The tip came from one of the well-known TV chefs, Bobby Flay.
Bobby was on the Rachael Ray Show last Thursday teaching one of Rachael’s viewers, who had written to the show asking for help about how to cook meat without it sticking.
One of the tips Bobby offered was the surefire trick of searing meat, which to my surprise consisted of nothing more than making sure your frying pan and the oil in the pan were hot enough before you put your meat in the pan in the first place.
They were cooking “naked” pork chops (my description of a pork chop without any coating on it), so Bobby said to wait until the olive oil (yes, he used olive oil) was just starting to smoke before you put the meat in the pan.
Well, everyone knows if you get the oil in a pan that hot, you will probably set off the smoke alarm. At least that’s what happens at my house, and my children will be the first to tell you that I’m a pro at setting off the smoke alarm while I’m cooking.
In fact, that’s a standing joke in our family. It was started by my youngest son, Cory, when he was about four years old. He told one of our friends, Larry “Spike” Clark, that if you hear the smoke alarm going off while I was cooking, supper was nearly done.
Well, while Jennifer and I were laughing about how I’m always setting the smoke alarm off while I’m cooking, she remembered an email she had gotten from the American Red Cross that she thought I might be interested in using in my column.
The email was about October being National Fire Prevention month. This year’s focus is about how to prevent kitchen fires.
So I thought I would not only pass along the tip I got from Bobby Flay about how to cook porks chops, chicken or steaks to perfection but also a few tips from the Red Cross about preventing fires in the kitchen.
Here’s the tip for cooking meat to perfection.
1. Place a small amount of olive oil in a skillet (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and place on the stove eye on high.
2. Sprinkle pork chops with a little salt and pepper (I sprinkled mine with a little steak seasoning salt as well) and when the oil just begins to smoke, place the pork chops into the extremely hot skillet.
3. Cook on one side for about two minutes, before turning the pork chops over.
4. Let the pork chops cook for about two minutes, then lift up the edge of each chop and add 1/8 teaspoon of butter under each one.
5. Let them cook for another minute or so, until golden brown, then flip them over again and repeat
6. Finish cooking the chops on the other side until golden brown.
I have no doubt in my mind that I would have set off the smoke alarm had I not disconnected it before I ever started cooking.
But all in all, it would have been worth hearing the blare of the smoke alarm because those pork chops were the best I’ve ever cooked!
And yes, I made sure I reconnected the smoke alarm before I went to bed. I know the American Red Cross says that having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
Here are a few of the preparedness tips the American Red Cross has to offer for preventing cooking fires in the kitchen.
•Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
•If you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
•Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
•Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
•Keep anything that can catch on fire — pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains — away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
•Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
•Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
•Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
And remember smoke alarms save lives!
•Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent cooking fires.