Monday, September 4, 2017

More on Frank's Cooking Tip

Yesterday, I wrote about a cooking tip I'd gotten from Frank, renowned chef/owner of Francesco's, the last great Italian-American restaurant .

Here's some interesting response from friend-of-the-slog Paul Trapani:
The latest rage in ovens is what's called a "combi" oven - an oven that also produces steam. You can set a humidity level. The thinking is that air makes a terrible conductor of heat, whereas steam is awesome (consider: you can put your hand in a hot oven, but not in a hot steamer). The "modernist" cooking people are all over this, and it looks like Frank hacked into it on his own.

This is the combi equivalent for stovetop cooking. Increasing conduction via water droplets. And the advantage here is that when you're working in a pan, you're simultaneously searing, which is good on its own, but it also ensures the meat doesn't over-moisturize. So it's kind of like deglazing but with the added benefits of steam (it will also unstick the meat if your pan wasn't heated to the exact right temperature to begin with).

A genius move by Frank, and I have not seen it anywhere before!
I've randomly bumped into another, similar, move over the years, come to think of it. As a restaurant critic, I've had many terrifying experiences of beholding a fridge stuffed with several dozen takeout packages (investigation leftovers; if I'd eaten every bite I ordered, they'd need to lift me out of bed with a crane). I tried every possible reheating technique, and finally settled on the following (which actually makes food better than fresh:

Heat a quality non-stick pan to medium-high. Add a tablespoon or two of water. Throw in leftovers (putting meats and other items requiring thorough heat at bottom). Cover, wait for sizzling sounds, then reduce heat to low. Don't touch it! You'll know it's ready when the kitchen is full of aroma.

Again, that bit of humidity appears to be a big trick.

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