Recently, I cooked with a two star Michelin, a cooking class, and we prepared a medallion of pork rolled with herbs from his garden. The menu was superb and the raw materials, as fresh and aromatic as possible; pineapple herbs, lemon, sage, etc, a garden extraordinaire. We talked about sous vides, a technique is doesn’t really use for such a preparation and I understand why. It was his intention to get the juices of the pork’s rendering of the fats instead of even cooking and his secret ingredient.
Sous vides techniques aren’t the only means to cook but the worst thing you can do is over cook a good piece of meat. Too often, in my travels, I try to explain the idea of heat transfer and energy in cooking, though I am not a scientist. Chefs often believe that their techniques work best. Their old ways – don’t bend easily.
It is basically very simple to understand what happens when you cook meat in a skillet; the upper-side of the meat’s surface when cooking is exposed to the air, while the lower side, making direct contact is heating up. By the time you flip the meat, the upper surface is cold, and by the time it heats up (once flipped) the other surface begins to cool and the heat doesn’t penetrate the meat sufficiently.
Now what was the chef’s secret ingredient? I figure that he had a few and without understanding the science, and out of habit he cooks that way, so there is no real secret, except he uses a Culatello Zibello sliced thinly to add some fat.
Given the chef used butter and butter consists of butterfat, milk proteins and water, he had a enough fat and vapor that you otherwise wouldn’t get from using olive oil in a shallow skillet.
His cookery was a heavy cast iron pot with very high sides and he crowded the meat to keep the sides warm. When I tried to turn the meat over, he gently touched my hand and said, slowly.
I am not sure he had it 100%, but the technique “kind of worked” and the dish was tasty and successful. The key was, the butter and the sauce he made which covered the pink center.