You know this really bugs me because I keep repeating myself: I have no use for chefs who can't be bothered to finish cooking meat.
Properly cooked liver
I have no problem with raw food that's supposed to be served that way, whether it's sashimi or chi kufte, assuming it's been properly prepared with reliable ingredients. But I have a big problem with the pink-is-perfect movement that has turned so many restaurant menus into menageries of bleeding birds and beasts.
There are times when I feel dinner should be lashed to the plate to keep it from running away.
No question, there's a degree of preference involved, and my preference generally runs hot. I also understand that the trend to lower internal cooking temperatures is linked to the trend in lower fat content: Cuts of meat that aren't well-marbled can get tough pretty quickly.
This is a big part of why cooking isn't simple. Good chefs use different techniques to achieve the desired result. Finding the right balance in all things is a constant challenge, whether the goal is flavor or texture, or simply making your guests happy while keeping them safe.
Apparently, this is just too much to ask of some chefs, including big-name celebrities. Consider this report from England's Independent newspaper.
“A restaurant run by the celebrity chef Raymond Blanc risked killing diners by selling dangerously undercooked meat, a court heard yesterday.
“Staff at Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden, central London, were warned their method for searing lamb's liver was in breach of food-hygiene rules.
“One woman had already suffered a serious case of food poisoning after eating the meal. But the upscale restaurant, part of a chain owned by the Michelin-starred French chef, ignored the warning and continued serving up the dish.”
When a second diner became ill, the health authorities returned and ordered the dish off the menu unless the restaurant agreed to follow the rules.
The head chef and director is something of a one-person fine-dining industry in Great Britain, with 18 Brasseries across the country. He is also a well-known TV figure.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Blanc believes liver should be cooked quickly for as little as 30 seconds on each side. The health authorities advised cooking it for two minutes to an internal temperature of 70 degrees C., equivalent to the American standard of 160 degrees F.
A spokesman for Blanc told the Guardian that the ruling meant liver would be off the menu permanently because “it would need to be overcooked to such an extent that our customers just won't eat it."
Chef Blanc's Web site notes that he is “totally self-taught.” I guess in that case, he deserves a little forgiveness. Unlike Chef Blanc, I had a mother who taught me how to cook lamb's liver properly, meaning Armenian-style.
So, Chef Blanc, in the interest of international good will – and your customers' health – click here for your first cooking lesson, free of charge.