For the Best Results for your Steak Grilling, check your Cooking Temperature…

How done is done?

Prime graded NY strips

great quality steaks

Steak lovers all like their Steak cooked a certain way, and why not? Having a great Steak is part of enjoying the good life and our individual choices are what make us unique. To accommodate everyone’s unique taste there are many different levels of cooking that all have their advantages. So, cook it the way you like! Here is a guide to common steak temperatures.

Raw: Raw meat dishes must be done with the highest quality of meat and although it is designated as raw, most dishes that call for raw beef use citrus or some other acidic compound that actually does “cook” the meat a little. Common dishes that may contain raw beef are Steak Tartar and Carpaccio.

Blue Rare/ Very Rare / Pittsburgh (100 degrees F. core temp): When a steak is prepared “Blue” it has to be cooked very quickly. The steak’s outside is seared over high heat while the inside is still cool or barely warmed. Steaks prepared to this temperature are slightly chewy and not as juicy since there has not been much heat applied to draw out the natural juices in the steak.

Rare (120 degrees F. core temp): These Steaks are also cooked very quickly with a browned/seared external facade. The inside is dark red and only slightly warm. Rare steaks can be very juicy and for a lot of steak connoisseurs, this is the only way to go.

Medium-rare (126 degrees F. core temp): These are Steaks cooked to a red yet warm center. Many consider this to be the sweet spot for a steak. No part of the steak is cold and very little of the steaks juices have been cooked away.

Medium (135 degrees F. core temp): The center is heated and red center is surrounded by pink gradations. The outside façade is brown and fully cooked. Medium is truly a great temperature because every part of the steak is piping hot when eaten. Medium is probably the second most popular temperature for premium steaks.

Medium-well (145 degrees F. core temp): The center is slightly pink with gradations of grey that permeates the entire Steak’s interior. The outside of the steak is brown and fully cooked. Medium-well is probably the highest temperature anyone should consider cooking a high quality steak and not waste the superfluous money acquiring that premium marker. As heat is increased moisture and flavor is decreased in a medium-well cooked steak. Medium-well is still a great tasting steak but will not be as juicy as a medium or medium-rare steak.

Well Done (165 degree F. core temp): The meat is brown throughout and slightly charred. You might just consider eating a piece of shoe leather for the same pleasure platitudes.

NY Strips

Picture of great quality steaks

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PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO DOP, in Miami

Where you come from matters. The relationship between Parmigiano-Reggiano and its area of origin is inescapable. It only comes from Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, to the left of the Reno River, and Mantua to the right of the Po River. 4,000 farms produce milk of exceptional quality from cows fed a healthy, all-natural diet of local grass. Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano requires 160 gallons of this milk, which is transformed into cheese by 400 cheese makers. Matured a minimum of 12 months before testing and certification, most wheels are aged 24 months or more.

History

According to legend, Parmigiano-Reggiano was created in the course of the Middle Ages in Bibbiano, in the province. Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas. Historical documents show that in the 13th and 14th centuries, Parmigiano was already very similar to that produced today, which suggests its origins can be traced to far earlier.

        It was praised as early as 1348 in the writings of Boccaccio; in the Decameron, he invents ‘a mountain, all of grated Parmesan cheese’, on which ‘dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli, and boil them in capon’s broth, and then throw them down to be scrambled for; and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that ever was drunk, and never a drop of water therein.

        During the Great Fire of London of 1666, Samuel Pepys buried his “Parmazan cheese, as well as his wine and some other things” to preserve them.

       In the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova, he remarked that the name “Parmesan” was a misnomer common throughout an “ungrateful” Europe in his time (mid-18th century), as the cheese was produced in the town of Lodi, Lombardy, not Parma. Though Casanova knew his table and claimed in his memoir to have been compiling a (never completed) dictionary of cheeses, his comment has been taken to refer mistakenly to a grana cheese very similar to “Parmigiano”, the Grana Padano, which is produced in the Lodi area.

 

parm tasting

 

Our Parma tasting this past week.

parm-reggiano

 

 

GRANA PADANO DOP

GRANA PADANO DOP, cheese without pedigree…..

The Grana Padano Consortium promotes the understanding and appreciation of Grana Padano DOP, one of the most popular and best-selling cheeses in the world. With a history that dates back to 12th century Cistercian monks in the region of Veneto, the extraordinary people who produce, age and sell Grana Padano DOP are beyond passionate about the cheese’s origin and taste. In order to be certified DOP, Grana must be produced along the Po River Valley in the northern regions of Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. There are 6,193 farms in the Po Valley that exclusively produce Grana Padano DOP using the highest quality Italian milk from Italian cows. The cows are raised following rigorous guidelines and are milked no more than twice a day. Grana Padano DOP must be aged for at least 9 months and can be aged for up to 2 years.

Jamón ibérico, Spanish Proscuitto….

Jamón ibérico “Iberian ham”, also called pata Negra and carna Negra “black hoof” is a type of cured ham produced mostly in Spain, but also in some Portuguese regions where it is called presunto ibérico. According to Spain’s Denominación de Origen rules on food products, the jamón ibérico may be made from black Iberian pigs, or cross-bred pigs as long as they are at least 75% ibérico.

hand carved Jamon_iberico_joselita

 

Jamon_Bellota_2007_BEHER_Bernardo_Hernandez_G

 

Jamon_Iberico_on_Passeig_de_Gracia_Barcelona

Production:
The black Iberian pig lives primarily in the south and southwest parts of Spain, including the provinces of Salamanca, Ciudad Real, Cáceres, Badajoz, Seville, Córdoba(Denomination of Origin Los Pedroches) and Huelva. It also lives in the southeast parts of Portugal (Barrancos), where it is referred to as porco de raça alentejana.
Immediately after weaning, the piglets are fattened on barley and maize for several weeks. The pigs are then allowed to roam in pasture and oak groves to feed naturally on grass, herbs, acorns, and roots, until the slaughtering time approaches. At that point, the diet may be strictly limited to olives or acorns for the best quality jamón ibérico, or may be a mix of acorns and commercial feed for lesser qualities.

The hams from the slaughtered pigs are salted and left to begin drying for two weeks, after which they are rinsed and left to dry for another four to six weeks. The curing process then takes at least twelve months, although some producers cure their jamones ibéricos for up to 48 months.

In particular, the ibérico hams from the towns of Guijuelo in the Salamanca province and Jabugo in the Huelva province are known for their consistently high quality and both have their own Denominación de Origen. Almost the entire town of Jabugo is devoted to the production of jamón ibérico; the biggest producer is 5J Sánchez Romero Carvajal. The town’s main square is called La plaza del Jamón.

Characteristics

The hams are labeled according to the pigs’ diet, with an acorn diet being most desirable:
• The finest is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. It is also known as jamón ibérico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is cured for 36 months.
• The next grade is called jamón ibérico de recebo. This ham is from pigs that are pastured and fed a combination of acorns and grain.
• The third type is called jamón ibérico de cebo, or simply, jamón ibérico. This ham is from pigs that are fed only grain. The ham is cured for 24 months.

Additionally, the word puro (pure, referring to the breed) can be added to the previous qualities when both the father and mother of the slaughtered animal are of pure breed and duly registered on the pedigree books held by official breeders.
The term pata negra is also used to refer to jamón ibérico in general, and may refer to any one of the above three types. The term refers to the color of the pigs’ nails, which are white in most traditional pork breeds, but black for the Black Iberian breed. While as a general rule, a black nail should indicate an Ibérico ham, there are cases of counterfeits, with the nails being manually painted.
Jamones de bellota are prized both for their smooth texture and rich, savory taste. A good ibérico ham has regular flecks of intramuscular fat. Because of the pig’s diet of acorns, much of the fat is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.
The fat content is relatively high compared to jamón serrano, thus giving a rich taste.

Availability in the United States
Until recently, jamón ibérico was not available in the United States (a fact referenced in the movie Perdita Durango, where the ham ofJabugo is praised as “illegal, but delicious”).
Prior to 2005, only pigs raised and slaughtered outside of Spain were allowed to be processed in Spain for export to the United States. In 2005, the first slaughterhouse in Spain, Embutidos y Jamones Fermín, S.L., was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture to produce ibérico ham products for export to the United States.
The first jamones ibéricos were released for sale in the United States in December 2007, with the bellota hams due to follow in July 2008. The basic jamón ibérico is priced upwards of $80 a pound, and the bellota is priced upwards of $99 a pound, making these hams some of the most expensive in the world.

Originally seen on Wikipages

Oils the Cooking story…

The Cooking Oils You Should be Using, and When to Use Them

Someone who follows food news knows that butter is back. What’s really in is cooking oil.

 

In 2010, while Americans consumed 4.9 pounds of butter a year per capita, they consumed 53.6 pounds of cooking oil. From commonly used oils like canola and olive to others like avocado and hempseed oil, there are a ton of oils out there to use for culinary purposes. With so many kinds of oils, choosing the right one for cooking can be daunting.

Health benefits aside, the key factors you need to consider are heating temperature and flavor. Oils break down at a certain temperature, which is known as their smoke point. The smoke point for oils is always a rough estimate, because the breakdown happens gradually and not at a precise moment, and also because smoke points depend on how refined the oil is. Regular olive oil is more refined than extra virgin olive oil, and there might be varying degrees of refinement for various peanut oils.

Unrefined oils have lower smoke points than refined oils, which make them good for salad dressings. They also tend to have a stronger flavor. Refined oils have higher smoke points and typically a more neutral flavor, which makes them better for sautéing, frying or even deep-frying.
Here are 11 common cooking oils, and how to choose the right one for your recipes.
• Olive Oil, always the star of the show…

Olive oil on the shelves at Laurenzos

Olive oil on the shelves at Laurenzos

What it is: Olive oil comes from pressing whole olives. While it’s used all over the world, it is the primary cooking oil used in the Mediterranean. It is high in good-for-your-heart monounsaturated fatty acids.
Smoke point: Smoke points vary depending on the type of olive oil: Extra Virgin is 320°F, Virgin is 420°F, Pomace is 460°F, Extra Light is 468°F
What it’s good for: Extra virgin olive oil has the richest flavor because it is made without any heat or chemicals, which makes it good for salad dressings and drizzling. Refined olive oil is good for sautéing.
What it’s bad for: Frying and deep-frying
Canola Oil

What it is: Canola oil is low in saturated fat, with only seven percent saturated fat — compared to sunflower oil, which has 12 percent, and olive oil, which 15 percent saturated fat. It has a neutral flavor, high smoke point and is also relatively inexpensive.
Smoke point: 400°F
What it’s good for: All-purpose, good for cooking and dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling where flavor is required
• Vegetable Oil

What it is: Vegetable oil refers to any plant-based oil, which may include any or a combination of the following: soybean, sunflower or safflower oil. Most vegetable oils have a high smoke point and neutral flavor, which make them great for baking.
Smoke point: Depends on the brand because of its mixed ratios of Canola, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, etc…
What it’s good for: All-purpose, good for cooking and dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling where flavor is required
• Peanut Oil

What it is: Peanut oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, which makes it great for deep-frying and a range of other cooking. It’s made from pressed steam-cooked peanuts and is popular in Asian cooking.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying, pan-frying, roasting and grilling
What it’s bad for: Baking or anything that requires a neutral flavor
• Grapeseed oil

What it is: Grapeseed oil is versatile — it has a somewhat neutral flavor and medium-high smoke point. It can be used in salad dressings, but also works for sautéing and baking. And it’s a by-product of wine-making!
Smoke point: 392°F
What it’s good for: Sautéing, frying and salad dressings
What it’s bad for: Deep frying
• Sunflower Oil

What it is: Sunflower oil’s high smoke point and light flavor make it a favorite for frying, but it is also good oil for baking. It is made from pressed sunflower seeds, is high in vitamin E and low in saturated fat.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Frying, margarine, salad dressings, baking
What it’s bad for: Drizzling or low-heat cooking
• Safflower Oil

What it is: Safflower oil has a neutral flavor and the refined kind has a very high smoke point, which makes it great for searing and deep frying. It comes from the seeds of a safflower plant (which is related to the sunflower).
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying, searing, stir-frying, margarine, mayonnaise
What it’s bad for: Drizzling or low-heat cooking
• Coconut Oil

What it is: Coconut oil is having a moment right now — it’s the darling of vegan cooks, who often use it as a replacement for butter in baking. It’s turning up in vegan recipes and products all over the place. Extracted from the meat or kernel of a coconut, the oil has a distinct, sweet flavor — the natural sweetness makes it good for baking sweet treats and also for certain sautéed dishes. It is high in (not-good-for your-heart) saturated fat — specifically a kind called lauric acid, which some consider a healthier fat source.
Smoke point: 350°F
What it’s good for: Baking, frostings, sautéing
What it’s bad for: Deep-frying, dressings
• Sesame Oil

What it is: Sesame oil has a very distinct flavor and is popular in Asian cooking. Light sesame oil has different uses than dark sesame oil.
Smoke point: 410°F
What it’s good for: Light is good for deep-frying and dark sesame oil is better for stir-frying and dipping sauces and used more for the flavor that it gives off.
What it’s bad fort: Baking
• Corn Oil

What it is: Corn oil is made from corn kernels and its high smoke point makes it good for frying. It’s a favorite of fast food chains — almost 70 percent of fast food restaurants make French fries with corn oil. It’s also used to make margarine. The oil is high in saturated fats and low in so-called good fats, which is why it’s often considered one of the unhealthiest oils (GMO content oil).
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying and also margarine
What it’s bad for: Drizzling and low heat cooking
• Soybean Oil

What it is: Soybean oil has a stronger flavor and aroma and is commonly used in processed foods. In 2007, NPR reported that almost 80 percent of oil used for cooking and baking in the U.S. came from soybeans. Because it has a short shelf-life, soybean oil often gets treated with hydrogen gas, which creates trans fats. In 2005 we were consuming 15.5 billion pounds in 2005 and about half of that was partly hydrogenated, the New York Times reports. With the government’s ban on trans fat, that statistic should soon change. In 2012, the use of edible soybean fell to 12.3 billion pounds.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Processed foods, margarine, salad dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling