During the past couple of weeks I’ve changed the way I cook with mince, fry steak and poach eggs. That’s not a bad thing, especially when you’re adopting tips from Heston Blumenthal, the man who has practised and tested things over and over so I don’t have to. As I mentioned last week I’m loving his series “How To Cook Like Heston” where each episode deals with one ingredient. So far I’ve seen beef, eggs, chocolate and chicken. I have a whole, raw chook in the fridge actually ready to receive the Heston treatment any day now.
If someone had of asked me a few weeks back if I was looking for a new way to poach eggs or fry a steak or make hamburgers I might have said “no”. I definitely had my ways of cooking all of those things, so, as they say, if it aint broke, why fix it?
Heston Blumenthal’s top tips basically added to the knowledge I had and improved the flavour and even appearance of the food I was cooking.
There are no complicated recipes here today, I’m just going to share what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks that has made us (as a family) go “Wow, we want more of that”.
Turkey mince. It used to be my least favourite mince. It happens to be very high in protein and low in fat but in my book, if there’s not much flavour then sorry it can’t be the main attraction in anything I’m plating up.
Heston imparted some mince-meat tips recently that were part of an ‘ultimate hamburger’ recipe. It involved grinding your own meat a certain way, but if you don’t have a meat mincer, you can still follow his “binding trick” and turn boring mince into something special with no fuss or expense at all. Salt is the magic ingredient. I should say salt and nothing else. No breadcrumbs, eggs, herbs or spices needed. A measured portion of salt will tenderise meat and intensify the meaty flavour. Leave the pepper until you’re plating up otherwise it’ll burn in the pan.
TASTY & JUICY MINCED BURGERS OR MEATBALLS
-For every 500 grams of minced meat, add a flat half-teaspoon of table salt, then in a bowl mix it through well with your hands
-Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for four hours
-After four hours, turn the mince into either burgers or meatballs and let them sit on a plate for an hour
-Heat oil in a frying pan until smoking hot (or get a bbq really hot). With burgers, flip them every 15-20 seconds until just cooked through. At your last ‘flip’ add a slice of cheese to each burger and let it melt a little before putting burgers on bread buns and adding your favourite burger toppings. Heston adds a combo of mustard, mayonnaise and tomato sauce (ketchup) + onion, dill pickles, tomato and lettuce. He also uses sweeter brioche-style bread rolls.
-For my meatballs, move them around a very hot fry pan or hot plate every 15-20 seconds until they have some colour. I finish off the cooking process by adding 2 to 3 cups of your favourite pasta sauce to the pan. It might not sound very ‘gourmet-foodie’ of me but I’ve been liking Leggo’s Hidden Veg pasta sauce, Bolognese with spinach and carrots. Fantastic when you don’t have any time or you want to eat A.S.A.P. Anyway, bring the pasta sauce to bubbling point, add half a cup of reserved water from your cooked pasta and simmer the meatballs for about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat and let the meatballs rest another 5 minutes. Add ’just-aldente’ pasta to the pan, stir and grind over some pepper, serve in bowls and top with parmesan cheese.
And finally, here are:
FIVE OF HESTON’S TOP TIPS FOR MAKING BETTER STEAKS AND BURGERS
1. Before cooking steak, take it out of the packet and leave it on a shelf in the fridge (with a tray or plate underneath it) for two days. Yes, two days. Air circulating around the steak will start to dry it out, concentrating the flavour and tenderising the meat. Then let your steak rest outside the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking, to get it to room temperature.
2. Fry your steak in oil in a smoking hot pan (don’t be afraid you’ll burn your kitchen down – you won’t, says Heston). The intense heat from the pan will cause the Maillard reaction, where proteins and sugars react to create a delicious, meaty brown crust.
3. Don’t let your steak get lazy in the pan. Turn it over every 15-20 seconds, so the outside stays hot enough for a crust to form, without the inside overcooking.
4. Not so fast! Once it’s cooked, let your steak rest for at least five minutes. This will allow the fibres to cool down and stop contracting, which holds in the moisture and leaves your steak juicy and tender.
5. Before making beef burgers, sprinkle your beef with salt and leave it for at least three to four hours, which will bind, tenderise and flavour the meat without any need for egg or breadcrumbs.