Once a week I listen to a podcast or two from On Point from WBUR . Recently a surprise... friend Greg Blonder was featured as a barbecue expert along with his collaborator 'Meathead' Goldwyn. Greg really is an expert - he's dived into grilling and other types of cooking wearing the hat of an experimentalist. The show is a bit forced given time constraints, but if you do meat (I don't), you'll find some good tips. At the end there is a bit on vegetables and some of the tips are appropriate for veggies too..
Why did the steak miss the mark? Well, you have to brown the meat's surface over a hot flame to develop a tasty, aromatic crust. This takes heat, lots of heat, applied quickly so the entire steak doesn't turn to charcoal. But, in order to simultaneously cook through to the raw center, that same energy must diffuse from the fire, past the sizzling meat's surface, into the core.
Muscle, as luck would have it, is a rather poor thermal conductor (as well as a great absorber) of heat. There is a huge temperature gradient between surface and center when grilling a steak right out of the fridge. A gradient that stubbornly resists leveling out during cooking. Simply trying to force more heat in from the grill merely piles up energy near the surface. The outer 1/4" can easily reach 170F (which is both flavorless and tough), while meat near the bone may be 10F cooler than the center, because bone slightly impedes heat flow.
All a consequence of meat's astonishingly poor thermal properties.
There must be a better way. Actually, there are two:
To date, it’s impossible to know how much the effort has helped: Public health is a slow-moving target and frustratingly hard to measure. But there’s no question that big changes have been set in motion that will prove difficult to reverse, if they’re reversible at all. What emerges here for the first time is a full portrait of just how Obama and her bulldog personal chef engineered and enacted the most aggressive food policy agenda in living memory—a modern example of how a White House spouse can use her unelected platform to wage a genuine Washington policy fight.