Ask the Food Dude

Q: Dude, why do so many recipes tell you to let roast food — chicken, beef, turkey, pork, buffalo, kangaroo, emu, muskrat, rabbit, ’possum, raccoon, red-assed monkey — rest on the counter for 10 minutes, even a half hour after cooking? I don’t have time for that.

A: Make time. It’s an essential step — unless you want your monkey to be bone-dry and tasteless. When you roast meat, it becomes pressurized as it gets hotter. The natural juices are forced outward, toward the surface, and will spurt out all over the cutting board if your start carving away at the meat right out of the oven. Giving it a rest allows the inner pressure to drop, the juices are redistributed into the meat, and you end up with one juicy, tasty ’possum.


Q: Dude, I spent $200 for a fancy-schmancy German chef’s knife. It’s sharp as a leather-stropped razor, nice and heavy, fits my hand great. But the reason I paid extra was for these dents in both sides of the blade that are supposed to stop food from sticking. They don’t. So what’s the best way to cut the cheese?

A: Those dents, or scallops, make it a "granton edge" knife. The "edge" part is a misnomer because they’re on the sides of the blade, as you pointed out. Their purpose is to break the suction — much like the blood-grooves on a bayonet — on the blade when cutting through wet or sticky foods. My experience with them is generally and simply that they’re not much help. Just be glad you have a sharp, high-quality knife, the most important kitchen tool after your hands. Meantime, nothing cuts soft to medium-hard cheese better than that old-fashioned stretched-wire cutter. Here’s a bonus tip: Next time you have to cut layers for a cake, use dental floss stretched between your fingers. And it does just as good a job slicing the finished cake.

Spit or swallow?

Sometimes people voluntarily eat the type of stuff choked down by the nitwits on Fear Factor for the simple reason that it’s there, it’s technically edible, and they’re hungry. That’s why the Norse, one of many cultures that consider mammal eyes as food (“Here’s lookin’ at you, Solveig”), have plucked the peepers from sheep since an ancient shepherd decided he didn’t want Fluffy to see what he was doing (that part might be made up). They feast on smoked sheep head, and clean it right down to the skull because wasting any part of an animal was considered nearly criminal, given the paucity of provender in Norway’s remoter areas. It’s impossible to believe that anyone would eat lye-soaked dried fish, lutefisk, if anything else was handy. Since necessity is a mother, you can actually acquire a taste for springy, spongy, gelatinous eyes, which one old Viking said — when properly cooked and the iris is discarded — “just melts on the tongue.” By the way, they eat that too.

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