Today begins a news series of posts on what I am calling Ctrl-Alt-Del(ete) Cooking Techniques. For Mac users like my PC challenged colleague Michael Ruhlman, for instance, who are unfamiliar with the term, pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del is what you do in Windows when you want to terminate an open but wonky application. So from hereon a Ctrl-Alt-Del cooking technique is one that for one reason or another should be terminated.
Whether it is dangerous, inefficient, too costly to justify the expense or just plain stupid just hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and stop it before it ties up so much RAM space that our great culinary operating system crashes.
What got me thinking about this is a section in Cooks Illustrated magazine where cooking tips from readers are posted. Some of the offerings are pretty good, but some are, Ahem, kind of silly. Consider this one for example:
"When my mom fries fish, she uses a blow-dryer to remove moisture from the skin."
Why, was she so inspired by her fried hair that she wanted to try the technique on fish or was she making a clever fugu metaphor? If you want to dry off the fish wouldn't isn't it more practical to use a towel?
How about this tip for pit free lemon juice?
"Cut the lemon in quarters and put the quantity you need in a plastic bag. Squeeze the lemon quarters in the bag."...then use scissors to cut a hole that is smaller than the seeds.
Uhm...ever hear of a strainer?
One of my personal favorites was something my boss (a six foot four inch red headed coke freak and self-proclaimed chef) did when I was working at his parent's shop in 1981. After days of being reminded about the case of chickens that was sitting in the walk-in, he finally yanks them out and finds that they now smell like a supermarket loading dock. "No problem" he says "Get me a bottle of bleach" and proceeds to dump the case of chicken into the pot sink and fill it with water. Then he pours in 2 quarts of bleach and says "Just let it sit for an hour and we'll put it in the terryaki sauce. Noboby will know the difference.
If you know of a technique that should be or should have been terminated, please add it in a comment or email it to me at email@example.com and I'll feedback.