Wednesday, February 15, 2012

leave that meat alone! [what-mom-taught-me wednesday]

rare is the occasion when i cook something without thinking of my mother in one way or another.

with every movement through the kitchen, every stir of the spoon, i hear her voice, telling me what she is doing and why, as a much younger me watches or helps her cook for her husband, eight children, and whatever friends and family might be in the house at that moment.

so.. each week i will try to highlight a lesson whose source i otherwise might have forget... things i am grateful my mother taught me about cooking.

what-mom-taught-me wednesday #1: leave that meat alone!

when meat is cooking on the stove, let it sear against the pan before you try to move it.

don't poke it. don't lift it. don't move it around the pan. don't smush it flat with your spatula and squeeeeeeeze all the flavorful juices out of it.

if you need to know if it's ready, gently slide your spatula under a corner. if it is cooked, the proteins will have seared and nicely browned, releasing the chemical bonds (seriously) between the meat and the pan, and the meat should slide easily.

once you get used to not touching your meat, moving it around, and peaking constantly to see if it is "done" your other senses will compensate, so you don't have to check as often.
the smells (the caramelizing meat), the sounds (you'll hear the pan getting hot again as the bottom of the meat becomes fully cooked), even the feel (press down gently on the top of the meat as it cooks, it's springiness will change as it cooks...) will tell you when the meat is ready.

let it be... and you shall be rewarded with perfectly seared meat.

by the way- this goes for just about anything you cook on he stove with protein in it.. steak, chicken, fish, eggs, even french toast and pancakes!

good luck, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!


  1. Irene - whatup. It's your friend Matt Kosko! I figured this is as good of a post as any to comment on, since I get frustrated when people squeeze all the delicious juices out of food because they think they should squish it with a spatula.
    Anyway, I didn't have any up to date contact info on you, but I'll bet if you have any of mine, it'll still work-- hit me up or comment here I guess (I'm not a facebook user-- more on that later).

  2. Wow Matt, what a surprise, nice to hear from you! Send me an email at bakermakerblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

    Talk soon!


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