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Oct 10, 2010 09:31 AM

Debunking food myths

An interesting new Seriouseats piece explaining why some common food myths are wrong:

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  1. Interesting article. I was expecting stuff like 'searing doesn't seal in juices' but some of these were news to me.

    The 'large pot for pasta' advice is particularly ubiquitous. The explanation makes sense. They never explained why a large pot would indeed be important for fresh pasta - I wonder if it's the quicker cooking time (more heat energy to transfer to the pasta over a short time) or if the concern is just making sure fresh pasta doesn't clump together.

    I think a lot of the point of limiting excessive burger flipping while grilling actually is getting those hash marks (also, to a lesser extent - not breaking up the burger). I never found that food cooks poorly with multiple flips but I'm surprised to read it cooks so much faster.

    As for moister methods not necessarily yielding moister meats - that I already knew. Not sure if it's fairly common knowledge or not. Braising yields results that seem moister because of the gelatin created and its moist mouthfeel. Easy to see where that myth comes from.

    Big surprise too on oil absorbed being proportional (not inversely so) to oil temperature. Obviously not gonna change the way I deep fry but good to know.

    Thanks for providing the link.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cowboyardee

      CI alluded to this fact with frying as well when showing their take on the Roubuchon method of starting out in cold oil

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Surprised at the grammar errors. "Cook meat in a moist environment, and you'll end up with meat that's moisture if you cook it in a dry environment."

      2. I've been cooking my (dried) pasta with that method (add pasta to boiling water in smaller pot, bring water back to boil, cover with lid and remove from heat) for awhile now. Works great and is easier on my electric bill (sigh, no gas on my street).

        I always flip my burgers multiple times, too. They do indeed cook faster and more evenly.

        My biggest surprise was the one about cooking beans in salted water. I have always had problems with my beans exploding or breaking up. I'm definitely going to try salting now.

        1. I'm going to have to read that explanation about a pot's energy vs. temperature again (either I or it are muddled). But I would say that one good reason to cook at least some pasta shapes in a big pot is so that they don't all stick together in a hard-to-fix mass. The dangers of a big ball of gunky spaghetti is no myth!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Wisco

            If it weren't so rude, I'd type this in all caps - so read this as me screaming: "the pasta does not clump up when you put it in boiling water, give it a stir, shut off the heat, and cover the pot!"

            I have been making pasta of all shapes this way, a pound to 2-1/2 quarts of boiling water, for several years now. It will need a quick stir once the timer rings (you add a couple of minutes to the cooking time on the box), but the shapes or strands retain their shape and do not continue to stick to one another. Before I learned about shutting off the heat and covering, I used to simmer a pound of pasta in the same 3qt pot and found it stuck a little bit - MORE than when the heat is off.

            There's truth to the adage, "Don't knock it till you've tried it."!

            1. re: greygarious

              Agreed. Never had a big ball of spaghetti come out of my small pot, although I rarely cook a whole pound at a time since there are only 2 of us.

          2. Oh dear, if one more TV host tries to tell me not to wash my mushrooms because they absorb water! Ugh.
            Dear Mr. Everyday Exotic, please have a chat with Alton Brown.
            Thank you.