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Welcome to the Cooking with C.C. Blog. I will be discussing all things food and travel related. Be sure to join me for information from recipes, cookbooks, restaurants and places to visit. I look forward to hearing from you!

Why did the steak get a crust? (Part 2)

So, browning or the crust we are looking for on the steak requires a dry surface and some kind of sugar to react with the protein in the steak.  Steaks tend to be fairly wet on the surface, so the heat from the grill has to drive off the surface moisture before the browning can occur.  From the steak experiment (See previous post), we started with a rub of salt and corn starch.  The salt and corn starch help dry the surface of the steak.  Since the corn starch is made up of long strings of glucose (Sugar) molecules, the corn starch also adds the sugar needed to react with the protein on the surface of the steak.  Corn starch can be used to crisp up a variety of foods as they cook.  The salt in the rub provides flavor for the exterior as well. But how does 30 minutes in the freezer help?  If you've left anything uncovered in a freezer, you know that the air is severely dry and foods that aren't covered lose a lot of moisture.  The low humidity of the freezer also helps dry the surface of the steak.  The steak is not in the…

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Why did the steak get a crust? (Part 1)

If you read my last post, we went to some trouble to get a nice crust on the steak.  Why did we have to use corn starch and the freezer to get that crust?  In some of the recipes in class, we have to caramelize onions.  The challenges with caramelizing onions is a great demonstration of what happens with the browning on the steak.  One of the problems with caramelizing onions is that nothing happens for a very long time and then in the blink of an eye, the onions are burned.  So what's going on here..... Onions are mostly water, so when we are cooking the onions, the temperature can't rise above 212 degrees while the water is driven out of the onions.  Once the water has reached a low level, the temperature begins to take off and increase rapidly possibly burning the onions.  So, browning requires a temperature above 212 degrees and a minimal amount of water.  Onions also have a lot of sugars in them which caramelize as the temperature rises. Referring to "The Science of Good Food," we see that browning requires temperatures above 250 degrees and water content that is not too high or too low.  This nonenzymatic…

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The Great Steak Experiment!

One of my favorite magazines is "Cook's Illustrated."  This months issue has an article about "Bringing Home Argentine Grilled Steak."  What I most enjoy about this magazine is the explanation through everything they tried to get to the final recipe and method......this one sounded just crazy and bizarre enough that I had to try it. The goal is to get a deep brown crust while grilling the steak.  In Argentina, the steaks are cooked around a wood fire for a long time - so, can we get a similar result with my basic Charbroil gas grill.  The problem - get rid of the surface moisture so its dry enough for a crust to form.   What method did Andrew end up using?  A rub of salt and corn starch and a 30 minute trip to the freezer - that's right - 30 minutes in the freezer before it hits the grill. Like I said, when I read this is sounded just crazy and bizarre enough that if they put it in print, it just might work.  After reading this article while I was on the road this week, it was settled.  New York Strip steaks with this method for dinner Saturday…

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Grill Roasting a Leg of Lamb

We were hosting a dinner group from church last night and decided to serve Roast Leg 'O Lamb.  I've grill roasted this before over a low flame.  I've roasted in the oven.  I decided to try a different method of grill roasting last night.  (Lori always loves it when I decide to "experiment" when we have guests over.) Since we would have about 10 people over, I ended up buying two small legs of just over 3 pounds each.  I trimmed to surface fat and then marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary and mint. My grill has three burners, so I turned on the left burner and adjusted to where the temperature in the grill was right at 300 degrees.  I put the legs on the right side over the burners that weren't on.  I had a temperature probe in one of the large sections of the leg.  I wanted to cook it to about 140 degrees. What happened was that all of the drippings during the roasting dropped onto the two off burners.  When the temperature hit 125 degrees, I turned the two burners under the lamb on medium high to get some color and crust on…

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