Cooking Science - Yes, Chefs should be passionate about cooking, but a little science won't hurt and would probably make you a better chef!

Chemistry - Maillard Reaction

Sear a steak seal the juices - NONSENSE!

HIGH/MEDIUM/LOW HEAT??? Know Your Pan Temperature

Which oil to use? What is smoking point?

Why use oil?

Frozen Steak Method

Is that blood on the plate?

What is AGING? Can you AGE beef at home? How DRY/WET AGING works?

Moisture the outside

To flip or Not to flip?

Resting the meat

Cutting

Pepper or not?

Put butter? No problem...BUT...!"

Personally I have always liked Heston Blumenthal.  He explains every single details and most importantly the science behinds good cooking. 

He is the proprietor of The Fat Duck, one of four restaurants in Great Britain to have three Michelin stars; it was voted No. 1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2005.

 

He advocates scientific understanding in cooking, for which he has been awarded honorary degrees from Reading, Bristol and London universities and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a pioneer of multisensory cooking, foodpairing and flavour encapsulation. He has described his ideas in books, newspaper columns and a TV series.

 

For Science cook books I turn to these 2 great publications:

   

Modernist Cuisine & America's Test Kitchen

They also have Great YouTube Channels:

Modernist Cuisine & America's Test Kitchen

 

Here are some of the questions our customers ask us everyday about How to Cook a Great Steak or Grass-Fed Steak:

 

  • Chemistry - Maillard Reaction

     

     

     

    • Sear a steak seal the juices - NONSENSE!

    You have heard your friends and a lot of chef say searing a steak seal it's juices. But if you have sealed in the juices, how can you explain this picture?

     

       

       

      • HIGH/MEDIUM/LOW HEAT??? Know Your Pan Temperature

        You often hear chef or videos referring to high, medium and low heat, but what temperature are they talking about? Here is a video that explains it! Or use surface thermometer or infrared thermometer

         

         

        • Which oil to use? What is smoking point?

            All oils have a smoking point, each different.  When the oils reached its smoking point, the fat starts to breakdown and will release "free-radicals" that may causes body harm.  Check out what Wikipedia have to say!

             

             

             

             

            • Why use oil?

              We use oil while panfrying a steak because:

              1. With the oil it's better able to reach crevices/folders of the steak

              2. More oil in the heated pan means larger heat reserve when your cooler temperature steak hits the pan and faster recovery. 

              3. It evens out the cooking surface temperature.  Remember: Not all pans constructions are even, so the oil keeps the pan temperature steady too.  

               

               

               

               

              • Frozen Steak Method

                The America's Test Kitchen showed us a frying a frozen piece of steak in the pan, frankly we have never tried it yet. But all the numbers are there, and it would definitely sound interesting because it provides 2 key results: 1. Good Browning of the meat 2. Preserved moisture in the steak!

                 

                 

                 

                • Is that blood on the plate?

                   

                   

                   

                  • What is AGING? Can you AGE beef at home? How DRY/WET AGING works?

                   

                    How to Dry Age Beef?

                    It is well known there are two main factors which affect meat throughout time, flavour and texture. The first factor is reasonably well documented in Harold McGee’s (2004) book ‘Food & Cooking’ (2004). In this book, he states that the action of enzymes on the protein changes character- istics, flavour and texture. Once the animal is slaughtered and the control systems in its cells stop functioning, the enzymes begin attacking other cell molecules indiscrimi- nately, turning large flavourless molecules into smaller, flavourful fragments. They break proteins into savoury amino acids and fats and fat like membrane molecules into aromatic fatty acids. All of these breakdown products contribute to the intensely meaty, nutty flavour of aged meat. During cooking, the same products also react with each other to form new molecules that enrich the aroma further.

                    The second factor affecting meat over time is that the muscle enzymes also diminish toughness. The major candidate to explain tenderisation post-rigour is the enzyme called calpain (Hopkins and Thompson, 2002). This enzyme mainly weakens the supporting proteins that hold the contracting filaments in place. Equally it appears that other enzymes have a role in tenderisation.

                    In conclusion, it is well known that enzyme activity in meat goes on for about 14 or so days. However, what is happening after that? That is the peculiarity and where does the improvement in flavour come from? This is a little less impressively documented. Traditionally, dry aging would take place for about 28–35 days. At this point the view is that the meat has reached its potential, the balance between tenderness, taste and juiciness is at an optimum. However, there is no information about the quality of the meat after this traditional period of aging time. It is at this point that we did indeed start our beef ageing programme at Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne some 6 years ago.

                    Firstly, temperature control is critical to slow and almost stop the rotting process. Beef is received right after

                    slaughter and it must be held at a core temperature of around zero degrees (this is done by our cool room running between 0.5 and 1 1C). Secondly, airflow is critical. Increasing the airflow around the aging room is needed to make sure that the fresh beef dries as quickly as possible on the surface to stop bacteria and potential mould growth. To achieve this, we have a number of ceiling mounted fans to push air in different directions around the room (Fig. 2). Thirdly, the use of UV lights is crucial to kill any air borne bacteria (Fig. 3). Lastly, the humidity is important and it must be between 80% and 85%. At high levels of humidity mould growth is an issue. If the humidity is too low the beef will dry out too quickly and therefore cause the steak to have less juiciness than is needed (Fig. 4).

                    In conclusion, this culinary process shows a thoroughly sensory study on taste and mouth feel to really optimise dry aging beef process beyond the traditional aging period. We feel confident that for us, all of this work produces an excellent quality steak.

                    References

                    Hopkins, D.L., Thompson, J.M., 2002. Factors contributing to proteo- lysis and disruption of myofibrillar proteins and the impact on tenderisation in beef and sheep meat. Australian Journal of Agricul- tural Research 53 (2), 149–166.

                    McGee, H., 2004. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

                     

                     

                    What is Wet Aging?

                    We use CryoVac DarFresh Packaging, this is a more expensive but there are 2 major benefits. 

                    1. Prevent freezer burns

                    2. You can Wet Age in your own refrigerator for up to 14 days!



                     

                     

                     

                    • Moisture the outside

                    Moisture cannot be present on the surface, because water lowers the highest temperature that is possible. A Maillard Reaction starts at about 50 C (122 F), but goes through 3 stages, with the final browning stage only kicking in at 154°C (309 F.) Meat in boiling water won't get hotter than the boiling point of water, 100 C / 212 F, which is why boiled meat doesn't brown. Oil will get hotter though than 154°C (309F), which is why meat fried in oil is able to brown!

                     

                    • To flip or Not to flip?

                    Ok, let's settle this once and for all. Please watch the thermal imaging camera video clip.

                     

                     

                     

                    • Resting the meat

                    How much juice/moisture is lost if you don't rest it properly

                     

                     

                    • Cutting

                     

                     

                     

                     

                    • Seasoning (Pepper or not?)

                    Almost everybody season steak before cooking, but according to wikipedia, the melting point of piperine - the compound responsible for the pungency of black pepper - is 130 degrees celsius, so it's definitely not a given that anything you'll be cooking will heat all of the piperine above 130 degrees celsius - at which point you'd begin to get significantly faster decomposition (and lose the peppery flavor).

                    Now, the maillard reaction doesn't occur until around 155 celsius, so for cooking steak it's pretty much a given that the outside of the steak (including all of the pepper on the surface) will get hot enough to melt and begin to decompose, so it's certainly possible that you'd lose much of the pepper flavor from the actual peppercorns.

                     

                     

                    • Put butter? No problem...BUT...!

                    Butter taste great on steaks, but at what point do you add in the pan? Preciously at what temperature? 

                    Butter is used for sauteing & frying, although its milk solids brown and burn above 150 °C (250 °F)—a rather low temperature for most applications. The smoke point of butterfat is around 200 °C (400 °F), so clarified butter or ghee is better suited to frying.  If you want to add more butter flavour to your steak, add it so it won't go burnt! 

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter