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Food Styled Meat: Does It Taste As Good As It Looks?

Food Styled Meat: Does It Taste As Good As It Looks?

Calves liver and shallots (photo by K.K.)

Kim Kissling | Chef's Blade

As for making something look grilled, I have found that using a very hot grill pan will give the most authentic looking steak. A charcoal grill or gas grill can give you the same look however, you will have a lot more control over the browning and markings made with a grill plan. An electric charcoal starter coil can be used to make grill marks as well, but again, a good grill pan will give you the best results.

The obvious way to test the doneness of meat is to use an instant-read thermometer. However, the more you stick the thermometer in the meat the more holes you create. And if the meat is being cut into you will see those holes. If using an instant-read thermometer be sure to check the temperature in a part of the meat that you will not be cutting into. It is best to play with the different temperatures to get the desired doneness. This is where the “feel of the meat” comes into play. Knowing what a medium-rare piece of meat feels like will keep you from using the instant read thermometer too often.

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Crusted Lamb Chop (photo K.K.)

Then there is the issue of oxidation. Yes, fruit oxidizes upon contact with air turning it brown. Meat has the same effect when exposed to air, although it doesn’t turn brown but a very unpalatable gray color. In order to avoid this inevitable outcome it is best to cook the meat to the desired doneness and let it sit until it comes completely to room temperature. Warm meat will oxidize much quicker. Also, if the meat stands at room temperature long enough the blood will redistribute throughout the meat and will look more evenly cooked when cut into.

You can use a product called “Kitchen Bouquet” to make the outside of a steak look a bit more brown and appealing. This is an old product that your grandmother probably used to make gravy. As cooks, we wouldn’t think of using this product today to make a gravy or sauce but when mixed with water and brushed lightly on the outside of meat it will create a juicy, just cooked appearance.

One last note, always keep the extra juice from cooking meat. The juice can be brushed on the outside of the steak much like Kitchen Bouquet but it can also be spooned around the outside of the meat to make it look juicy.

Those are just a few tricks of the trade to make shooting meat a bit easier.

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