was taught to cook using my hands. Hands were referred to as “your best tools.”
Not using the hands was seen as a sign of cowardice. For instance, using
kitchen mitts or even having them was a sin against the precept that a cook
handled hot utensils with two dry towels or bare – handed if possible. In other
practices, sauces were tasted frequently, with the fingers, of course.
Sandwiches were also made with bare hands instead of gloves.
In those days equipment and temperatures could
be measured by feel. Hot equipment was checked by the palm of the hand method.
If you held your hand over a pancake griddle and your palm felt hot enough to
move it after about 15 seconds it was hot enough to use for cooking and around
350 degrees. So if the cook’s palm got hot over the pan it tells them that you
were good to go. The same can be done with sauté pans and deep fryers. Remember
that 350 degrees is an acceptable cooking temperature for most fried, baked,
sautéed, or grilled items. In other words 350 degrees is the correct answer to
Nowadays it might be felt that cooking batteries: Fryers,
stoves, etc are carefully calibrated , making hand sensing something of of the
stone age but consider whether it is more accurate to calibrate the temperature
of a cooking utensil and then to forget about calibration while assuming that
all is well. Better to calibrate by the palm of the hand method say on a daily
basis. The wiser course would be the palm of the hand method which can be done
frequently and without special equipment. The idea here is to prevent disasters
caused by overheated equipment which can happen very fast and usually occurs
when the people operating them assume that everything is running O.K. The palm
of the hand method also assists the sauté cook. Sauté pans are used dry. The
old time protocol was to never wash the pan but to wipe it out with a dry towel.
When a sautéed item is ordered, the cook puts the pan on the stove dry, does a
palm of the hand test on the dry pan then adds his oil. If the pan is hot
enough the oil will heat immediately to where the sauté can begin. This heat
transfer occurs so instantaneously that people who have never seen the
technique used before are amazed at how fast it goes.
TO USE THE PALM OF THE HAND METHOD FOR SAUTE WORK:
the heat under the dry sauté pan.
the palm of the hand about 4 inches above the surface of the pan and if you
can’t feel any heat the pan is not hot enough. Also, if you have to move your
hand immediately, the pan is too hot and you will need to turn the burner off
to let it cool a bit.
your pan is hot enough but not too hot you can now add your oil to the pan and
then put the food that you are sautéing in the pan not long after the oil.