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Old 09-14-2007, 06:32 PM   #11
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Oops, Andy, maybe the ribeye recipe wasn't the one. The one I followed, which I believe is one of the very first in the book, just had you heat the cast iron skillet on the stovetop, not in the oven. I don't remember what cut of beef was used, but it was definitely a cheaper cut. Sorry about that.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:40 PM   #12
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Cookwise by Shirley Corriher is exactly what you describe.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by k_young221 View Post
Oops, Andy, maybe the ribeye recipe wasn't the one. The one I followed, which I believe is one of the very first in the book, just had you heat the cast iron skillet on the stovetop, not in the oven. I don't remember what cut of beef was used, but it was definitely a cheaper cut. Sorry about that.

I just looked it up. It's a recipe for skirt steak. What did you not like about it?
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:48 PM   #14
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Cookwise by Shirley Corriher is exactly what you describe.

An excellent book!
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:50 PM   #15
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I just looked it up. It's a recipe for skirt steak. What did you not like about it?

I'd marinate skirt steak but you should never cook it on low heat unless you are braising it. Generally you cook it fast and hot on a grill or in a cast iron skillet to med rare and then slice it on the bias.

BTW, "I'm Just Here for the Food" is an excellent cookbook, IMO.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:52 PM   #16
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The first recipe in his book was for skirt steak, which should be cooked very quickly at very high heat to rare.

What was it about your attempt that you did not like?

What you are trying to learn is very hard to get from a book. It will come with practice more than anything else. The more you cook and try different things the more you will learn how to improvise.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but improvisation takes practice. My favorite band improvises their music a lot. They used to do improv exercises for many hours each day. My wife just did not get that concept. She thought that improv was just making it up as you go along. While that is true, there are still rules that you must adhere to in order for it to work. The same goes for cooking.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:52 PM   #17
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Andy: Yes, that's the recipe to which I was referring. Did I mess up because it's a bad recipe, or because I'm a bad cook? lol

I'll take a look at How to Cook Everything. Basically, I want to be able to take a look at the ingredients I have on hand and "whip something up." Maybe that's a lofty goal for a beginning cook, but my family and I are all picky eaters, so I'm constantly having to alter recipes anyway.
Forget Alton Brown's books and with improv of any type, you need to learn the pure basics of technique before you should even think about cooking on the fly. How to properly saute, poach, blanch, roast, pan fry, etc. In all honesty, "Cooking for Dummies" is one of the better books out there because of it's ease in the way the information is presented. Just ignore the chapter on equipment (at least in the beginning) and the rest of the book is great for someone who doesn't have a lot of cooking skill.
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Old 09-14-2007, 07:02 PM   #18
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The recipe was for a skirt steak. I followed the directions but the steak was VERY rare. I wanted to get it to maybe a medium or medium rare, but it took a lot longer than the recipe stated. And then the steak was tough and stringy. A question: If less-expensive cuts should be cooked slower than more expensive, then why should my $4 steak cooked on high heat? (Sorry, I'm sure it's obvious, but I know right around nothing about steak. I don't even like steak.) =)

I will check out the books everyone has suggested. I know that the whole improv thing will come with practice. I need to learn not only cooking techniques, but also culinary "fashion rules" or whatever you call them. Like, what foods pair well together and what spices go with what and what cuts of beef are suited to what types of cooking, and on and on. "Cooking for Dummies" sounds especially appropriate for my case. ;-)
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Old 09-14-2007, 07:08 PM   #19
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It can be confusing. Skirt steak is the standard cut of meat for fajitas. It's cooked hot and fast for that dish as well.

If your meat needed a little more time in the pan to get the right doneness, that's a minor thing and not something to blame the cookbook for. Did you preheat for the full time on high heat? Did you cook the meat on high heat? Perhaps your stove burner isn't as powerful as some can be.

As to the toughness, this can be avoided by carving across the grain rather than with the grain. Cutting across the grain severs the tough miscle fibers, making it easier to chew.
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Old 09-14-2007, 07:16 PM   #20
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I am with IC on this one. You have to learn the basics.

To me watching cooking shows was not only very educational but the price was right.

Start off with basic recipes.

As far as learning about meats goes, think Merle Ellis' 'Cutting Up in the Kitchen' is still one of the best primers on meat. You can pick a used one up on the web at one of the used book outlets, or perhaps through Amazon, for a couple of bucks.
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