I thought I was making progress with my (very mild) CDO (obsessive compulsive disorder, but with the letters in the correct order).
I was making burgers and when I finished fashioning the patties, they were a little bit irregular. Normally, I would fastidiously ensure they were all exactly the same size, perfectly round and of an even thickness from the centre to the very edges. That night, though, I thought, screw it, they’re good enough.
It was short-lived. As I was heating up the pan, I couldn’t help myself and by the time they hit the pan, they were perfect.
I’m the same way at restaurants. When my kids were growing up, whenever we ordered burgers or sandwiches, I would take them apart and put them back together so that the meat is properly centred in the bread and the garnishes are evenly distributed.
My younger son, Patrick (P@) used to relentlessly tease me about it, but I would have my comeuppance. A few years ago, when I was living in Saskatoon, P@ came out for a job there. We went out for lunch. It had been a couple of years since I had seen him and when the sandwiches came, he promptly took his apart and put it back together.
I was so proud of him, but couldn’t resist needling him about it. He responded much the way I always had. I like my sandwiches the way I like them.
Anyway, I had gotten the hankering for a burger when I saw a Facebook post about burger-cooking “hacks” to ensure a juicy, tasty experience.
This is a pet peeve. Hack may now be the most overused term in modern media. It was originally coined to describe some kind of creative and innovative way of solving a problem using items that were never intended to be used that way.
In this post I saw, the vast majority of the “hacks” were just standard cooking techniques, such as using room temperature ground beef and not squishing the juices out with your spatula.
The ones that were even a touch on the hacky side, such as placing an ice cube on top of the patty while cooking, hardly rose to the level of creativity and innovation that would constitute a hack.
In any event, I don’t need any hacks to cook a burger properly. Let’s face it, if your burger—or any meat you are cooking—is dry, you are simply overcooking it.
I have always been very finicky about not overcooking meat (and especially fish), with one exception, pork.
And then I met Sascha Hillebrand.
It was way back in the day. I was dining at the Hudson Bay Lodge where Sascha was the chef. I ordered the pork tenderloin and the waiter asked me how I wanted it.
I thought it was a stupid question because, like most people who grew up with parents born prior to the Second World War, my inherent wisdom told me pork needed to be well done.
Sascha actually came out of the kitchen to educate me. I thought it was pretty cheeky, I mean, the customer is always right, right?
Wrong. Apparently there is only one correct temperature for tenderloin and I have been enjoying it medium-rare ever since (no hacks required).
I know there’s a moral to this story somewhere. At least I thought there was when I started.
Perhaps it is just that we’re all a little bit quirky and it’s probably best to just embrace it.