I like to think I’m an open minded guy, I can reluctantly admit when I’m wrong. What am I wrong about? Grill marks. For years I have prided myself on getting perfect grill marks on my steaks, chicken and chops. Sure, it makes for a great picture but it does not maximize flavor. That space in between the grill marks is just wasted flavor space. But from this day forward I am no longer wasting that space. I’m going to brown the entire cut of meat when grilling and get the maximum flavor from it!
Why does browned meat tasted so good? I don’t really know, my degree is in economics not chemistry, but to do with what is called Maillard Effect. The Maillard Effect is the reactions of amino acids and sugars in foods that browns the surface. You can Google it for yourself, but basically it’s what makes meat taste delicious. The bark from pork butt is a perfect example of the Maillard Effect. But there is a fine line between Maillard and char, a dark mahogany brown is good, black is bad.
Once of the Best of 2013, The Fried Burger
My eat-piphany occurred when I was thinking about one of the best things I made this year, the fried burger. Although it was fried and not smoked, it was the tastiest meals I made all year, I’m still thinking about it. Why was is so tasty? I attribute it to the the browned patties. I have made grilled burger with all the same ingredients that weren’t as good. So it had to be the Maillard that made it so good! This year Freddy’s Steakburger opened up here in ABQ. Their burgers has a very this patties that has a crispy meat skirt around the edge the is absolutely delicious. Freddy’s has become one of my favorite burger joints and proof that browned burgers are better.
The Freddy’s Burger,
My next favorite dish of the year was a pork chop. Now, I have a lot of pork chops over the years, but this one was the best one I’ve cooked yet. I used a recipe from Adam Perry Lang’s book Serious Barbecue, Pork Chops with Jalapeño Garlic Dressing. These pork chops were great because I didn’t just throw them on the grill for 4-6 minutes on each side, I had to work the meat and keep it moving. I flipped the chops every 2 minutes while basting them with herb butter, the constant basting and flipping built a thick rich crust of flavor all around all the way around the pork chop. These pork chops were just freaking amazing and the nail in the grill mark’s coffin.
This year I’m going to making some changes to my grilling techniques. My pursuit of perfect grill marks is over and the quest for maximum flavor begins. My knee is almost healed up enough for me to start cooking again and I can’t wait to get started. 2014 is going to be epic!!