Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Shake Shack

America's Test Kitchen was popularizing burgers from the Shake Shack, illustrating with a film visit to Madison Square Park, and the long lines of customers.

For non-New Yorkers, Madison Square Park is located at 23rd Street, between 5th and Broadway, and is no where near Madison Square Garden. Related to Civil War themes, troops used to quell the draft riots in New York City in 1863 were located in Madison Square Park. Related to electric lighting, in 1880, Brush Electric Light Company provided lighting to the Square. A renovation of the park was completed in 2001 and the Shake Shack opened for business in 2004.

One thing ATK did not mention was a report from slashfood in 2006:

If you find yourself in the Southeast corner of Madison Square Park in New York City, you might have seen a line snaking back and forth and around corners. This would have been the line for Shake Shack, a tiny joint that serves up burgers, fries and shakes that has an almost cult-like following.
However, you might not see that line anymore, as Eater reports that the restaurant has received a score of a whopping 140 points and 15 violations in its July health inspection. According to Gawker, that makes Shake Shack the second dirtiest place to eat in New York.
Sure, we understand bad equipment, perhaps a faulty thermometer in keeping food at the right temperature, but cross contamination? In a place that serves meat? Ugh. But nothing beats vermin infestation. You could grab a latte at Starbucks, a burger from Shake Shack, and get your complete recommended daily intake of bugs in one meal.

ATK did give a do-it-yourself guide for burgers:

Flat meat (sirloin tip) and short rib meat is the combo for America's Test Kitchen "best burger." Salt added only after grinding. Thin griddled crispy crust after cooking in skillet.
With them, toasted potato rolls.

Of fries, Yukon gold cut into 1/4 by 1/4" fry strips. Peanut oil. Potatos into cold oil. Then 15 minute boil.
Guy Crosby discussed the science.
Water in potato: free water, adsorbed water, and bound water. Bound water was stated to be water of crystallization. The more water evaporated, the more oil absorbed.
A plot of % oil absorbed vs. time was shown.
In ATK recipe, the temperature only reaches 300F.
As to the science, the proposition that oil "replaces" water in cooking was presented as established fact, tho it is less than
obvious that a higher molecular weight hydrophobic molecule (oil) would "replace" either adsorbed or bound water. Adsorbed or bound water might leave the potato on prolonged treatment above 212 F but oil isn't going to those sites.

Oil is absorbed by the potato during frying. For French fries, the oil content is 10-15%, which is less than the 33 to 38% for (higher surface area) potato chips. During deep fat frying, the oil changes and the potato changes, all of which was ignored during ATK, which emphasized "oil replacing water."

One thing one might want to contemplate is generation of acrylamide.

See French fries with less than 100 µg/kg acrylamide. A collaboration between cooks and analysts

In an earlier post, IPBiz noted the passing of Edwin Traisman, who invented the McDonalds process for preparing frozen French Fries. Contemplate text from US 3649305, (which cited Traisman's US3050404) which has more useful information than found on ATK:

Of the size of the fries: In accordance with this invention, potatoes are held in storage under conventional, normal accepted conditions so as not to accumulate excessive amounts of sugar therein. They are then peeled, trimmed, sorted, and cut into french fry sized strips of about three-sixteenths inch to nine-sixteenths inch in cross section.

Of temperature: The strips are then partially deep fat fried for from about 30 seconds to about 90 seconds in an oil bath at a temperature of from about 300° to about 400° F

The patent mentions sugar and starch issues: The strips are then thoroughly washed to remove the free starch remaining on the surface caused by the rupturing of the potato cells in the cutting process. If desired, the sugar content of the potato strips may be adjusted by well-known means at this point in the process.

The utility of the patent: The final product resembles french fried potatoes prepared directly from fresh potatoes in quality, color, texture, and most importantly, in flavor and odor.

Cross references:

Chemical reactions of deep fat frying of foods

New determination method of amylose content in potato starch

US 3,937,608

United States Patent Application 20010055637

***Of the everything's better in New York theme, from Lamar Odom of the Lakers:

To Odom, of course, there is nothing bigger in basketball than wearing a Lakers uniform and following in the footsteps of such names as West, Baylor, Goodrich, Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson and O’Neal. Getting to live in sunny, celebrity-filled Los Angeles isn’t bad, either.

“We got a lot of good things going for us in L.A.,” Odom said. “Playing for the Lakers is unlike playing for any other team in the world. It’s almost like being a Yankee.

**UPDATE on Shake Shack, 12 July 2010

Burger lovers rejoice! Minichain Shake Shack opens in Times Square

It's at W. 44th St. and Eighth Ave.


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