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  • Re: It's time to do something - But what? I need to loose weight

    robnybbq said:
    I have not been that hungry the past few days (very low carb for 11 days). But trying to eat every 3 hours. Just don't want to eat what I am making. I just Need to learn how to cook.
    Here are a few cooking notions.

    Bitter tastes in food can be decreased w. a small amounts of salt. This allows whatever sweetness there is to come out.

    Acids are said to "brighten" flavors. Just a dash of lemon or lime juice, a splash of balsamic vinegar will really make flavors jump out.

    There has been lots of discussion about the possible negative side effects of MSG. One of those is that it passes directly from the tongue to the brain, and then may trigger some sort of fat aquisition process. But everyone concedes that natural glutamates are the essential component of savory flavor. There are lots of good sources for those. Blue cheeses, parmasan, mushrooms, walnuts, and even celery have higher levels. Mix small quantities of those into other items for an overall improvement in flavor.

    Soy sauce (real good stuff like Lee Kim Kee brand), real Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire sauce have a permanent place on our kitchen table.

    Fresh herbs and freshly ground spices are essential for good flavor.

    Here is something that may strike you as odd, but crushed pork cracklins are a pretty good condiment. Very tasty from the intense maillard reaction chemicals in it, it is also rather high in protein and oleic acid, a "good" fat. Dusty some of that over anything for an bacon effect.

    Likewise, bread crumbs from bread crusts. Not only do the crumbs add a bit of crunch, but the reason the crust browns is also due to maillard reaction.

    And a trick. Ground chicken and turkey can make an OK burger. Bison, tho' expensive is far better. Extremely low in fat, and exceptionally high in protein. The problem is all those tend to cook up dry. Before forming the patties, add a small amount of plain, unflavored gelatin to some water or stock. Add that to the meat mixture, along w. some other flavor items. Make the patties, and let chill for awhile if possible. The gelatin will keep the cooked meat feeling succulent, and provide proteins that are not as easy to find in lean meats.

    Any rate, there are a ton of things that will make foods taste much better without adding too much in the way of calories. Do not avoid all fats, as the omega fats are essential. Those will help carry many of the flavors.

  • Re: Letting charcoal stabilize before adding food?

    And I won't continue anything, but unconverted wood will continue to produce VOCs. Just not very much. Wood decomposition from lower heat creates, among other compounds, acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde auto ignites well below the burning temperature of carbon, so the acetaldehyde will most likely burn off if the lump has reached full heat, but not so much the formaldehyde or toluene, which ignite around the same temperature as carbon. See here: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fuels-ignition-temperatures-d_171.html. In the case of unconverted wood, the VOCs are produced by further exposure to heat in the burning lump. The amount of residual VOC in unburnt lump is partially due to the fabrication process. It used to be common to just release them when the retort was opened, but I've read that in Missouri, some production facilities are burning methane to destroy the VOCs escaping from freshly made lump. If either process is less than perfect, the remaining charcoal, which is absorptive, will hold some VOCs. I don't know if all the VOCs will dissipate just from exposure to air flow. Nominally, VOCs do off gas at room temperature, but there is lots of variability depending on the compound.
  • Re: My first hog head today

    My recollection is that mine was a little bigger, maybe 10#. Started a little after noon, and finished just before 5. I had the vent settings for around 250, but the dome therm never was above 210. I knew it was cooking well because the rendered fat in the drip pan was simmering. The pig had been "shot" between the eyes, and I waited till there were bubbles and steam coming from the hole.
  • Re: Egg is stuck--I messed up

    Get a putty knife, and work it around the gasket seam. Most likely, you will find places where the gasket is not melted. Work the blade edge in, and begin to open the seam as far as possible. See if the dome lifts. If not, get a sharper knife, and cut thru the stuff that has fused.

    I've toasted my gaskets any number of times. Generally there is a portion completely burnt away, a smaller portion fused, and the rest, just sort of clingy. I have on occasion opened the bottom vent, put my toe in, and just yanked upwards on the handle.  One time, the dome came right open, with 90% of the charred  top gasket hanging loose. On another occasion, I had to use my weed burner to melt enough away from the outside so that i could get the knife in.


  • Semi-OT: First sous vide

    Reading the thread on the charred NY strips, and the comments on hot tubbing, I thought I'd mention the results of my first sous vide.

    I started on the sous vide track with hot tubbing steaks. Along the way I tried manual control of my slow cooker and zip-locs. Also tried oil poaching, which worked quite well indeed. (Oil poached rabbit seared on the Egg is the best.) So for my Christmas gift-to-self, I got the least expensive controller. As it happened, Zip-Loc has started selling a vacuum bag for freezer storage and sous-vide.

    Everything I've read suggests beef short ribs are the best done sous vide.

    I just salted mine, and did them 60 hours at 134F (approx. temp, the controller varied +- 2F.) Unfortunately, my wife came down with the flu the day they finished, so I didn't bother to fire up an Egg to finish, but just went with a pan sauteé, and then some fresh pepper.

    It was almost apples to oranges compared to other short ribs. While less fat rendered than I would have liked, the collagen did become extremely soft, and was somewhat crisped by the pan sear. The meat, tho a bit past medium, was very tender and very succulent. Not as falling apart as I expected, but easily cut. The long period at low temperature caused the flavor to become very pronounced, almost pungent. I'd place them as a close second best to any short ribs I've done.

    It was a little freaky, looking at the meat 48 hours in, and seeing it still pink. Also, the lack of any odor while cooking was peculiar.

    Next time, I will add a bit of marinade, and go for 72 hours at 132, and finish over some real flame. Will also try another of my favorite tough-to-do cuts, heart.
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