Monday, July 14, 2008

Meals I've Massacred...A Meme.

Based on yesterday's post which ultimately did not include photos ot dinner, Jeri suggested we meme about it. (I still don't know exactly what meme means, so please excuse me if using it as a verb gives you agita.)

Last night's dinner was meant to be simple and delicious...grilled lamb shanks and rice. The rice was good. The lamb shanks...not so much. Here, look at them. They look delicious!

My conclusion, however, after trying to eat this meal is that grilling and lamb shanks might not go together. They were tough like you wouldn't believe. I'm not talking shoe-leather tough. I'm talking old-fashioned telephone made of bakelite tough. Inpenetrable by the human tooth tough.

These lamb shanks are what take "not good" from merely a slightly negative descriptor to being a defining moment for, "what is not good?"... these are!

In the end, we made do with Ice Cream. I think I'll stick to braising when it comes to lamb shanks.


Random Michelle K said...

Meat tenderness comes from the unwinding of proteins. This is affected by marinade, and also by the speed at which you cook the meat.

My guess is that any cut of meat that needs to be cooked all the way through would not be a good candidate for high heat grilling.

I'd check Cookwise to verify, but my copy is at home.

John the Scientist said...

I'm impressed that you know what bakelite is. I thought only us Chemical Historians and geezers over 70 knew the name.

Nathan said...

GF collects stuff. Bakelite is part of the jargon.

(Although I'm pretty sure I knew what it was before we met.)

Eric said...

Meme is a concept that was originally proposed (IIRC by Richard Dawkins) as the cultural equivalent of a gene: i.e. an idea that is passed from generation to generation, carrying part of the information that defines the culture.

At some point, the internet adopted the word to describe any silly notion or idea that gets bounced around. So "meme" became a meme of internet culture.

So if everyone starts passing around the idea of posting kitchen disasters, you will have started a meme. If nobody picks up the idea... if nobody picks up the idea... well, we UCFers still like you. :-)

Anne C. said...

The only way you'd really be able to get lamb shanks to become tender on the grill would be to treat 'em like ribs and grill them slow and for a long time.

John the Scientist said...

Heeeey Nathan!

I've got just the restaurant for us to try the next time we have lunch: this one!

Scoll down the menu until oyu come to # 163, 168 and 169.

As an added bonus for you, it's in Queens!

Tania said...

Eek! My friend Chirk won't touch that stuff, but he says his mom loves it.

Oddly enough, reading about chinese tripe soup makes me want to whip up a batch of pozole. Because I like pozole, but not menudo.

Nathan said...

John, Please don't make me hurt you.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago, eldest son - the one that would argue with a brick wall while running into it - asked me,

"If the instructions say to cook this pizza for 18 minutes at 425, couldn't I cook it for 5 minutes at 600?"

I hope his first apartment has really good smoke detectors. And he has rental insurance.

Random Michelle K said...

Jeri, does your oven even have a setting for 600?!

Random Michelle K said...

Here's the pertinent passage from Shirley O'Corriher's "Cookwise" (highly recommended BTW)

"Take beef muscles as an example, as the proteins in the muscles unwind (denature) and join together (cook), they shrink, becoming drier and tougher just as any proteins do. Up to 120 F, these bundles of protein strands shrink in diameter only, not in length and a minimum of amount of moisture is lost. As the temperature of the muscle increases above 120F, lengthwise shrinkage and greater water loss begin.

So it should not be a surprise that careful control of heat is the secret of many perfectly cooked, tender, juicy pieces of meat, fish, or fowl.Even seafood can become dry and tough when over cooked."

A couple of pages later there's an interesting section on rigor mortis and how it affects the tenderness of meat.

Then there is another interesting section on marinades and how deeply the acids that denature the proteins penetrate into the slice of meat.

Random Michelle K said...

I love science!

Nathan said...


Is there a problem with your son's theory? I don't see it.

And Michelle,

I cook with a manly man. I'll not involve the periodic table, thank you very much.

Nathan said...

And I might take Jeri's son's theory and expand it to encompass Anne's advice. Does three days at 90 degrees sound about right?

Anonymous said...

No 600 setting, thank goodness. But there is an "oven clean" setting, which would probably accomplish roughly the same thing with no finely tuned control over timing.

Nathan, is that nearly the same thing as cooking with fire?

Nathan said...

My mom cooked fish in the dishwasher. I may have to try cooking on the clean cycle.

Hey, You never know.

Random Michelle K said...


That was biology, not chemistry.

Well, okay, it's biochemistry, but still.