© Kirsten Stamn
Booker and Dax food scientist Dave Arnold is launching a Kickstarter campaign on Black Friday (November 29) to manufacture his lab’s latest invention and first retail product, the Searzall. Attached to a blowtorch, the metal-and-mesh cone delivers focused, high-powered heat like a hand-held broiler without the bad tastes associated with a torch. Arnold credits a friend and researcher at UC Davis with helping him get started on a prototype: "She found out that it’s not the fuel that creates off tastes. The super high temperature of the torch focused on what you’re cooking creates new compounds that taste like fuel. The idea is to slow down and spread out the heat."
The Searzall excels at creating a crispy crust on proteins that have been cooked at low temperatures. However, Arnold’s Bill Nye-esque levels of curiosity mean he’ll test it on anything. “If anyone says, ‘What about that?’ we’ll try it. It is a Searzall, not the Searsome or the Searsmost. But the question is whether it does something more effective than an ordinary cooking appliance,” he explains.
While previewing the device in the F&W Test Kitchen this week, he shot flames at apple slices (held between his fingers no less) before getting to the mission:
Thanksgiving Dinner by Blowtorch.
To prep, his team had distilled the holiday meal into a single sandwich. They baked stuffing patties set into Parker House dough (a genius idea that could totally be done at home with pull-apart rolls), created a cranberry mayo called Crayonnaise and then produced what could only be called a Thanksgiving turkey steak: Layers of white and dark meat adhered by meat glue. Hidden within the center: pockets of congealed gravy that liquefied during cooking and poured out over the meat when sliced. No more disturbing than Turducken (all parts were in fact from one species) and fairly brilliant, the creation makes us think that Booker and Dax's modernist East Village bar should be followed by B&D Butcher. After cooking the holiday Frankensteak in a low-temp oven, Arnold Searzall-ed it (above) before mounding the crispy-tender hunk onto the stuffing filled bun.
Thanks to Arnold, this most likely will be something you can try at home next year. Arnold aims to sell the Searzall for about $75 and there are plenty of other projects you can try it on. Here, more foods Arnold likes to torch.
Foie gras. "If you’re still someone who cooks foie gras, it’s quite obviously the best way to do it. You lose almost nothing."
Cheese. "It’s really good for toasting cheese, especially if you don’t use American cheese that melts on its own. If you were out camping, I know you’re supposed to start your own fire, but you could cook one burger for yourself, from raw with toasted bun and melted cheese in like 5 minutes. If you were doing eight burgers it would take a while."
Seafood. "David Chang really likes it on fish and it's great for raw-centered scallops."
Pizza. "Like reheating dorm room pizza. It takes under a minute per slice and you're done. Sucker’s crisp as anything."
Steaks and chops. "I’m always thinking steak steak steak, pork chops, steak."