Post #579 Late to the Party

July 8, 2018 at 3:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I know I came late to this party, but I use the broiler for the first time in my life yesterday to make dinner.  What an eye opener!  The meat cooked in about six minutes and was delicious!!  My mom used the broiler all the time.  Unfortunately, she didn’t use it well.  At least, not that I remember.  It seemed like everything was burnt.

The last time I saw a broiler being used, my ex-wife was using it.  It was our third or fourth date and she was making me dinner.  She was very nervous about the whole thing since I had already made her dinner several times.  She baked potatoes, steamed some broccoli, and broiled a couple of steaks.  I don’t recall the kind of steak, but since her favorite is ribeye, it was probably that.  Everything turned out very tasty, but since it was a gas oven and thereby a gas broiler, the steaks had a distinctly gassy chemical overtone to it.

That’s what I remember most about cooking with a broiler.  The food was either overdone and rubbery; it might have significant burning; or it had a chemical taste due to gas heat.  It was finicky, hard to control, and the results were hard to control.  So I never used it.  Until last night.

Broiling is cooking with direct heat, much like on a charcoal grill.  The heat source can come from either the top or the bottom.  Either way, whatever food your cooking needs to be watched closely.  Broilers use radiant heat at extremely high temps.  The line between nicely browned and burned can be seconds apart.

Nearly anything can be broiled.  Except pasta.  The natural fats and oils in meats allow the broiling process to tenderize and flavor the meat in the same way grilling does.  Veggies need to be lightly coated with oil to do the same thing and to keep from sticking.   Because of the fats that render, and the oils on veggies, the broiling pan must allow them to drip away from the food to keep it from stewing.  The usual broiler pan looks like this:

Note the slots.  This is the broiler pan I grew up with.  I remember mom making barbecue ribs on this thing.  I also remember trying to get the damn thing clean after that and not being able to shift the burnt on sauce.  It took flipping hours!  Once I took over cooking, I never used the broiler or that pan ever again.  And every time I made barbecued ribs, I lined whatever pan I used with foil, in double layers.  Now, there are broiler pans, broiler baskets, independent electric broiler machines, etc.

Here’s a helpful chart I found that I’ll be making use of:

Note the cooking times.  Pretty quick stuff.

Broilers way back in the day were located in the bottom of the oven and used a pull out drawer with small slots to adjust closeness to the heat.  These days, most broilers are in the oven itself, located at the top.  This allows the oven rack slots to control the closeness to the heat.  More flexibility and better cooking results.

So, yesterday we wanted to make a pasta dish.  We had a jar of high quality pesto that we had intended for something a few weeks ago but didn’t use.  So pasta al pesto was definitely on the menu.  We had been at the store and picked up some lemons, and some fresh parmesan, and some pine nuts, among other items.  I wanted some nicely grilled pork pieces so go with the pasta.  So I decided to try the broiler.  I cut the pork loin cutlets into bite sized pieces and squeezed lemon juice over them.  After an hour, I spread it out on baking sheet (lined with foil) and sprinkled onion powder over the lot.  I set the rack at the highest position, and broiled the meat for five minutes.  I pulled it out and drained the rendered fat, shook things around, and broiled for another four minutes.  By then, the meat was perfectly browned and done tender.  I pulled the meat off the sheet in one swoop with the foil and left it to cool.  I tried one piece and it was so good!

Partner/Spouse heated the oven to make garlic toast and set a pan of water to boiling.  When it was ready, he boiled up some long twisted pasta, kind of like thick spaghetti twisted like a corkscrew.  When that was done, he used tongs to pull it out of the water into a large skillet and dumped the pesto sauce over it all.  He squeezed fresh lemon juice over all and some toasted pine nuts.  Once everything was thoroughly incorporated, he mixed in the broiled pork and covered everything with shaved parmesan.

Wish I’d taken a picture.  It was so good I was licking my plate.

The main thrust of all this is as a tool, technique, or method for quick mid-week meals, I’m seeing a ton of opportunity with this.  As I start using it more and learning and finessing it, I’ll be blogging about it so you can learn right along with me.

By the way, I made chocolate chip macadamia cookies today, and last Wednesday, I made banana bread with walnuts and pecans and mini chocolate chips.  That last one went into work the next day after we’d had some and was pronounced a big success.  One lady even said, “Bananas and chocolate chips!  Who knew?  I’m making it that way from now on!”

I knew.

 

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2 Comments »

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  1. I have used the broiler for years. Used properly, it’s wonderful.

  2. The broiler pan can be lined with foil too of course. I’ve been using the gas oven broiler for over 40 years. It never has a gassy/chemical taste. Maybe something wasn’t right with the one you were using.


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