradigm shift here"
______
I think plenty of people do realize it. I, for one, just don't like the shift. And I've yet to see a compelling reason why I should.

Let's bring back Jim Leff as a Senior Consultant for Chowhound

I suspect the point was merely that there's nothing inherently wrong with returning to former strategies, philosophies, or associates if that is what helps a company succeed.

I highly doubt that what CH needs is Leff, specifically. And at any rate I figure that neither Leff nor the current CH management is likely to be interested in renewing a partnership.

On the other hand, I do think re-adopting some of the former philosophies of the site would be a good thing. Going back just a few years (not even back to pre-merger times), there was a whole lot of talk about the 'signal-to-noise' ratio around here. It was one of Leff's favorite phrases, IIRC. Less fluff, more info. Don't get me wrong - efforts to maintain a high signal to noise ratio were not always well-implemented, and arbitrary decisions were sometimes justified on these grounds. But it was still, in essence, a GOOD philosophy for keeping CH useful, interesting, and not insipid or redundant in a sea of food blogs and social media.

It seems to me that the recent management decisions have signaled a shift to a philosophy of "yes, please, more noise," believing that noise=traffic=$. If they're wrong, they're slowly running the site into the ground by encouraging casual usage and discouraging any real investment from their users until there will be nothing worth coming here for, even for the casuals. If they're right, they're making money, but also making the site incrementally lamer (which is nice for the owners, but I don't see why I should support it).

increase in sticklers on the Home Cooking Board?

A few points:

- Having posters who care enough about food to challenge each other about the best way to prepare it is a GOOD thing for CH, even if this can manifest in obnoxious ways. The alternative is RachelRayLand.com where everything is Yummo, and spreading new information is far less important than maintaining the warm & fuzzy vibe.

- To some extent, the Purity Pedants have historically been held in check by the Non-Traditional Technique Pedants, who argue just as forcefully for the precedent, quality, and/or validity of deviant cooking techniques. These posters are not necessarily any less obnoxious than the Purity Pedants.

- Though I have some sympathy for the spectrum of Chowhound's pedants and sticklers (perhaps in self-defence?), I must admit, as always, that some people are just dicks. Having a distinct perspective towards food that runs contrary to that of another poster doesn't justify being a smarmy little weaselturd about it.

Chow's, Dear CHOW Feature

The smart money's on the author making up the 'question' herself.

Wok that can't use high heat

Traditional woks are usually made of carbon steel, with no finish. They have a very high heat tolerance. Usually, the consumer makes them non-stick by getting the pan very hot and swishing a little oil around the pan to polymerize (burn/harden) on the surface and leave a coating that is non-stick and tolerant of high heat.

Your pan appears to be made non-stick by a coating of teflon added by the manufacturer (I could be wrong - does the inside of your pan feel like bare uncoated metal, or more plastic-y?). Teflon burns off at relatively low temperatures and isn't suited for the heat traditionally used on a wok.

You can still cook with your wok, but you should follow the manufacturer's instruction, not only because high heat is bad for the pan but because the gasses produced by vaporizing teflon are arguably bad for you.

Jan 08, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Why can't we eat rare chicken?

Do you think your supplier was doing anything special with the chicken?

My guess is that they weren't especially, and that the request to not use raw preps in the summer was because they could not guaranty optimal refrigeration during the butchering process in those months.

Likewise, would you feel confident in the safety of the same preparation in the US? Perhaps if you were personally removing the tenders from the bird?

At any rate, thank you for providing some real world perspective in this thread - a lot of the talk here has made serving rare chicken sound purely theoretical and akin to preparing Martian tartare, rather than a real practice that is regularly managed with some degree of safety in at least one part of the world.

Most Essential Tools for Home Cooks

You don't think the otoshibuta is essential? Last week, my wife lent it out without my knowledge, and my kitchen has been unusable since. You could hardly imagine the chaos when I found out:

Me, rummaging: "Hmmm... Coulda sworn it was here... Honey, have you seen my trusty otoshibuta?"

Wife: "Huh?"

M: "You know, old Toshi. Only my favorite floating droplid."

W: "Ummm..."

M: "Where's my *#@DAMN OTOSHIBUTA?"

W: "I think I lent it out to my sister."

M: "No! Why can't she get her own, like any normal person? Can't she take any responsibility for her own basic necessities? We just got her all those mortars and pestles for Christmas, for #@&#'s sake."

W: "She just got out of school, give her time."

M: "Dinner is totally #@&#ed now. You know that, right? I can't simmer fish in these conditions."

W: "Just use some parchment."

M: "Oh, sure, and I guess I should light up the stove by briskly rubbing two sticks together. Order a pizza, will ya? I gotta go squeegee down the kitchen."

First time posters

I just don't answer questions unless I find them interesting in the first place. And I don't answer them all that well until I get an idea that the OP will be participating in the conversation. There's an art to being cryptic.

Thinking of posts you make on CH as a favor you give to others is bound to leave you disappointed.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Site Talk
1

Homemade dashi seems to mild (wimpy) - is it my tastebuds?

It's pretty easy to make homemade dashi overwhelming if you add too much bonito. You can always walk up the amount you use.

Also, you might have just needed more miso, or salt, or a bit of soy sauce.

Frankly, I've never found that soaking kombu for hours is necessary anyway. Just bring it slowly up to heat, make sure you're using enough of it, and don't boil the bejeezus out of it (most recipes ask that you either not boil kombu at all but bring it just shy of boiling, or else that you turn off the heat as soon as a boil is achieved).

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking
1

Multiple logins, same person - Mods please comment

In fairness, the poster in question did not state specifically that he or she was banned, but merely that they switched screen names after encountering some strife. Frankly, I find this to be somewhat less damaging than allowing posters to have an account attached to their business, and then another account that does not disclose their affiliations.

Why can't we eat rare chicken?

Would you be so kind as to point out which one, again?

It would not be at all surprising for campylobacter to be introduced to deeper tissues via sloppy knife work or rough handling. I believe this is in part why Japanese cooks generally use tenders, which minimizes the likelihood of contamination before the chicken is broken down (presumably in-house). An-intramuscular pocket of that particular bacteria occurring naturally would be quite surprising to me.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in General Topics

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

I was referring specifically to the off-smell/flavors that can be produced when cooking beef sous vide at low temperatures for longer times.
A couple additional links.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9837...
http://forums.egullet.org/topic/14846...

I described the pre-sear as 'careful' for two reasons. If you're pre-searing with the intent of avoiding this specific issue, you should make extra effort to sear the entire surface of the meat (rather than just the top and bottom as you might for appearance and taste reasons). Also, you should practice a little extra care in how you handle the beef as you move it from the sear to the bag so you don't recontaminate the meat in transit.

I don't know exact numbers, but this problem seems to be most common in beef, and most common at bath temperatures in the 130s range and cooked longer than a couple hours. It's certainly perfectly acceptable to presear or dunk in hot water for beef to be cooked at 145, but I couldn't say whether there's still a possibility of experiencing this problem at that temp. Just from my experience, you're unlikely to have this problem at all cooking at 150 or greater, and with proteins other than beef - but if someone told me they experienced the same thing with very low temp pork or something, it wouldn't shock me.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Why can't we eat rare chicken?

See some of my posts above. There is essentially no evidence that pathogens commonly found on chicken can penetrate a muscle on their own. They can, however, be pushed below the surface of a muscle by piercing it. And as you point out, bacteria can also hide in the many crevices of a chicken's external anatomy.

As I pointed out above, exactly how chicken is handled and exactly what cuts are used (such as the tenders alone - which have no real crevices, and are unlikely to be pierced or mangled or otherwise exposed to surface bacteria before you cut up the chicken), probably has a lot of bearing on how safe it may be to eat rare chicken that has only had its exterior briefly cooked (as they appear to do in Japan).

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

Just earlier today.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9273...

Though it's come up on other threads on CH in the past too. It's a relatively well known problem with longer, lower sous vide cooking times for beef. Fortunately, it's also pretty easy to avoid.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

One more consideration: check the internal temperature of the meat immediately after the initial smoking.

I can't think of any real benefit of cooking in a bath that's any cooler than the internal temp of the meat during the pre-smoke. Any contraction in muscle fibers at that temperature have already occurred and won't be offset by a lower bath temperature afterward - you'd only be making the cooking take longer than it has to.

Course, if your pork was relatively thick, it wouldn't necessarily be especially hot inside after only 2 hours of smoke anyway.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

Yep. I only use it occasionally, as other methods of finishing usually create a better result IMHO. It's certainly fun to use though, and does double duty in some dessert preps.

If you get one, avoid the overpriced and under-powered ones you'll see at places like Sur La Table, and just get one from a hardware store. Get a Berzomatic torch or something similar, and preferably one designed not to extinguish if you hold it at a downward angle.

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

That was the off-flavor I mentioned above. It can be avoided by carefully pre-searing or with a quick dunk in a near-boiling water bath before cooking beef at very low temperature for more than a short while.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

The short answer:

Cooking at 160 for ~30 hours would likely be pretty similar. As would cooking for 72 hours at 145. Both would break down so much that the meat is likely to fall apart just from simple handling. There will be little differences, but all three will achieve a high degree of tenderness.

The longer answer:

Exactly what are you trying to accomplish? If you liked the effect of pork cooked for 6 hours at ~205, there may not be much reason to go lower and slower. At any rate, I'll explain the effect of a lower, longer cooking time.

For starters, the lower the temperature, the less the meat contracts during cooking. This contraction normally squeezes the juice out of meat, which is why many meats seem dry when cooked well done traditionally (tougher cuts when braised or otherwise cooked low and slow compensate for this loss of moisture via the transformation of collagen into gelatin and the melting of intramuscular fat). So part of the idea of cooking, say, short ribs to 131 for 72 hours is to give the meat enough time for collagen to break down even at low cooking temperature, but also to minimize contraction of the meat's fibers and allow it to retain a lot of its juices while tenderizing and also creating gelatin. Whereas meat cooked for 6 hours at 180+ will shrink considerably, meat cooked for a very long time at very low temperature will tend to maintain its basic shape and size (until you pull it apart, anyway).

Also, higher temperatures allow you to melt fat, while the lowest temperatures often don't quite achieve this.

Finally, very long cooking times at low temperatures seem to kind of break down not only collagen but some of the basic fibers and proteins in the meat. There can be some tendency for sous vide meats cooked especially low and especially slow to be somewhat mushier than the same meats cooked moderately slow and moderately low. This depends heavily on what you're cooking and how long you're cooking it. Sometimes this effect isn't noticeable at all; sometimes it can make or break a dish.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

Multiple logins, same person - Mods please comment

A little while ago, CH stated that posters affiliated with a business were free to use more than one account - a personal screen name and a business screen name (I was/am not at all a fan of this policy, btw). Seems kind of hypocritical then to ban others from using multiple accounts, as long as those accounts aren't used for trolling purposes.

At any rate, it's pretty hard to effectively ban multiple accounts anyway, unless someone owns up to it. You can track IP addresses, but changing your IP address is easy, and also you might have more than one person with an account living together.

Jan 07, 2015
cowboyardee in Site Talk
1

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

Yeah. Unfortunately, the only real answer to Monica's question is complicated. Fortunately, there's no need to learn everything possible about sous vide all at once. Monica can just follow recipes and read up as she goes along, and eventually it will all make sense.

As for searing... depends on what you're going for. Searing ONLY before a sous vide bath tends to be underwhelming in terms of flavor, textural contrast, and visual appeal. Searing ONLY afterwards can be good. Some people prefer searing both before and afterwards for enhanced browning and flavor, though it's more work for somewhat marginal benefit. For some preparations (notably longer, lower-temp beef preparations) searing beforehand can help avoid the development of off-flavors from some surface bacteria that are slow to die off, though searing again afterwards still usually creates better flavor and better presentation than a pre-sear alone.

Also, if you look at a book like Thomas Keller's 'Under Pressure,' you'll find a number of ideas for presentation that don't employ searing at all, emphasizing the clean, clear flavors of the protein alone, but with consideration as well for visual appeal (few proteins are visually appealing straight out of the bath) - often done with fish and short cooking times, but not strictly limited to seafood either.

Sous vide -- what should I cook first?!

I explained some of this in the older posts above. Basically, long cooking times are for the purpose of tenderization. And said long cooking times are determined by 3 things - the temperature of the bath, the intended effect, and how tough the meat is in the first place.

Higher temperatures break meat down faster than lower temperatures. The lower the temp, the longer you'll need to tenderize. You'll never see a 3 day (or even 24 hour) preparation cooked at 180 f - it would be mush. But cooking at 131 f, some meats need a long time to get fully tender.

The 'intended effect' needs no explanation. And how tough the meat is in the first place uses the same logic you'd use elsewhere in cooking... Would the meat be better braised? Then cook it for a long sous vide bath. Would it need an especially long braise normally? Then lean towards an even longer bath and/or higher bath temp. Would it be better seared or grilled? Then don't go for a long bath at all.

Shorter cooking times (the 30 minutes-3 hour cook times) are determined by whether you're intending to pasteurize whatever you're cooking and by the thickness and heating properties of whatever you're working with. This is why it's useful to understand the kinds of tables you see at Douglas Baldwin's website if you're going to make your own sous vide recipes. They tell you how long it takes a piece of meat to pasteurize (at a given cooking temp and thickness), and with a little deduction they can also tell you how long it takes a piece of meat to heat through without pasteurization.

The easy thing to do is just to follow trusted recipes. There is nothing at all wrong with this. But if you want to make your own recipes, give Baldwin another try. After you understand what he's doing, I can much more easily explain when it does and doesn't apply.