Man Food 2

Son's Kitchen

GUESS: Mrs. Johnson
            Son [camera POV]

MRS. JOHNSON: [to son] Well, somebody certainly was hungry this morning. Sweetie, I love you. But it's time you started learning to cook for yourself. I can't keep coming over here every morning and leaving your father to make his own breakfast. You're 32 years old. Did it occur to you, you might meet a nice girl if you knew how to cook?
SON: [hands empty coffee mug to his mother]
MJ: I hate doing this, but you need help. So I've hired someone, a specialist to work with you.
SON: [attempts to exit, but is stopped by Clarence]
CLARENCE: Let's just keep calm, okay?
MJ: It's for your own good, sweetheart.
AB: [enters behind Clarence] That's right, it's for your own good. Excuse me, Clarence. So, I understand we're having a problem with breakfast?
MJ: This is Mr. Brown. He's an expert in these kinds of things. He'll have you ... He'll have you cooking for yourself in no time.
AB: Now, now, Mrs. Johnson, don't you cry. These, these cases are really quite common, and our chances for success are nearly 100 percent, as long as your son doesn't reject the treatment.
SON: [attempts to exit thru another exit but is again stopped by Clarence coming down the stairs]
 C: I packed a few of your things for you. Nice jammies.
AB: Just relax, okay? You've got some tough days ahead of you, that's true. But I think that, in the end, you'll find that not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, it's the first step on the road to ...

[Good Eats theme music]

The Kitchen

AB: Ah, there, please have a seat right there. And I'm sorry about the blindfold, but the exact location of this facility is, well, unpublished and not something you need to worry about. Now you're an average American guy, right? Of course you are. And that means that come morning, you want a cup of Joe, don't you?
SON: [hands AB a Koko Karl coffee mug]
AB: What's this? A Koko Karl Coffee 100,000 Cup Club cup. And it's insulated. It's, it's very, very nice. This will indeed hold coffee, a great deal of it, in fact. But it won't actually make it. Okay for that, you'll have to have a piece of equipment that actually puts coffee grounds in contact with water. Now, a bunch of tools will do the job, a percolator, an auto-drip machine, a vacuum pot. Basically there's a tool for every budget. And yours would be ...
[shows AB and empty wallet]
AB: What's this, what's this? A Koko Karl coffee club card. Tell you what, I want you to have this as a gift. It's called a French press. Can be used to brew coffee, tea, heck, you can even strain soup or emulsify a salad dressing in it. But we'll build up to that, you know, later. The point is, it's a grade-A multi-tasker, not to mention the cheapest tool in the lot. Now, it'll hold a quartthat's 32 ouncesbut with grounds, I wouldn't run it past about three cups, which would be 24 ounces. And since a standard cup of coffee is generally considered to be six ounces, that means we'll get four, four cups.

AB:     Now, water is actually the most important ingredient in coffee. If it doesn't taste great, neither will the coffee. Now my tap water actually tastes like the pool down at the Y. So I use a filter, I just keep this in the fridge. They're cheap. [puts it back in the fridge] There we go. And you'll notice that I've got 24 ounces here and I added an extra splash for evaporation. 24 Ounces Filtered Water

AB: Now we need this at a rolling boil. And ordinarily, I would look to an electric kettle to do this, but I know you don't have one. But I did note that you do have a microwave at your place, and that will certainly do the job. But here's a bit of a safety tip. Microwaves can actually heat water to a boil without bubbles forming. And when you reach in and grab it, the motion could set off an almost explosive boilover that could, well, really scald your hands. So, Clarence ...
 C: Got what you need right here. [hand SON some chopsticks]
AB: A wooden chop stick, or even just a wooden skewer placed thusly, will provide what's called nucleation points so that the bubbles can form and you won't have to go through all that pain and suffering.
    So into the microwave and I'm just going to go with, say, five and a half minutes on high. But the time, of course, will depend upon your exact make and model. That will give us time to deal with the other software: that's what we call ingredients around here. I speak, of course, of the coffee beans.
    Now I keep my beans up here with the spices. Why would I do that? Because coffee is a spice. Think about it, it's a dried seed full of volatile compounds that we want to preserve until we're ready to get them out. So, I store coffee beans like I would store spices. Air tight containment, all right, and I keep it away from heat, and I keep it away from light. So, what is the number one thing that you can do for your coffee? Well, believe it or not, it is wait and grind right before you're ready to brew, okay? You are going to have to grind the beans yourself.
    Now, take a look at these and tell me, which of these devices would be most suitable for the job? [hands the Son a View Master] Go ahead, have a look.
SON: [flips through where he sees 2 old fashioned grinders but then stops  on a workbench grinding wheel]
AB: Okay, let's see what you got, let's take a look. Ah, well as an American male, I can certainly see the attraction. She's a beauty. But it's not the kind of grinder we need.
    You see, what we want to do is break the beans into uniform pieces so that we can use water to extract maximum flavor. Now a blade grinder like this would be inexpensive, and it would certainly get the job done. But these blades, well, they will never create, really, a uniform grind. [shows a sample] See what I mean? That's why I vastly prefer a burr grinder. It costs more, but it's worth it. It uses this big-toothed, conical grinding wheel that nests down into a stationary-toothed receiver. And the beans are fed in from the hopper and ground to the same size. The grind can be adjusted with this knob, that changes the distance between the grinder and the receiver.
    Now typically, slower brewing methods, like say, percolating, take longer, so you want to use a larger grind. As opposed to, say, espresso or Turkish coffee, which uses an almost talcum-like, fine powder grind. Now our French press is, well, a medium slow method. And so we will go with a grind that is right slap dab in the middle.

    Now, here's something to memorize and there will be a test. Have a look. Two tablespoons of ground coffee, plus six ounces of boiling water, plus a pinch of salt to counteract the bitterness equals one cup of man coffee.

6 OZ H2O

Next up, eggs, bacon & hashbrowns [sic] (man food)!

The Kitchen

AB: So, we want four six-ounce cups, two tablespoons per cup, and that means that we want eight tablespoons, and that equals half a cup. ½ Cup Ground Coffee
    Now the last thing that I want you to do in the morning is have to measure coffee, so I've taken the liberty of placing a rubber band at just about the half cup mark there on the little carafe so that you can just grind right up to the line and that's all you have to do. So, do me a favor. Dump that straight in. Our water is done, that's good. I do like a pinch of salt, use kosher salt, right there, to knock off some of the bitter edge. Pinch of Kosher Salt

    And here comes the water. Of course, it's important to remove the chop sticks, and actually we're going to use those. I like to pour in just enough water to wet the grounds. That'll make sure that there are no dry air pockets kind of hiding in there. And also gives a good opportunity for the grounds to swell up, because they're being agitated, and that'll extract more flavor. So once you've got a nice little slurry going, go pour on the rest of the water. There. We'll place the plunger on top just to keep things warm, but no plunging, not at this point. And turn on your timer, four minutes is what we're looking for. Anything less would under-extract the coffee, anything more would over-extract. Either way, you'd have bad eats.
    [4 minutes later at the table] The brew is complete. It is now time to take the plunge. Straight down on the column, please, ever so slowly, should take about 30 seconds to reach the bottom. Keep in mind you are pushing the grounds out of the way, but you're also forming an emulsion, okay, using that mesh to emulsify the oil phase of the beans into the water. And that is going to give us a very nice body. Okay, good job.
    Now, if you find that this coffee is too weak for you, then just decrease the grind size. But do not extend the brew period, or you will over-extract, and that is not a good thing as it will lead to bitterness. There. If you prefer your coffee on the weaker side, well I don't know, I'd say um ...
 C: Get over it.
AB: Yes, exactly. Get over it. Now we have good color in the cup, the fragrance is nice, and deep, the flavor ... [takes a sip] ... excellent, wouldn't you agree, Clarence?
 C: Absolutely. But you know, Mr. B, breakfast sure would be nice.
AB: Breakfast. I concur. That would be lovely. Let's cook.
AB &  C: [both point to the Son]
SON: [tries to make a hasty escape]
AB: Where you going little man? Why don’t you try the other one?
SON: [first tries a locked door and then heads to another which he runs into and passes out]

Grocery Store Simulator

AB: Nope. Nope. Wait, wait, wait ... Here he is. Hey, welcome back.
 C: Sorry about that door. I told Mr. B over and over that we really need to fix that hinge.
AB: And I just keep putting it off. Hey, do you like bacon? Of course you do. You know, you can't cook up the bacon until you bring home the bacon. Now we didn't think you were quite ready for an actual market, so we're going to be using this simulator. [places his hand on a hand imprint decoder, the door opens, he walks through] It's very user-friendly. Nothing to worry about. Come on in.

BEEF TENDERLOIN        $3.99 lb
RIBEYE STEAK           $7.69 lb
FILET MIGNON           $9.99 lb
FLAT IRON STEAK        $3.99 lb
GROUND CHUCK           $2.59 lb
TOP SIRLOIN            $3.99 lb
BEEF CUBED STEAK       $3.49 lb
BEEF SHORT RIBS        $3.99 lb
CHICKEN THIGHS            $1.99 lb
CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS        $1.09 lb
WHOLE CHICKEN             $1.29 lb
MIXED PORK CHOPS          $1.99 lb
PORK TENDERLOIN           $3.99 lb
BABY BACK RIBS            $3.89 lb
SPARE RIBS                $1.99 lb
CENTER CUB BACON          $3.49 lb

Eat more BACON!

    Okay, quality American mega marts can feature up to ten different kinds of bacon in a wide array of styles, and with vast range of prices attached. How do you sort them all out? Well, you could sort them by whether they are mass-market national brands, or specialty, artisan brands. What's the difference there? Well, the artisanal producers take fresh pork bellies, like that, and they rub them down with salt and herbs. Here take that. [hands Son a latex glove] They let them sit, cure, for days, sometimes even weeks before, then smoke them long and low over smoldering hard wood. The results are miraculous. But the process takes time, and time is money, and money is, well, gosh-darned expensive.

    Now, budget-minded national brands often just pump previously frozen bellies full of all kinds of chemicals: sodium, what is it, eyrthorbate, sodium nitrate, phosphates and the like. And then they spray them down with liquid smoke. I know of a couple of factories can do the entire process in a couple of hours, instead of weeks. The results are, well, you get what you pay for, if you know what I mean.
    Anyway, oh another way of sorting bacon is by flavor: hickory, mesquite, apple wood, maple, brown sugar and Clarence’s favorite, black pepper.
 C: I like my bacon to bite back, know what I'm saying?
AB: I think we do. What I mean by all this is that bacon isn't simple. But don't worry. We've got some nice, easy tips for you to use.
    Okay, now here's the first one, start at the full service counter. If there is slab bacon, that is bacon that hasn't been cut into pieces, or rashers, then this is where you want to start. And make sure you ask the butcher to slice thick pieces. It's more manly.
    You may also see cut bacon just stacked up in here, and you might think it'll be dried up. But actually, it's vastly superior to the stuff you'll find wrapped in plastic. Take a look. See this? Even portions of fat and lean meat, both are streaks rather than blobs, the fat is nice and firm and the aroma, smoke, but it's not overwhelming. This is good stuff. Oh I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Oh, but this looks brown, while this stuff over here looks pink." That's because this was cured with some chemicals, nitrites, which can be kind of nasty stuff. They say it even causes cancer. This is actually the better bacon, even if it isn't as pretty.
    Now I realize that not all markets offer such a porcine bounty. So, let's peruse the average mega mart display, which generally will feature three different levels.
    Now I want you to steer clear of the bottom rack. It's usually full of budget stuff, fatty, full of chemicals and water, blah! Don't reach for the top shelf, either, because it's usually the expensive stuff, and, well your mom mentioned that you've been, you know, kind of in between jobs. Look, just stick with what is in the middle.
    Now, look at these rashers. Yyou see how they're shaped and stacked so that it looks very, very lean? Well the good stuff will be that way all the way through. But you got to buy it to find out, all right? Two words to look for, "center cut" meaning the slab came from the leaner, meatier center of the belly, and "thick cut," which means the rashers are of course, thicker than standard.
    Until you develop a few favorites, I would just stick with whatever brand is right in the middle, price-wise. And remember, these days most bacon is designed with refrigeration in mind, okay? So keep this stuff cold at all times, except of course, when you're cooking it. Clarence.
 C: Here you go, take a look at this. [places a View Master in front of the Son]

"Uncured" bacon is produced without chemical preservatives.
It is "cured" however, with the natural nitrates found in celery juice.

The Kitchen

AB: Cooking bacon can be as treacherous as buying bacon. In fact, next to nuts, bacon is the food most often burned by professionals in the restaurant environment. That's because as the moisture cooks out of the slices, the heat can suddenly go up very, very quickly, leading to, to burning. And of course, the fat and lean contract at different rates and that leads to wrinkles, which only makes things worse.
    Now the oven is an attractive option, as roasted bacon is flat and evenly crisp. But, it is a slow method and so we turn to one of my favorite, every day multi-taskers. That's right. This is called a waffle iron and here is kind of my little trick. Now since they shrink as they cook, long pieces of bacon can get all stretched out, and kind of gnarly. So I cut them in half with my trusty shears, and I simply arrange in the iron thusly. Now if your iron features a temperature control, just shoot for dead center there. Get your pieces arranged and set your timer for two and a half minutes.
    [2.5 minutes later] Just open the lid and move around the pieces just enough so that any unseared areas will come into direct contact with the metal. There, close the lid, and we'll time another two and a half minutes.
    So that'll give us just enough time to start prepping those hash browns. You do like hash browns, don't you? Of course. Clarence, take him down to level three.
 C: My pleasure.

Level 3: Short Order Diner Simulator

 C: Welcome to level three. He's already inside waiting for you.
AB: You know it doesn't matter where you go, the best hash browns in town will always be found at the local diner, where short order cooks conjure magic from massive hot slabs of steel called griddles. Now I do not imagine for a moment that we are going to turn you into a short order cook. But there are some hash brown tips to be gleaned from this environment.
    All right, now first thing is the selection of the proper potato. We begin, as all short order cooks do, with the russet potato. You probably saw this in your mom's kitchen. It is the standard baking potato, and it's also known as, that's right, Mr. Potato Head. Now this particular model weighs 8 ounces, that is plenty for two people to have hash browns. But until you get off the sofa and deal with that pasty complexion, I don't think you need to worry about making breakfast for two, if you know what I mean.
 C: Oh now maybe we can get him set up on a workout program or something.
AB: Well at this point, good point, Clarence, but I think we need to get him feeding himself first. Now the next thing is, of course, we have to grate these. And short order guys use a grater that looks a lot like this. Okay now I know it just looks like a box grater, but see those holes? Those are very large holes and that's important because we want the potatoes to actually be in individual strips, okay, you see how they stay separate, and that requires a really big strip. Problem is, most graters come from the store looking like this. Notice, holes are much, much smaller. So what does the clever short order cook do? He takes himself some needle-nose pliers, he just puts it inside the holes like this and kind of pries them open. It'll take you about 10 minutes, just go to each hole and knock that open. All right, and it's no big deal because that costs about $15 bucks.
    All right, so when the grating is done, of course, there's some cooking to be done. And I don't expect you to go out and get a nice, big griddle like this, because let's face it, your place is a little on the small side. So what we want you to do is learn how to use this. This is a ten-inch cast iron skillet. It's very, very cheap to procure. And with just a little bit of care, it will become one of your best friends. And let's face it, you could use some friends right about now.
 C: Mr. B., You kill me.
AB: Aw thanks, Clarence, it's nothing, really. All right, go ahead and give this a lift, a little on the heavy side. And take a look at that nice, dark black surface. That's a good cure right there.

The Kitchen

    Okay the pan is over medium-low heat. Now I want you to remove the bacon off [of the waffle iron] to some paper towel to drain, and then just pour, say, a tablespoon of that fat directly into the pan. There you go. Hurry up, now check this out. I have grated about half of a potato, but all that moisture is going to kill us. [has it wrapped in a thin towel] So I'm just going to wring it out, there, in a kitchen towel. Now this goes directly into the pan, along with a heavy pinch of kosher salt. And we'll let this cook, untouched, for five minutes. 1 Tbs. Bacon Fat

4 Ounces Grated Russet
Pinch of Kosher Salt

The term "hash" comes from the French hacher, meaning to hack or chop.

The Kitchen

GUEST: "W", Equipment Specialist

AB: All right, your hash browns are looking good, kind of sticking together there. It's time to flip them and you're going to do it. Just take that flexible spatula, dig down and just try to roll that whole thing over, there you go. Yeah. That's good. Just kind of scatter it out a little bit. Yeah. That's fine, that's fine. All right, lower the heat all the way down to low, and we're going to set our timer to five minutes. We're not going to touch it. Now that will give us time to deal with the eggs. Now you know where eggs come from, right?
SON: [looks over at the papier-mâché chicken]
AB: Yes, that one's papier-mâché, but you got the right idea. We're going to fry these and it's not as hard as you might think. In fact, if I was cooking with the hash browns, I would just toss them in the pan. But, we're going to say for the sake of argument that we're doing them separately. And in that case, you might want a different pan, one that's made up ... Oh, hey W.
W: Pay attention. Eggs contain a lot of protein.
AB: You can actually think of them as liquid meat.
W: And what happens to proteins when they cook?
AB: They coagulate.
W: And that's why they stick to pan surfaces. Pans aren't really smooth, not on the microscopic level anyway. So when it comes to eggs, you want a non-stick surface. For one or two eggs, something in the eight-inch range will do. And don't you ever, ever scrub that with an abrasive or I will hunt you down.
 C: Oh she'll do it too. I've heard some pretty scary stories.
AB: Okay, just because these eggs are going to be fried, doesn’t mean they are going to be fried hard. Low heat is key in this operation. So the pan goes over, we'll say, two to three on the heat index.
    Okay, as for the eggs themselves, it is really important that they go into the pan at exactly the same time. So we will crack them both into this little bowl. It's called a custard cup, a very practical thing to have around. Always crack on a flat surface, not on the edge of a bowl or anything. And hold the egg so that it doesn't crack too much, and then into the cup, there.

    Now we are ready to go on that, the pan is getting warm, so one teaspoon of butter right in the middle. That's going to foam up a little bit as it melts because there's water in the butter. If the pan's too hot, it will brown; we don't want that. That looks okay. 1 tsp. Unsalted Butter

    Okay, while I swirl that, you want to give those hash browns a little bit of a poke there, okay, a little poke. There you go.
    Okay, come back over, this is good. [the butter has all melted] The eggs go right in the middle. A pinch of kosher salt, there you go, and we'll do just a little grind of pepper, and cover. This way, the eggs will actually steam on top and they'll stay nice and soft. Three minutes for slightly runny yolks, five minutes for hard set.
    You are now a breakfast animal.

Son's Kitchen

SON: [un-skillets two cooked eggs onto a plate with hash browns and bacon in front of AB and C]
AB: Yeah, wow. You know, next time I'll show you how to do four or even six eggs at a time with the hash browns in the same pan.
    Well you know, Clarence, I think that our work here is just about done.
MJ: [enters with a full laundry basket] Hi honey, I brought all your laundry for the week.
AB & C: [look at each other and frown]
 C: And then again, maybe not.

Transcribed by Jennifer Schleicher
Proofread by Michael Menninger

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010