T Nation

Food Porn Thread


#883

I love rice with salmon.


#884

Absolutely. I built it to facilitate braising and pot-roasting in a cast-iron Dutch oven, as well as direct-coal cooking. I have a gas grill (for convenience), but I had no way of safely using coals in my cooking. The advantage of using hot coals placed on and around the cooking vessel is huge compared to cooking the same thing in an oven… The coals heat up the walls and lid of the Dutch oven and create infrared radiation, which browns and caramelizes the food while it is cooking (Sort of like broiling it), while the tight fitting lid keeps the interior of the vessel at or near 100% humidity. As a result, I am able to use much less liquid for the braise, since very little is lost to evaporation, which translates to a much more concentrated jus at the finish. Another added benefit is the creation of 2nd generation Maillard molecules. When you brown food, you are creating Maillard molecules (the tasty, very volatile, smells and flavors that you associate with “complex” food). These molecules are great on their own, but when they are sealed in a vessel and interact together at high temp, they combine and create even more complex molecules, which your tastebuds interpret as more interesting/exciting. (In chemistry terms I am running a reflux reaction, as opposed to a linear/single-run reaction; this means that the reaction keeps going with little loss to the outside environment.)

Modern recipes that are trying to recreate authentic pot-roasted dishes usually begin by searing the meat, in an attempt to mimic the intense infrared of a coal-heated pot. This step is unnecessary when making it in the traditional style. The cooked photo is taken 3 hours after putting the raw version in the coals. Nothing was added; no stirring; just raw meat in, amazingly crusted/seared/tender meat out. The modern workarounds leave much to be desired, as the Maillard molecules are readily soluble in water, meaning they quickly leave the meat and flavor the cooking liquid. This cooking liquid is usually boiled at the finish in an effort to concentrate the flavors. The volatile molecules wind up making the kitchen smell wonderful, but if it’s in the air, it’s not making it to the plate. And a more diluted cooking liquid means that first-gen Maillard molecules are less likely to interact and combine, and more likely to volatise with evaporating cooking liquid.

This was done as a proof-of-concept, and it worked better than I could have possibly imagined. My family, who is rather picky, all had thirds and agreed that it was the best roast they had ever had. I will be experimenting further. My other goal, besides mastering hearth-cooking in general, is to get comfortable cooking in our fireplace. These are, unfortunately, lost arts, and I intend to do my part to preserve them. I believe that there is something in the modern tech that can be added to these techniques (i.e. Combining sous vide or pressure cooking with coals). I’m also very interested in pit cooking… Now that I have a safe place to build fire, I will be digging and burying. I will, of course, share the results.


#885

Thanks for the explanation! I have a charcoal grill and might give this a shot.


#886

That would be interesting. We had pig cooked this way in Hawaii and it was incredible.


#887

@FatKidfromFL That’s brilliant. How do you manage temperature control doing something like dutch oven roasting on an open hearth?


#888

Very cool!

I buried a pot bellied (webber type) grill half way into the ground once, and vented it from the bottom- like a basic forge just using oak and hickory fire wood. It got incredibly hot and would throw a massive amount of heat, but when I tried cooking a couple of steaks I just pretty much incinerated them.

Looks like you have a much better way of getting good heat control.


#889

Temperature control is achieved by varying the number of coals and the distance. The beauty of the high humidity environment is that there is a huge margin of error. The traditional method involves burying the vessel in the coals that are left over from baking. This means that there is a temperature gradient, with the most intense heat at the start of the process, and the heat naturally trailing off as the coals burn out. Modern recipes oftentimes employ a workaround in an attempt to mimic this phenomena, by beginning the roast at a high temp (15mins @450), then lowering for the remainder of the cook time (300 for 2 hrs).


#890



#891

I have lunch at my mum’s place on Sundays, and she likes to cook something slightly different for me than I eat on weekdays, to kinda make it special.

I have rice and salmon in my meal plan but I usually make tomato sauce to go with it. Today she actually cooked the salmon with broccoli and the thing really tastes good.

Would totally recommend.