Bits and Bobs: how to test the seasoning of raw ground meat

by Angela Perez

Bits and Bobs of the Day: Before you cook your raw meat mixture, just toss a bit into a hot pan and cook it up for a sample bite. Adjust seasoning to the raw mixture as needed.

The Chef Show – Netflix

I just got a great tip from Chef Roy Choi while he was making his “$4 Spaghetti” dish on The Chef Show. This episode of the Netflix docuseries takes you into kitchen with Choi and his buddy Jon Favreaux to cook up Choi’s less-expensive version of the $24 spaghetti from Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in NYC. (Since the show’s airing back in Sept. 2020, Scarpetta’s spaghetti is now $34. I imagine food costs have gone up for Choi as well, so, maybe it’s now “$6.37 spaghetti.”)
Per his usual no-nonsense, calm presentation style, Choi offers up endless helpful anecdotes and tips during the cooking process, tips that are helpful to us lay folks at home. There was one tip during the spaghetti episode that made me smack my head and mutter, “I’ll be danged. Why didn’t I think of that?”
While Favreaux is mixing up the raw hamburger meat (fat content 70/30) with chopped parsley and seasonings, Choi tells him that it’s important to make sure the meat is properly seasoned BEFORE you cook it. Favreaux hits on something that we’ve all struggled with, how to sample it to make sure it’s properly seasoned prior to cooking? Choi notes that you absolutely should taste test before cooking and pulls off a small hunk of raw meat and lays it into a sizzling hot pan: “Yeah, any meat mixture, always do a sample. Always taste it.” He cooks up the little patty and samples it – yep, it needs more salt and pepper.

I re-watched this little moment several times over, marveling to myself, WHY DID I NEVER THINK OF THIS? I am forever under-seasoning ground meat recipes because I don’t want to sample it raw. And, that, my friends, is the Bits and Bobs of the Day.

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