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A flop of a meal...some days are diamonds...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
some are rocks...

Girlfriend and I tried to cook up a skirt steak in a balsamic rosemary marinade and a simple potato pancake the other night for dinner.

What a flop! I figured, If it's one thing I could cook, its a steak...but I never cooked this cut before. Boy....did I screw that up. The balsamic marinade is very deceiving as far as color, and my instant read thermometer on a thin cut of meat didn't work so hot....so I undercooked the meat....

on her side, the potato pancake process...she left the grated potato out between paper towels to get as much moisture out (she heard this was better for the pancake) and when they were put in the pan, they turned VERY dark..still tasted ok, but the pancake stuck to the pan and just didn't hold well, so she threw it in a baking dish with some leftover cheese we had I threw some veggies on the grill that came out better than the whole meal....what a failure! just figured I'd share with you guys...

post #2 of 9
Can't help much with the other stuff, but if the color change happened while it was sitting on the counter, it's oxydation. You can prevent this by floating a layer of CO2 (mix vinegar and baking soda) or Nitrogen (if you have a cylinder handy) in the bowl.

Onion will also help, although it takes quite a bit to have the same effect.

Terry
post #3 of 9
Bombed out meals aren't much fun. Yeah sounds like the potatoes oxidized, hence the colour. Gotta do them last minute, squeeze the water out through a clean towel, then cook 'em up straight away. Or let them sit in acidulated water (water with lemon juice or vinegar, just a dash of either) till you're ready to use them, then squeeze the water out. This way will get rid of some starch though, will be harder to get them to hold together.

The skirt steak - it sounds like a London Broil - did you slash the surface in a criss cross first? Gotta go by feel, either finger or tong, when its got coloured marinade. Depends how you like it. Feels soft, its under, feels a little firm with a spring back, rare, feels firmer with little spring back, medium, feels firm, well done. Feels hard - ditch it! Thermometers are fine in most instances, but feel is easier and quicker.

How long did you marinate? I know some recipes say 30 mins will do, but I like at least 3 hours, and at room temp if you can.

I made the worst fish cakes the other day BTW-had some left over cooked white fish (it had been poached in court bouillion), wasn't quite enough, so I added a can of drained mackerel (thinking of benefits of Omega 3 fish oil), removed skin, season with S&P, chilli powder, diced chillies, added in mash (from previous day) and sliced green beans.

Good grief they were awful. The white fish tasted fine on its own, the mackerel tasted fine on its own. Together? Blecch. No idea where I went wrong. Had been looking forward to them too. Rats :)

Any other sad meal stories out there?
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #4 of 9
White (flat or round) and oily fish don't usually go too well together in my experience. My experience being pretty similar to yours DC, too little of one and a little bit leftover of the other.
White fish and salmon is fine, esp in a nice, upmarket Admirals Pie but generally I don't think you should mix them. I might be wrong, I haven't been doing this cheffing lark long.
Btw, are your tinned/canned mackeral what us english chaps call 'sardines' or do you just have REALLY big cans? lol
Gotta love the bacon!
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Gotta love the bacon!
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post #5 of 9
Skirt steak, when served as "steak," is usually done rare. The preferred method is to apply a lot of heat for a very short time, and allow the steak to coast into rare-medium-rare on the rest.

If you're cooking in a pan, preheat the pan to just below the smoke point of oil, add a tiny bit of oil, then the steak. The first side will be done as soon as the steak releases -- typically about 90 seconds. Turn the steak, and cook for another minute then gently press with your fingers. If the steak pushes back at all, it's done. Remove and allow to rest for between 5 and 10 minutes on a warm plate.

We eat a lot of potato pancakes, usually latke style. That is, the grated potato is mixed with egg, flour (or other starch), onion, herbs and leavening (usually baking powder) and pan fried in oil. If you're interested, I can be more specific. I know you're recipe directed.

DC Sunshine is on point in his description of how to handle potatoes. I'm fussier still. I grate them, soak them, change waters, soak them some more; place in a colander, rinse and drain. I Remove the gratings a handful at a time, and squeeze each handful as dry as I can get it before putting in the mixing bowl. This makes for a sweeter product by getting rid of the bitter potato water. It also allows exact control of the starch by getting rid of the potato's surface starch and replacing it with flour. That and using the right amount of properly heated oil prevents the latkes from becoming greasy.

The nice thing about cooking compared to sculpting as an art form, is that your mistakes are gone in days instead of centuries.

BDL
post #6 of 9
I've learned to not make a whole meal out of experiments (the hard way). I want at least one thing to be something that I made before and came out great :D

By the way, your ham and cheese frittatas looked delicious!
post #7 of 9
The trick for an instant read thermometer on a thin cut of meat is to come in horizontally, from the side. This way you have a lot of meat to stick the probe into and can get a good reading.

Really though, you should do this coupled with a poke test of the meat so you learn how the meat feels at different doneness. Then you'll be able to tell doneness with a poke and not have to restort to the thermometer. As you practice this, start with the the poke, make your temp estimate and then verify with the thermometer to see how close you are.

Also take a look at Barbecue University® and scroll down to "How do I know when it's done?" Steve Raichlen gives another useful explanation of the poke test there. You'll also see this compared to pushing on the web between your thumb and forefinger in a loose fist (raw), medium clenched fist(medium rareish) and a tight fist (well done)

Phil

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
thanks for all the tips, one thing is for sure, the more you cook, the more you learn!

This summer is grill time. new weber. Lots of steaks......
post #9 of 9
Thanks for the tip - don't think I'll be trying them atogether again, will stick to one or t'other.

And lol, no, they are real mackerel, not just huge tins of the lil fellas :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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