Sunday, February 20, 2011

Central Market Cooking Tips

Last night my favorite sous chef and I had date night at Central Market for their Texas Tastes Couples Night Out class. It wasn't until we were exiting the highway did it hit me - I left my camera, in its new case, sitting on the kitchen island when I ran out the door. I took a few pictures of the finished products with my phone but those hardly do it justice.

Aside from cooking some hands down amazing food, we also learned 3 helpful tips that I thought I would share with you.

1) When it comes to grilling, it is our instinct to want to yank the meat off the grill to flip so it won't stick. The truth is, it is going to stick no matter what. Meat is a protein which has complex sugars and often marinades, so they will always stick until they are ready to be flipped. You will know they are ready when you don't have to tug them at all. It is those sugars that help caramelize the surfaces, creating that beautiful "grill" look. So lesson: Don't flip your meat until it is ready, you will know when it is ready when you go to flip it and it comes right up.

2) Testing to see if meat is done: how many of us cut into meat to see if it's finished, has the right pinkness or none at all? Well don't do that. The analogy they used was that you would never drive a 3 hour road trip and once you get there open the hood of your car, would you? No. Cutting into your meat leaks out all of the juices you would want to stay in, then if you put it back in, you dry it all up. To test if your meat is done, take your palm and relax it, the testing surface will be the fleshy area of your palm where you thumb is....
  • For rare, touch your thumb to your pointer finger (fleshy feeling)
  • For medium, touch thumb and middle finger (gets firmer)
  • for medium-well touch middle finger and thumb (much more firm)
  • and if you like it well done, it will feel like your pinky and thumb touching (very firm)
This "rule of thumb" (ha, get it!) works for all meat!

3) Last but not least, while we did already know to only grill with canola oil, this helpful tip was to keep a paper towel soaked in canola in a bowl, it is easy to apply to wipe down the grilling surface.

I hope these little tips come in handy for you! Here are the pictures from our Texas Tastes dinner. We have a packet with all of the recipes and fully intend to make them again so stay tuned for the step by step!

Grilled Quail Salad with mixed greens, a creamy spiced buttermilk dressing, dried cherries and creole toasted walnuts

Chipotle cheddar grits, green bean and squash medley with roasted bell peppers, Texas surf and turf (beef tenderloin filet topped with tomatillo, jalepeno and pepper jack cheese with creole seasoned grilled shrimp and a burgundy demi glace)

Buttermilk ice cream and apple crisp

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