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I’ve picked up a couple of recipes that I just adore, and which have helped inform and transform my whole approach to cooking. I want it to be simple, fast, not too messy, and to taste magnificent. I don’t want to buy exotic gear and I don’t want to add taste. I want to taste the thing I’m cooking.
Lan Lam on steak:
She covers various methods, including sous vide and the famous “hot as hell, stand back!” and then lays it on you — the Cold Sear. I really like her demonstrations of pros and cons for each method — shun the grey ring!
Frank Proto on chicken breast:
I had been doing a gallon bag of chicken breasts and spicy marinade to get flavor into the chicken, then Instapot for tender, moist, fluffy chicken breasts. Fine, but lots of prep and the flavor is all added. I’m developing an appreciation for the just plain taste of things, but I don’t want it to be bland. Enter the Maillard reaction, as mentioned above by Lan Lam. Frank Proto also covers it here for the chicken, and relying on this exclusively has worked wonders for my chicken game. I deviate from this recipe by adding plain water rather than broth (why do I have to add chicken to my chicken to make it taste like chicken?), and the squirt of lemon is optional. Chicken + salt, pepper, and some oil to get the heat up into the chicken from the pan; then drippings from that chicken + water and butter. Remember to rack the chicken while it’s resting and then pour those drippings into your in-progress sauce.
The Jesse Kelly Burger:
This is the Super Bowl star here. Yes, yes, yes, all he says and let me stress a couple of points: Chipotle Tabasco, not something else, yes a half-bottle per pound, yes the heat mostly cooks off and the FLAVOR OMZ IT’S COMPLETE. American cheese, thin patties, pan cook — everything he says. Although I don’t even use the allspice or whatever. Don’t need it. Obviously, I’m deviating from “just taste what’s cooking” for this, but man is it ever worth it.
Get a chub of cheap 73/27 if you can, he’s absolutely right. I messed up my first 73/27 and thought it was too fat. Nope, I had done it wrong, and by the time I came back to 73/27, I had my game right. What I had done wrong was over-kneading the ground beef. If you work it too long, it becomes unmanageable. You need this beef COLD and you need to be in and out of it as quickly as possible. Get the Chipotle and the garlic powder worked into it and then smash out some barbarian patties. Also, only do a pound (4-6 patties) at a time. It takes too long to do larger batches, and you wind up fighting the patties, which then crumble in the pan.
I start by toasting the buns right in the pan (I only want the insides toasted anyway, for structural integrity), and then you gotta keep these burgers flipping. A minute at a time, three or four flips and you’re done. If the burgers are fragile, two minutes per side, so 2m + 2m + 1m to sit with cheese while you arrange buns. Regardless, cook time on high is 4-5 minutes, using that last minute or so as cooldown and melt-the-cheese time if they’re looking done.
Some other tips: thin patties, rough edges, dimple in the middle. Because science.