|Starring this brilliant man.|
I didn't care for him.
It's not his fault, really--I was turned off by the speed and energy he brought to the show, which was much more than I had seen in the Japanese original. He was like listening to a South American Futbol announcer.
It all ended when I encountered a link to a clip of Good Eats featuring him making his own ceramic smoker for barbecue out of a couple of ceramic planters (total cost: under $50). Gone was the non-stop, super-high energy I had seen before. This guy was more relaxed, speaking at a pace considered normal by most humans, and had devised an ingenious way to save you some money making great barbecue.
But while that initial clip broke the ice, it wasn't until I made another magical (now, regrettably, lost) discovery: every episode of Good Eats was on Youtube. Oh yes. Every. Single. One. Some enterprising viewer had used up countless space on his DVR and slowly uploaded the episodes to Youtube, somehow evading the various copyright demons out there (unfortunately, it seems that they have finally caught up with them--I can't find any of them on Youtube anymore).
I don't remember what, exactly, prompted me to look, but somehow I came upon "Tender is the Loin (Part 1)", the first episode of a pair to focus on the beef tenderloin. Sitting down at my computer to watch it, I was absolutely transfixed. I had seen countless other television cooks show you how to prepare various cuts of meat, but never before had I laid eyes upon the simple brilliance of Good Eats: he was explaining why it is you do the things you do.
|Yep--just like that.|
And yet, that's what so many television cooks do: Do what I say because I'm telling you. Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Let the oil heat up before adding the meat. Cut the chicken into medallions.
Because I'm telling you to do it that way.
Do you know the three types of proteins that make up connective tissue? They're elastin, collagen, and reticulum. While collagon will break down into (delicious) gelatin given enough time, elastin never, ever will. Not only will it never break down, but it makes up a major proportion of silverskin--that sleek, shiny, vaguely silvery stuff you see on various cuts of meat (especially tenderloin). Since it never, ever breaks down under cooking methods, you need to remove it from cuts of meat, unless you want your guests to be picking long strands of it out of their teeth.
I don't know all of that because I'm a professional cook, or have a degree in chemistry--I know it because Alton Brown took the time to explain it to me on an episode of his show that I watched more than two years ago, and it's far from the only thing I've learned from him.
I was hoping to tell you to do what I did: go to Youtube, type in "Good Eats" and find for yourself a whole new world of understanding of what to do in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it does appear that the copyright demons have finally caught up with them, and many episodes have been removed. However, there do seem to be a fair number of episodes available for free on Hulu.com, and if you're a member of Amazon Prime, you can watch the entire 14 season run for free. I'd also highly recommend any number of his books, not the least of which are the three massive volumes detailing the content of his show.
I really can say that I wouldn't be anywhere near the cook I am today without him. Thanks, AB.