Monday, July 28, 2014

Returning Restaurant Food When Things Go Wrong!

I have spent many years in restaurant kitchens and I would tell you that if your order comes to the table and its incorrect I would do one of four things:
  1. Eat it as is
  2. Refuse to pay for it. 
  3. Ask the plate to be redone properly as you asked for it, with new ingredients. (like if your steak was not cooked enough, do not accept the same steak back again after it was cooked longer, get a new steak cooked properly with new side items to go with it! -anything that's on the same plate-
  4. Refuse it and pick something else off the menu.
The reasoning behind this is if your food goes back to the kitchen to be 'fixed' several things immediately increase exponentially:
  • First and foremost if you do not eat it "as is" you will now be delayed in eating with the rest of your party, if that's not a problem, then continue on.
  • The chance your food will be microwaved if its not cooked well.(not a problem? Continue...)
  • When your food goes back into the kitchen how many people touch that plate? How many people are hovered over your food in the back? Was it handled incorrectly? What if someone coughed or sneezed over it? Does it get reheated or re-plated on or next to something you have an allergy to? Cross contamination from something passing over it? 
  • Kitchen staff 'messing' with your food because you sent it back during a busy time thus slowing everybody down and making people mad. At this point whether you were right, and/or picky doesn't matter to the kitchen and wait staff. And you can't see behind those doors can you? (although with the increased awareness, restaurant guidelines, and lawsuits...this may be a very minuscule possibility)
The chance of these things happening to your food multiply each time it goes back. If the restaurant your eating at is "upscale", fancy, or "high end" enough, they would never take that plate back to fix it, and give it to you again. They would remake it from "scratch". They would only take it back to get it out of your way. Some corporate and franchise restaurants have guidelines about food returning so there's a chance your replacement would be made from "scratch". If in doubt, ask!

Of course there are some people who are going to abuse this to "scam" free food, or an extra plate...but not if the restaurant standard is to remove the "wrong" plate at the arrival of the "right" plate.

Your safest bet for delicious hot food that has been handled minimally and correctly was the first time it came out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Parents Date Night - Restaurant Tips

As parents we want a nice quiet date night at the restaurant, child free! And yes, that does mean free from others kids as well. So the number one tip would be to sit away from families! BUT if by chance I can not arrange seating that is away from a rambunctious family of loud, crazy kids...then YES I will show grace and maybe even entertain them with a few funny faces or high fives if the situation calls for it. As a parent I understand kids are not programmable robots and pick the worst times to have the worst behavior and sometimes spiral to a meltdown because of exhaustion!

That being said, here are a few good tips I thought I would share that my wife and I practice:
  • Leave the house early if possible. Between 4 and 5pm. If you have small kids then you are used to eating early anyways. 
    • This allows you to be going the opposite way of work traffic, easy flow.
    • There is usually not a waiting list at the restaurant already.
    • You have the pick of seats before it gets busy.
  • Make things easy on yourself and plan to use valet parking if available. A lot of malls or restaurant/shopping areas now have free valet. Just remember to put a good tip in the valets hand(when picking up the vehicle). Yes, budget it into your "going out'" or entertainment money. Do I do this a lot? No, but if its available and it makes life easier for one glorious night out...yes, do it!
  • No matter what kind of seating you like remember tables next to serving/wait stations, the bathrooms, kitchen service doors, front/lobby door, and at the end of the bar are terrible choices. Most of these tables will have heavy traffic, drafts, smells, noise...et cetera.
  • If you do eat later, or if the restaurant is already busy, REMEMBER most tables and booths that are around the bar area, but are separated from the rest of the restaurants tables/booths are almost ALWAYS first come first serve. Those are NOT the "seating" people are on the waiting list for...My wife and I usually walk right in and find a nice booth I like that is empty and slide right into it. Server usually shows up in minutes.
  • As a last or first resort, (depends on your feelings of being seen sitting at a bar by your local church denomination) you can sit at the bar and eat dinner. Its only the two of you and you can sit and talk even closer than you could at a table or booth. Not to mention you can usually get your food faster and you always have someone within ten feet to service your every request.
These are just a few helpful suggestions that come to mind...What tips do you have that you can add to this list?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 4th, A Napa Valley Birthday!

[This is a "Throwback" or "Back in tha day..." post. One of many originals that were lost. Back in 2009 my wife planned one of my most memorable fourth of July birthdays of all time! We were currently living in The Bay Area, California and we spent much of our time exploring the 'culinary scene', beaches & ocean, and enjoyed the riches of Farmers Markets in a state that can darn near grow everything!]

5 Years Ago:
My wife knowing she would be out of town, and I would be working on my birthday (July 4th!) planned a trip to Napa for later in the month.  So last Tuesday we headed out for a few days in Napa Valley.

What's in Napa?  Wine, wineries, vineyards, restaurants...all kinds of culinary delights!

Tuesday morning after a mere 2 hours of driving we arrived in Yountville, home of many Restaurants more notably Thomas Keller's French Laundry.  Then we could also talk about Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery...But we also wanted to visit Michael Chiarello's Bottega!  Not to mention the yummy deli sandwiches at the Oakville Grocery Co...Ok, so as not to drag this out here is how it went in a nutshell:

Breakfast at Lou's Cafe a favorite local place (Tuesday morning) then on to Napa Valley.  Stop at Yountville and get macaroons, brioche, eclairs, and coffee at the Bouchon Bakery.  Next we headed to our appointed wine tour at the Robert Mondavi Winery (Excellent! I read the book The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty) which helped form pictures, places, and the 'feel' of the book I read about the Mondavi's...it was like a sense of coming full circle - completing a study, if you will -  for me after reading the book and drinking the wines then being able to get an inside look at the winery and history.

On the way back to Napa City we stopped by the Oakville Grocery for a little lunch outside at their tables with sandwiches from the deli.



Later Steph and I checked into the The Inn on First (Bringing a touch of San Francisco to Napa Valley its a luxury Bed & Breakfast) you will just have to trust me on this one, or check the link, it was worth it!  Excellent!  Jacuzzi/Hot Tubs in the rooms...complimentary champagne and chocolate truffles, all the services you could think of and the Chef, Jim, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy (Le Cordon Bleu) who cooks you a signature breakfast every morning (included in your stay).  Mercedes, Morgon, Jim (Jamie was on holiday) all graceous hosts!  This was in Napa the city, not Yountville. All of it is considered in Napa Valley.

Then we went for a little walk around town and ate and excellent meal at Allegria.  We didn't even order a real meal, just ate multiple choices from the appetizer menu! We once again headed out for a little walk and stopped at Cole's Chop House for a dessert.  A Banana's Foster which some may consider a classic...it came to the table FLAMING.  It was an impressive display even though that's what I was expecting.  That was for Steph, I enjoyed a warm chocolate brownie paired with a caramel gelato and chocolate sauce.

The next day we had a breakfast quesadilla that was sent out by the chef, and of course there was all the cold breakfast things like cereals, oats, granola, fresh fruits...Then we headed of to the other side St Helena where stopped in to tromp around the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone after asking, wandering, and looking at everything they would let us see (I believe classes were in session) we headed out to the side of the establishment to visit the school store/shop.  Some of the stuff was unique to the CIA but a lot of it was like being in a Williams-Sonoma, not really anything I wanted to buy that I didn't already have or see a need for.  But it was all interesting just the same.

On the way back thru we stopped at Dean & Deluca's for 'lunch stuff'.  Then we went to the Yountville Park to have a picnic where we got run off by bees and the French Laundry Company Picnic (they had the whole place reserved)...but my interest was in who was catering THEIR company party?

Going to the French Laundry unfortunately was out of our budget range and we didn't have a reservation.  Looks like they were doing some heavy maintenance or construction to the back of it when we came thru, not sure.  We also tried to eat at Ad Hoc but strangely enough they were closed both of the 2 full days we were in the neighborhood...but thats OK on to that nights reservations at Bottega!

We first took a little refresher back at The Inn on First and then, Bottega.

This is Michael Chiarello's restaurant.  Current Top Chef: Masters competitor and food network personality also owning NapaStyle trademark stores and Chiarello Family Vineyards.

It was wonderful!  Or as my friends in England would say, Brilliant!  I didn't even make it to the 'Secondi!' course (Which was a shame for me...but I didn't want to leave being in to much pain to enjoy it!) because we had multiple antipasti's and pastas.  Although we did skip to dessert, who could miss that?

What a night, we made our way back to the Inn slowly and took another walk.  Unfortunately Stephanie's pregnancy 'sickness' decided to re-appear for awhile so it was early to bed for her...but besides her feeling bad, we couldn't have ended the night any better...I spent some time just relaxing and thinking about what was going to come out of the kitchen for breakfast the next day...

More could be said and was done, But alas I have probably bored you with my excitement.  Our time there was great, and my wifey did an excellent job with plans and putting up with me tasting and commenting on everything (more just to myself than actually being a critic of anything).  Being only 2 hours away I am sure we will continue to visit and explore all the culinary avenues available to us.

[I suppose I should have took pictures of the food, like in Bottega...But as you are 'in the moment' sometimes you can't be bothered.]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fix Exhaust Hood: $6

Recently I came in to work and realized my exhaust fan/hood was not properly working. There was no suction in order to ventilate the kitchen. Flipping the hood switch on and off I discovered there was a "power" sound and that the air induction part was still operating but not the exhaust fan.

I have run into this problem before in the past and sometimes its just as simple as replacing a belt. Now I understand larger kitchens, franchises, and corporate america usually call in maintenance or a company that comes in and fixes these kind of problems, BUT I run a small commercial kitchen. And yes, if I were to ask they would bring someone in right away to fix the problem...But come on, we know there is probably going to be at least a $200 service charge right? And that's before they even start to assess the situation or do any labor.  (Please do comment and let me know how much these things cost you! I would love to know how expensive its going to be in the future if its not an easy fix!).

Not being scared of heights I borrowed a ladder from maintenance and got up on the roof and removed 4 easy clips from the dome on top of my exhaust. Before climbing up I turned the master switch off in the kitchen. After turning off a secondary switch close to the actual motor I then turned the master switch back on. That way you can sit on top of the roof and use that switch to check and see what wrong or how things work when you get the exhaust fan back together.




As you can see from the pictures its a pretty small unit. It was indeed a worn out, broke belt that kept the exhaust fan from working. Here I already replaced the belt. The motor itself was attached to another metal plate that attached to the base unit. There were four bolts in the plate (you can see part of plate in picture) you can loosen and then slide the motor and plate back and forth in order to quickly and easily change the belt. The belt for this unit costs $6 at Grainger


While I was up there I decided to check the air intake system as well. Both the motor and belt on that unit looked great! It also had a separate switch close to the motor that makes it much easier to work on and check without running up and down the ladder. But while I was up there I removed the 2 filter plates and gave them a good cleaning before putting the top back on the unit. Which by the way, was 2 screws.




Problems like these can sometimes be diagnosed and fixed yourself for very little money. And EVERYONE is trying to save money (or at least keep what they have) these days! Oh yeah, while your at it BUY a few backup belts for the next time. (or just in case you tighten the belt up to much, or leave it to loose and it shreds off again!) And remember if its cold or hot outside so you can adjust the tension on the belt accordingly, it will affect the performance of the belt when the temperature changes.

If you have any Do It Yourself equipment tips, techniques, and/or fixes in the HOME or COMMERCIAL/PROFESSIONAL kitchen, I would love to hear them!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mothers! You can't be a Father without them! (Father's Day Reflections)

Sunday is usually a beautiful day to begin with, yes, I said beautiful! Being Father's Day just increased the joy of waking up to the sunshine trying to sneak past the blinds. [ Don't worry, this is not where I start "waxing poetic" as if I could! Unless of course that's what you consider my way of interpreting things...] For once I think I didn't wake up to my son raising a ruckus playing in his room at 530 am in the morning!

Steph wished me Happy Father's Day and whisked the boys down stairs to play so I could "sleep in". Sleeping in (for me) is probably 7 am at the latest! HA! But usually after I wake up, that's it, I am awake for the rest of the day. I took advantage of the extra time in bed to reflect and ask myself "how good of a father am I really? Am I doing my best?" and then I moved on to thinking about the wonderful family I have.

Downstairs to the coffee I went! There I got my "Happy Fathers Day" greetings from the boys, along with a card made with several memorable pictures of the family! Steph was now keeping the boys occupied so I could relax, read a few articles online on my favorite sites, sip my coffee. Its a full-time job feeding our boys for breakfast! Actually ANY MEAL we feed them! They eat "LIKE A BOSS"! We then move on to getting ready for church...

Steph was looking GOOD and I look, well, like I usually look, laid back and relaxed like I was going to a beach-side service. Or for those of you who can relate, my Mercy Ships look! LOL

Sunday service was excellent! Good friend and Missionary Hal Ward with Vino Nuevo Ministries spoke in our June series UNcommon. Also, all the Fathers received a copy of the book:
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance. (let ya know if its good, haven't read it yet)
 [as a side note, I wish being a good Father was more common than uncommon! SIGH]

Shuttling the kids back home we got their lunch together and then off to nap time for almost everybody! I usually take this time to relax, read, watch a movie or show, I'm not a big "napper". I then called my own dad to wish him Happy Fathers Day and set up a time for us to spend together!

Without these "Homies", I would not be a Father!
Thanks Stephanie! That's why mothers are so important,
can't be a Father without Mother!
After nap we spent the rest of the evening playing outside with the boys! We have one of those kids water play-stations, a child's inflatable pool, and several others things like swing-set, et cetera...Ahhh the life! By this time I have my feet in the pool while I sit in my chair happily creating havoc as I use the water hose to spray the boys as they try to run away!

Steph has made some taco salads, tacos, guacamole, and quesadilla's and we eat outside...Mmmm that has hit the spot!

It was a GREAT Fathers Day! Laid back, enjoyable, time with the family...no hustle bustle long wait to eat at a restaurant, no big schedule of plans on a tight time frame, just a lovely day!

*[for those of you still wondering "what did he get?" I am fine with just this, a day of gratitude! BUT as my loving wife would have it, I get to pick out my own grill! My old grill is about to rust apart. It will probably be a combination Father's Day/Birthday gift...those things cost some money!!!]


Friday, June 13, 2014

Happiness & Facebook

I decided a few months ago I would scale back on "liking" or commenting on "political" and controversial issues on +Facebook. More or less, it was an exercise, an experiment in controlling my happiness. We could probably interchange the word "face" in Facebook with "brag", "look at me!", and/or "I'm the (Wo)Man". Sure, I am guilty of it too...I post things I am interested in, my family I want to dote on, culinary things I have done or am into...BUT in the beginning I just wanted to stay in touch with friends and family from around the world and see what they were doing! And in turn, give them a little piece of what I am doing in my life.

Somewhere along the way I got caught up with arguments and debates about politics, controversial topics, outrageous news stories THAT, come to find out, weren't even HALF true from "reliable" news sources! Everybody has become a journalist/reporter with their own brand/perception of truth! Sharing and re-sharing things so much that even if they were a hoax of untruth, they have now become perceived as a FACT!

Since I have scaled back from so much participation from the negative or "unsolvable" (because debates on theology, politics, gun control, et cetera are not necessarily negative, but your not really going to "win" or solve the problem on Facebook, lets get real about it!) and concentrated on the motivational, uplifting, positive aspects of peoples lives on Facebook I truly feel a level of my happiness has returned! I didn't have to QUIT Facebook, I just tailored my news feed to omit people that tend to post a LOT of this type information. AND I quit participation in "likes' or comments that keep a continual stream of replies that keep sucking you back in to "unsolvable" things! Have I un-friended anybody? No. Although it is true you can block people from showing up on your timeline without un-friending them, I chose to handle it by showing restraint. Eventually Facebook "algorithm" shows less and less of that stuff on my wall.

There are probably studies out there that can even confirm what I am going to tell you next: In my opinion Facebook can feed your need for approval until you are dependent upon it. That's not healthy. Do you post stuff on Facebook to see how many "likes" you can get? Or lure someone into a debate? To shock people? To have comments affirming and approving something you've done, seen, heard, and/or agreed with? OF COURSE YOU HAVE! SO HAVE I! And for the most part, I don't see this as wrong...but it can create a "need" and that's the part I consider not healthy. I'm no doctor, but I have experienced enough things in this world to throw my "two cents" in on WHAT NOT TO DO if your like me, or prone to certain behaviours!

Once again, all of this is merely my perception, my opinion, my own personal experiment that I have seen results in for myself. Try it out. See if over time you find yourself happier, see if you feel like less doubt has crept into your world for things you were certain, confident, already pretty sure about.

Things that make you go HMMM. Remember the Arsenio Hall show and/or that song by C&C Music Factory(I think)? Ok, maybe not. Facebook still, after all these years, does not have a "dislike" or "hate" button. You can "unlike" after you have "like" something, but you can't start out by "disliking" it. Whats the psychology behind that I wonder? Hmmm.

What you can expect from me is to continue posting things (pics, comments, shares...) on friends, family, food, and faith! Occasionally I like to "weigh in" on other things...like if we are talking about certain products we like, or books we have read, an injustice...but I have already scrolled my activity back to reflect my happiness and I already have close family, friends, mentors, and pastors so I don't need to "grow" an addiction, a dependency, on acceptance approval based on Facebook.

NOW to my friends that I usually give a hard time too, debate, and otherwise heckle...Oh yeah, I am still going to BRING IT!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Ramblings...

Parents! What I am about to say is more rhetorical than anything else but feel free to leave us your comments and stories that make us laugh and help us relate to the struggle we call "raising kids". WHY can I wake my two children up for school (ages 4 and almost 2) and within an hour they can be dirty?!?! While we (us parents) run around like a chicken with our head cut off trying to keep a resemblance of "this is the routine" schedule, our children manage to get dirty from head to toe! They (the kids) brush teeth first (if u can succeed at that, do it while pajamas are on...in case you haven't noticed, toothpaste does not REALLY rub out with a sponge or towel) then its on to getting dressed, maybe a short video and light breakfast or snack, shoes, sunblock...then on to the vehicle! WHEW! We made it!!! ~~ Where did those stains come from? I didn't give you anything to eat that looks milky or like smeared chocolate chips! I didn't let you play in the yard on the way to the vehicle...after getting dressed you were only sitting at the table or couch! Ahhh...SIGH. My kids look like they were dressed in yesterdays clothes...AFTER A ROMP IN THE JUNGLE AND A FOOD FIGHT! [rant over]

Last week we all had a great time in Florida! The boys (Tytus & Ezra) had a blast with my in-laws. We stayed with them for a week. Beach, swimming, Uncle David's boat, grillin' & chillin', Disney (just the parents though), aquarium...lots of good Date Nights for mama and daddy! Steph(anie) and I had a great time...I don't want to bombard you with all our food pics and glorious eating experiences (you can find some of them on twitter: tyronebcookin or instagram: tyronebcookn - no "i"). Grandma and Grandpa got to spend lots of quality time with Tytus and Ezra. As you can imagine the ride home was a lot more "whine-E-R" than the greatly anticipate ride THERE! Think, "are we there yet, are we there yet...".

Well, I got to get back to work, then finish up some BBQ items for a wedding reception...its about a hundred people expected. Pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw...a couple of simple carved watermelons with fruit display. But for now, a few pics of our time in Florida!



Ezra & Tytus "schooling" Uncle David @ soccer! (although you can't see Ezra because of Tytus!)

Boys taking full advantage or Grandpa's willingness to play!

Aunt Valorie taking "lessons" on play from the boys!

Grandma watching for "tomfoolery" to happen!
The BOYS doing what they do best after playing hard, EATING!


Grandma & Grandpa training Tytus for swimming

I am on "Ezra Watch" he sometimes makes a sudden run for the waves! 


2 of Stephs favorite things: Churros & Cappuccino [Bongo's Cuban Rest. Downtown Disney] 




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Small Bits & Favorites

Last week I had a visit from the Health Department, as I normally do every 2 months(or at least that seems to be the time pattern for my inspections). As you would have guessed from the picture I made a 95. The 5 points were one critical violation. That morning one of my reach in refrigerators was having trouble keeping milk at the proper temperature instead it was 44-46 Fahrenheit. Unfortunately whoever installed the thermostat prior to our purchase put it at the coldest part of the refrigerator, not the warmest, which is standard practice. Usually hot air rises so most probes are mounted/located at the top, near the front, by where the door opens. Ours was not. I received an extra form for the violation which gave me ten days to fix the problem and then they come back to sign off. Fortunately I am on good terms with the current and past inspectors. We had the refrigerator serviced (thermostat going bad) and I emailed the inspector they could come back early and check if it was more convenient for them. They came the next day and signed off on it and thanked me for letting them know it was ready. We got it fixed in a day, then watched to make sure it "regulated" back to normal so the whole process was about 3 days.

I have ranged between 99 and 95 the past two years since opening this kitchen. The 100 seems to be elusive. I expect it though, its the sign of perfection. And who really has perfection? Its rhetorical, don't answer that. But one day...

WOW! Children's cereals, sugar by the pound! (AND ADULTS) ...I would encourage you to read this article. It will give you graphs/charts that give you the good with the bad. But in paraphrase most cereals (and granola) are over 34% of the daily allowance of sugar. How does that compare? WE, AND/OR OUR KIDS, COULD EAT ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST AND ONLY HIT 15%!!! Here is a link to a downloadable 27 page PDF. Do you really want to read 27 pages? Maybe not, but just by skimming the information was fascinating and the charts were great! We don't let our children eat "cereal" and most granola they eat is made at home, in our kitchen.

Get yo' summer sip on with a mason jar without a critter gettin' in it! I wanted to throw this one out there because I thought it was cool! Maybe its expensive for some straw and lids you may be able to creat yourself by cutting round discs out of flat plastic and punching a hole in it! Then go to your local Starbucks or McD's and get yourself a hand full of those big straws...its probably already a DIY project on Pinterest by somebody!

Two things that have been on my mind after reading reviews and articles from some of my "go-to" places for culinary news and science:

At Home Sous Vide Machine by Sansaire.com
Priced at $199, so yes, its still a wish list item! LOL (I got a family with two growing boys to feed and clothe, poppin' off more than $20 dollars for a kitchen tool that I can play with is a stretch at my house...but I will take donations if your offering and feeling sympathetic towards my plea!) What is Sous Vide you say? Taken from Wikipedia.com:
Sous-vide (/sˈvd/; French for "under vacuum")[1] is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture.
The Baking Steel & Griddle 2.0! Now this one is not actually on the market yet, it comes out in June.

Yep, this baby will probably run a hundred plus based off of looking at the other prices...click the picture for a link to the webpage. Used in place of a pizza stone, or flip it over to use it like a griddle that has a grease channel. Its heavy, and it retains heat. Unlike pizza stones I doubt it will ever crack or break on you!

[all pictures used from its original website are linked TO THAT WEBSITE. If I am in violation from using them please let me know and I will remove them.]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oven Cooking Ground Meat

I have worked in some pretty small kitchens from time to time BUT have never failed to figure out how to complete a scheduled meal. A long time ago I developed an easy, simple way to cook bulk ground meat in a commercial oven using little supervision and a potato masher.

Why would this be a useful thing to know? Not all kitchens have large braising pans, electric skillets, or enough pots to cook it on the stove.

I use 4 inch chafing dishes/hotel pans and cook 10 to 15 pounds of meat in each one. Doesn't matter if its ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, sausage...

Start with about half an inch of water in each pan...here I have 2x10# (2 packs of 10 pounds each) of Ground Beef (80/20 meat fat ratio). See my water pitcher in the background?



Take the meat and spread it out in pan. You can do this quickly it does not have to be "just so".

 I have a commercial convection oven that I set to 375 Fahrenheit (fan on low). You can use 350 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit its not an "exact" type of thing, but the first time you cook it like this keep track of your own times to repeat the process the same way every time. It's easier to teach someone else this way.

This is what it looks like in my oven. I do not cover the meat. The heated air works quicker and allows for some additional coloring and texture of finished meat(besides it looking a light gray from essentially oven steaming it). Yes! I keep a sheet pan in the bottom of my oven at all times for catching drips or mistakes...as you can see some on the pan, black spots.

And another "zoom out" view...


Let the meat cook undisturbed for thirty minutes, no matter what...you can adjust finishing time later. Depending on your oven, the temperature you use, kind of meat, et cetera...the time it takes to cook ground meat to proper internal temperature varies. I believe its 155 Fahrenheit for most ground meats except poultry, which I believe still has to reach 165. See how it looks kind of "meat loaf-ish"? Its time to pour as much juice/fat/water off as you can. Plus if you remove the liquid, its less dangerous using the masher to "ground" the meat! Ok, your thirty minutes has gone by...


Notice now we have most of the liquid and impurities drained off. Please don't feel like you have to drain the pan of liquid till every last drop of liquid is out, that defeats the purpose of this being easy and simple. See how the meat looks like a big loaf?


Time to turn that potato masher into a multi-tasker...Alton Brown would be so proud right now! I usually mash it down with the masher squiggles going one way, then mash the meat again with it going the other way...use the masher as a "rake" to move big chunks around for another mash if needed. This is when I would season the meat. After the first drain and mash. Back in the oven!

Its time to put the meat back in till its done all the way AKA (also known as) being at the proper internal temperature. This could be 15 minutes or more...depends on the meat and how many pounds you started with. But if your using a timer just set another 15 and check it again. NOW we are pretty sure the meat is done...drain it again if you think it has released more liquid than you want to keep in it.



Mash again. This is the second and last time. Once while cooking and again after the meat is done. Your now ready to use your meat, and/or let it cool, label & date, and put in freezer or fridge.


If your commercial kitchen is small like my current one, we do not use a fryer so we also do not have a grease pit that holds oils and fats until a big truck comes and services it(sucks it out). So, I let the fat separate naturally and then I ladle into a +Ziploc bag inside a +Cambro pitcher.

Then I throw it in a freezer till its solid, pull it out of the pitcher, and throw it away!