Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

‘Valentine’ by Carol Ann Duffy

Posted in Kitchen Wisdom,Vegetables by Paul Gauche on July 11, 2009

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.



Searing (Browning) Meats

Posted in Kitchen Wisdom by Paul Gauche on July 11, 2009

Searing Meat


Searing meat is the process for caramelizing the sugars and browning the proteins present in meat, creating more color and flavor, as well as an appealing crust, on the surface.

 1.  There are a few pre-cooking tips that will help make the most of your sear:

  • Remove the meat from the refrigerator and set it out at room temperature for a short while before cooking it. This lets the meat to relax, allowing the meat’s natural moisture to reabsorb into the muscle, rather than staying trapped between the meat’s fibers.
  • Make sure the pan that will be used for searing is hot, hot, hot!

 2.  Once the meat has been allowed to sit at room temperature for a short while, season it with salt (and pepper, if desired). The seasoning will stick to the moist surface of the meat and as it cooks it will form a flavorful seared crust. The salt will also permeate the surface of the meat, flavoring the meat’s interior.

3.  If you have chosen to marinate the meat in a salty mixture, like soy sauce or a salty brine, there is no need to add extra salt and moisture. If you chose to marinate the meat in a sweet or sugary solution, be careful when searing because the added sugars could burn quickly, ruining the taste of your meat.

4.  Depending on the type of meat and amount of fat that has been trimmed off of the meat, it may not be necessary to add fat to the pan. The pork we are using does not need added fat because there is enough fat on the meat to sear it properly. However, if you decide that your meat will not render enough oil to sear the meat properly, add vegetable or peanut oil to the heating pan and watch for the oil to ripple. When the oil ripples, the pan is hot enough to add the meat. If you are not using added oil, be sure to heat the pan to a very high heat before adding the meat.

5.  If the pan is not hot enough when the meat is added, the meat will stick and tear when turned. When the pan is hot enough the sugar on the meat’s surface will immediately crystallize, making it a simple task to flip the meat over. Meat seared at a correct temperature will leave flavor crystals (known as fond ) on the bottom of the pan, which can later be removed (for later use) from the pan by using a technique known as deglazing . When the pan is very hot, add the meat to the pan by placing the fattiest side down.

6.  Watch for coloration to take place, it will happen quickly. When one side of the meat is seared, turn it to allow a fresh side of meat the opportunity to brown. Searing calls for constant attention because it takes place so quickly. If attention is averted, it is easy to burn the meat.

7.  On occasion, the meat will attempt to return to the position it was originally placed in rather than stay turned to the side that needs searing. To avert this problem, arrange the meat with the desired-side down, and lean it against the edge of the pan. The pan will, in essence, act as a support or prop.

8.  If you subscribe to the “more seared the better” mode of thinking, treat yourself by searing the meat’s tips by balancing it against the edge of the pan. Be careful when doing this as the pan will be screaming hot and contain very hot oil. If the meat were to fall over, it could send a splatter of hot grease around the kitchen.

9.  Keep in mind that the inner core of the seared meat is most likely raw and will need to be cooked further.