I can’t live by your rules, man!
I have this contrary streak in me. I absolutely cannot stand it when people think they know what’s best for me. I’m not talking about highly trained, highly paid experts in their fields like lawyers, doctors, and plumbers.
I’m talking about the Mr. You Shoulds, and Mrs. You Oughtas. The kind of folks that are ecstatic to tell you what you’re doing wrong in your life, and how to fix yourself. Like the old lady who’s never had kids, but knows exactly how to raise them. Or the guy, who because of his particular belief system, knows every answer to every question, and feels duty-bound to share his very special wisdom.I have such an aversion to those people and their rules, that I’m the girl that would rather have a spectacular failure than let somebody tell me what to do.
In the kitchen there are multitudes of experts, each with box cars full of do and don’ts. But when cooking, as in the rest of my life, I gotta make my own mistakes, and learn from them.
What follows are a few rules folks have decided are mandatory iron-clad laws that should never, on pain of death be ignored. And why I think they are so much horse hockey.
Never salt your steak before cooking.Nope, and here’s why. Unless you’re purchasing and cooking restaurant quality aged meat, the best thing that can happen to your steak is some salt and a little rest in the fridge for a couple days.
A good portion of the weight in a piece of beef is water. When you salt it, loosely wrap it in some paper towels, and let it rest in the refrigerator for a few days, you are doing a homemade dry age. The salt draws out the water, which concentrates the flavor, and makes that Kroger New York strip taste closer to something you might get at Angus Barn.
Never make a recipe for the first time for guests.
Wrong. If this is a recipe you have the skill to tackle, do it. Unless you’ve invited the queen or Coach K, there’s no need to be perfect. The people who sit at your table are friends and family who want you to succeed. Be careful, and don’t go too far off the reservation recipe-wise, but go for it. At best you’ll have a new recipe with lots of feedback, and at worst, you’ll have a funny story they’ll tell at your wake.
The next one pinches a little. I recently had one of the very few arguments I’ve ever had with my best friend of 37 years, Bo, over this very thing. Neither of us changed our minds.
Conventional wisdom is to never, ever wash fresh mushrooms. Again, I say nay.
If I’m prepping for a salad that I’m eating right away, then I brush the dreck off the ‘shrooms. If they have time to sit in a colander and dry off, I don’t. If I’m cooking them, I always wash them.
Mushrooms are 90% water. There is a negligible ability to absorb more. The few drops left on them from a brief shower will make no appreciable difference to taste or texture. And for the optimal flavor of cooked mushrooms, you should cook out all the water anyway.
So I guess the moral to this tale is learn, listen to advice, but make up your own mind as to the worth of that advice.
You do you.
Thanks for your time.