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Friday, November 25, 2005

Nobel Intent: Science and the stovetop

I must confess, as a non-native of these shores, the holiday of Thanksgiving is more an excuse for a couple of days at home and a good meal than anything else. They do say never to trust a scientist who can't cook, and if you can do molecular biology then you can follow a recipe.[...]

Quote: "The secret to a good roast, be it turkey, or in my case, roast beef, is in the complex chemistry behind the Maillard reaction. This involves amino acids (from the proteins) and sugars, plus the addition of heat to get all those molecules dancing. What you end up with is brown and delicious. a complex mixture of different compounds that make up the taste, whether it be toast that's burnt just enough, the glistening skin on a roast bird or that mouth-watering crust on the joint of beef. In this case, you want a very high heat to begin the first stage, which is why we preheat ovens and, in the case of meat, we sear it first."

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