On Kitchen Hacks and the Joy of Cooking

From the “we couldn’t have said it better ourselves” department, Cracked.com has broken down “8 Stupid Kitchen Hacks…” and it’s one of the more awesome things you’ll see ever on the internet. NSFW, and here’s a link to the post: 8 Stupid Kitchen Hacks Tested for Usefulness. But it got us thinking about a more austere, diplomatic discussion of this pressing issue. Thus, we present: On Kitchen Hacks and the Joy of Cooking.

Hack-free Barbecue

First, the Cracked post. The upshot and/or if you’re a family audience (like ours is), 7 of the 8 “hacks” aren’t time-savers and/or didn’t work. And/or they’re stupid, which, again, Cracked says much more eloquently than we shall. The only one worth a darn, at least according to the article, is this one.

We wholeheartedly agree: that is one awesome kitchen hack. 3-million-plus views on YouTube can’t be wrong. (Or…can they?)

Does EVERYTHING need to be a “Hack?”

Webster’s Dictionary defines “Hack” as “to cough up part of one’s lung.” I made that up, it didn’t actually define it as such, but methinks thou dost hack too much.

For instance, I share the above photo of barbecue because my youngest and I concocted our own barbecue sauce. Or was it a barbecue sauce hack? We took regular old barbecue sauce and doctored it. A little of this, a little of that. Actually…

Doctored Barbecue Sauce

Truth be told, it was quite awesome. A cup of each of the bottled sauce, (yellow) mustard, dijon, and brown sugar; two tablespoons each of hot sauce, vinegar, and honey.

The doctored sauce went on top of ribs, which were also quite awesome. They had to be par boiled first, then roasted in the oven. Sauce went on when they went in the oven. Ribs were devoured.

No hacking was involved. Doctoring, maybe, but not hacking.

On Kitchen Hacks and the Joy of Cooking

Love spending time in the kitchen? Check. Don’t mind putting in a little extra effort to make something awesome? Check.

But what if stuff has a tendency to go bad: like the potatoes sprouting eyes, or the onions (or garlic) sitting on the counter growing new sprouts of onion (or garlic)? What if I’d rather use garlic out of the jar? Does that make me a bad chef?

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Really…it’s enough to really get super-confused. Am I supposed to save time, am I supposed to do it because it looks cool, am I supposed to hack my way into kitchen awesomeness?

Don’t Confuse “Hack” with “Technique”

If you saw our post on Sous Vide and Blow Torches, you probably know where we stand here: we’re all about technique. That doesn’t mean we can’t actually do a hack – after all, making your own Sous Vide “machine” out of a pot of water, a thermometer, and a Ziploc bag is technically a hack. Right? Then so is the blow torch at the end. Then…

When “slow food” became a thing a dozen or so years ago, the argument sorta got boiled down to “it’s the journey, not the destination.” So, sure, peel the garlic by shaking it vigorously between two bowls. You’re now steps closer to roasting that garlic and spreading it on toasted artisan loaves and serving with your Sous Vide Duck.

Our point – trust us, we have one – is this: maybe you don’t need to try to hack your way through everything. It’s valuable to save time in the kitchen, and it’s great to experiment, but at what cost? Just like the point of the Cracked article – maybe the point of the sandwich is that there are imperfections, where meat doesn’t meet bread, and you’re not a five-year-old.

Plus, there appear to be about a thousand ways to boil an egg.

Enjoy the ride, people.

Sous Vide + Blow Torch

We’re the new kid on the block in the food blogging portal universe. So, of course, our post on steaks showcased our naivete.


sous vide blowtorch

Thanks, Sansaire.

That “7 Ways to Cook Steak” post. From the other day. Our…what…fifth day of existence? That’s the one that got people questioning us, and got us looking around for sous vide videos. Especially ones with a blow torch. (Or “blowtorch” if you prefer the one-word version.) So here we are: Sous Vide + Blow Torch.

BTW, if you are employed in either the sous vide or blow torch industries, give us a ring. We’d like to try out your products. Seriously. Call me.

Anyway…while we wait for those to come in the mail (ahem), why not share a video? Or two?

First up, while long-ish at ten minutes and change, this video from YouTuber “CTP” might change the way you think about cooking steak.

Sous Vide + Blow Torch

But…but…wait…vacuum-sealed meat thrown into a water bath? Sounds so…weird.

He’s got the main science down here – aside from a couple questions in the YouTube comments about whether or not to use the wood cutting board, and whether pepper is flammable – the French phrase “sous-vide” actually means “under vacuum.” It’s “low and slow,” like you hear the barbecue people describe their method of cooking, but even lower: meat is cooked at 131-140 degrees, and the goal is to have the temperature of the meat equal to that of the water bath.

Obligatory Wikipedia Link Here: Sous Vide.

Sous Vide Equipment

The leader so far…at least the one that pops up highest on Google when we searched…is this bad boy from Anova Culinary. At $179 it’s more affordable than some of the other options – even with your Bed Bath & Beyond coupon that seems to show up in the mail every day.

Here’s a screengrab from their website; this looks like a serious machine.

Sous Vide Machine

Thanks, Anova Culinary.

Serious must be the operative word; the website “Serious Eats” gives this machine props.

But…do you really need a machine? Or can you whip up something without having one of these machine thingies?

Sous Vide Duck Breast – with no machine!

Food Wishes delivers the goods here…this insanely easy kitchen hack uses just a Ziploc bag, an accurate thermometer, a big stock pot, and a silicone mat. Then he crisps the duck in a frying pan. And I’m hungry.

Blow Torch?

I’m a guy, so I think that is a rhetorical question. You could skip to the end of the first video to watch the blow torch in action, or you could avoid the blow torch like the duck video above (a high heat sear at the end is gonna give you the crusty, charred flavor you want).

Or you can watch all 45 seconds of this video, where the blow torch takes center stage.


And, if you’re reading this and want to get me a Sous Vide machine to try out… it’s dave [at] metakitchen [dot] co.

7 Ways to Cook Steak

Ah, the listicle! The bane of the everyman’s existence – but a necessity with any new blog.

7 ways steakWe are not alone here at Metakitchen Headquarters: we love listicles. (Why are they called that, anyway? Who knows.) So as we were researching some videos – which you can see here on the site under, um, Videos – we discovered that there are several ways to cook steak. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Or, at least…seven. That’s why we call this post 7 Ways to Cook Steak.

Take a look – you’re sure to find a method you didn’t know of, or learn something new about one of your favorite cuts.

1. Simple, Pan-Seared Steak

Chow.com shows us how here. 3-minute video.

2. Steak au Poivre

Watch this video from Laura Vitale:

3. 32-ounce Cowboy Steak

4. New York Strip Steak – on a Big Green Egg

You have to have a “Big Green Egg” – or a Costco knock-off – because there’s a 600-degree heat need here.

5. Gordon Ramsay Cooks Steak at Home

This video is from Food World Malaysia. Gordon adds butter. And uses an oil we have never heard of…”groundnut oil.” (That’s what the Brits call “peanut oil.”)

6. Filet. Kobe Filet.

Mark Spelman, a chef in El Paso, has his own seasoning for this Kobe beef. (Which is expensive, mind you.) Shallots! Butter! Cognac! FLAMES!!!

7. Start in Oven, Finish with Sear.

These guys do it backwards. But…oh, my!

There have to be more videos, but we don’t have all night, so let’s start with seven. (Maybe the next one will be called “8 Ways to Cook Steak.”)

Will It Goo?

Metakitchen LogoSomething tells us this sort of thing could catch on. Will It Goo? Great question. Take something, boil it down, and see if it turns into goo. (Or another substance. Lava? Something crunchy? The possibilities are semi-endless.)

Longtime friend Gary Unger shared this video and asked: “Is this the kind of thing that will work for Metakitchen?”

Short answer: YES.

Here’s the video, called “Will It Goo?”

BTW, if you have a video to share, or a kitchen hack you think would be dynamite for us to put on the site, let us know! Email hack [at] metakitchen [dot] co. (Note that it’s a dot-co; we use the “m” for “yumm.”)