The one question I always get asked is: How long do I need to cook it? While most chefs struggle with this question, it is one that you have to answer for supper clubs.
The answer to the how long to cook question is that it depends. There are all kinds of variables that come into play:
- How hot is the grill, oven or pan?
- How thick is the meat or whatever you are cooking
- Was the item being cooked brought to room temperature before cooking?
- Was the oven or grill repeatedly opened?
- How many times was something turned on the grill or pan?
Even though time and temperature are not the best determinant of whether something is cooked correctly they are the easiest to follow and the most asked for. In my book: “Impromptu Friday Nights – A Guide to Supper Clubs” time and temperature ranges are provided as an indicator. I believe in the three keys outlined in my blog on how to cook the perfect steak.
- Instant and external read Thermometers
- Touch (How firm is the meat, the firmer the more well done)
- Cut a little slice
With all of the above said, there had been a long-standing traditions in the Kenny family. The Prime Rib of Beef was always overcooked and whoever said grace would break out in tears. Today if there are any tears to be shed it isn’t because the beef is over done. The use of an external read thermometer and a little experience has ensured that the beef will be the perfect medium rare every time.
I am a fan of the Paula Dean Roast NEVER OPEN OVEN DOOR method.
It combines time temperature and an external read thermometer. The external read thermometer takes the guess-work out of the process. It also reduces the anxiety that not being able to open the oven door can create.
Experience also comes into play. What a lot of recipes don’t tell you is that meat will continue to cook after it is taken out of the oven. The best example is beef tenderloin. Many recipes call for it to be cooked to 130 degrees for medium rare. If you take it out of the oven at 130 degrees it will continue to cook to 145 degrees and a miserable well done.
Experience comes from practice. Whenever I write a supper club menu I test it first. We once had a supper club menu that called for a beef tenderloin to be cooked to 135 degrees for medium rare. The person who wrote the menu got the recipe from a well known source. If you take a tenderloin out of the oven at 135 you will get well done shoe leather. I was left with a dilemma. Say nothing and let some really good expensive beef be turned to shoe leather or say something and insult the person that wrote the menu. I tried to be diplomatic. The good news is that the tenderloins were cooked perfectly. The bad news is the person who I corrected thinks I am a jerk. She is probably right.
Cooking to temperature is a definite supper club challenge. A little practice and using thermometers really helps.
If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs due out from Morgan James Publishing on January 30, 2018.If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs due out from Morgan James Publishing on January 30, 2018.