cowboyardee's Profile

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Lefty needs a knife!

Point of interest:

Cutco's [relatively] popular serrated knives are technically right handed, with a serration pattern optimized for right handed usage, although I've never met a lefty who bothers to find lefty serrated blades (myself included).

Their non-serrated knives are ambidextrous. But since these lack a decent grind and come with a high price tag, I wouldn't recommend Cutco's non-serrated offerings for leftys or rightys.

Desperate Budweiser add screams "we are cheap beer"

An analogy to help this discussion along:

In the year 2050, during some discussion of the popular beers of the day, perhaps someone will point out that nearly everyone who drinks PBR is 60-70 years old. Someone else will wonder aloud what's wrong with sexagenarians - there are so many other better beers and malt beverages to choose from, to say nothing of the resurgence of mead. And someone else will point out that 65 year olds have varied tastes and preferences, but PBR in particular had a period of tremendous popularity in the early part of the century among certain crowds, and some of those former hipsters wound up keeping their mustaches, flannel, and PBR long after they stopped being ironic.

Dispatching live lobsters?

Here's a classic article on the ethics of lobster by David Foster Wallace, for those who haven't seen it:

If you take his word for it, there is no way to kill a lobster without it suffering. Anyone who's frozen then boiled lobster realizes that it wakes up and begins to struggle very quickly (and anyway, they're pretty inured to near-freezing temperatures, and leaving it in open air in the freezer before boiling may be more traumatic than just plain boiling). Soaking the critter in fresh water supposedly causes big shifts in osmotic pressures and intense pain. Cutting it in half or otherwise dismembering it doesn't kill it immediately due to its not-quite-centralized nervous system.

On the one hand, this is disturbing in that many of us like to imagine (whether or not this is true or whether we make any significant effort to ensure as much) that the animals we eat are killed painlessly - lobsters, apparently, cannot be. You eat lobster, and it suffered. Worse, it likely suffered at your hands directly. But either way, its death was not painless.

There is another way to look at it... that lobster you're eating never had a painless a painless death in store for it. Whether it died in the pot on the way to your plate or untouched by human hands at the bottom of an ocean, its death was assuredly going to suck. And as such, causing it pain as it dies is not really your fault - it's just an unfortunate tic of mother nature.

Anyway, I've got no new suggestions. Keep it in salt water until right before death if possible. Then cut it up and cook it (or else just cook it without cutting). And whatever you do, make something tasty enough that the whole thing is worthwhile.

Feb 22, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

magnetic knife holder. Yay or Nay?

A magnet doesn't ruin a knife's edge unless you scrape the edge along the magnet when placing the knife on or off of it (which can be an easy mistake to make, admittedly).

Feb 20, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Milk's New Ad Campaign

"It's the implicit comment on our society that's most frightening."
Not to mention that the ad assumes its audience has never noticed the ingredients list on a carton of cream.

Feb 18, 2015
cowboyardee in General Topics

Cast iron above maximum temperature

My guess is that Lodge is trying to minimize their liability when people burn themselves on the pan's handle.

Anyone know how to proper knife cuts?

Depends on exactly what your problem is.

You mention that you wind up with irregular cuts because the vegetables taper off (though this doesn't make much sense with onions, which are typically cut differently than potatoes and carrots). In this case, your biggest problem is likely that you're trying to waste too little for the cuts you're attempting. For example, a brunoise of carrot often starts by chopping off and discarding (or at least reserving) the skinny half of the carrot entirely, before then further trimming the carrot to make a regular shape and then starting.

Of course, sloppy technique or a very dull knife could be still causing you problems. But that's hard to diagnose from what you've posted so far.

I will point out one common trap for the self-taught: there are many videos to teach you knife skills, and while these videos can be helpful and give you a good start, they can also tend to foster the notion that the best way to cut everything is by using that distinctive rocking motion and constantly keeping the blade touching the cutting board. Especially when trying to make some of the classic restaurant cuts (brunois, julienne, etc), you'll likely find that other cutting motions can be more comfortable or efficient.

Feb 09, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

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

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

Jan 31, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

was I sold wet scallops?

Yeah, probably.

Jan 31, 2015
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

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 (, 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 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

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

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.

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.

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