Wednesday, November 16, 2016

the analytical cook?

Whenever i try to do something,
i think about it,
research it
and try to remember my mom's or a restaraunts way...
when i eat out -
 i try to figure out
 some of the things that made a particular,
"something" so good...

here are some examples:
A bowl of chili at a restaurant, where the chopped meat was tender!
There were other difference, but i never had a bowl of chili where the meat tasted "medium rare" tender...
what did they do?
They cooked the chili "base separately, then added the beef uncooked into the hot bowl and let the chili cook it.

I was cooking dry beans and remembered some thing vaguely and tried to look it up...
No food site had anything i wanted, but several chemistry sites did...
i remembered my mom adding baking soda to the water she soaked the beans in and there was some mention in a food site of it being an old time method, but did not answer the question: Why?
The chemistry sites all pointed out that beans are neutral in pH (acidity) and that acid makes the outer shell tough!

Put these 2 thoughts together and when i make  vegetarian chili with beans and some other vegetables...
Eureka!
I have a method!

Beans are soaked in slightly basic (using baking soda) water.
they are then cooked in all the elements of my chili that is not acidic - this means any tomatoes,
onions, vinegar, beer sugar or chili peppers are cooked separately.
dry spice, water, salt, butter and other vegetables are cooked with the beans.

they are blended after the beans are cooked, usually just before serving...
the result is a vegetarian chili which was described by one meat only chili person eating it at a cook-off as surprisingly wonderful.