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14 May 2019


Free-to-air television is clearly struggling against the digitally disruptive streaming services. And without the revenue flow from advertisers, networks can’t find the money to fund quality productions.

Subscription services don’t need to build costly transmitters all over the world and YouTube et al learn what you like to watch by harvesting data from your viewing history.

Filling the void is an over-load of reality television with Married At First Sight and My Kitchen Rules being free-to-air ratings winners.

The premise of these shows is that the voyeuristic general public will be entertained by watching disparate and/or desperate real-life unfortunates who are ready, willing and able to bare their souls on national television.

But while I’ve learnt nothing from MAFS, I have to admit that MKR has taught me something about basic cooking techniques.

Starting with never serving under-cooked chicken, and also being careful not to burn the brownies.

There are some basic chemical principles involved in cooking, starting with the Maillard reaction.

In 1912 the French chemist Louis Camille Maillard described a chemical reaction that took place at 140°C between amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and reducing sugars that produced a flavoursome brown sticky substance.

This reaction creates the searing on a steak and the brown crust on my bread.

But a temperature as high as 140︡°C would quickly cook my car’s engine which is designed to run at 90°C.

With the temperature in my combustion chamber and exhaust sitting at 600︡°C my engine relies on a water jacket in the engine and cylinder head to dissipate all of that heat.

Water boils at 100︡°C at sea level.

An unpressurised radiator would allow the water to boil at 90︡°C if I was driving at an elevation of 3000 metres.

That means that motorists in Lhasa (China), Cusco (Peru) and La Paz (Bolivia) would have boiling radiators if not for the radiator cap pressurizing the cooling system.

Radiators are sealed with a pressure cap rated to about 12psi which brings the boiling point up to 115︡°C.

With a thermostat controlling circulation and electric fans adding more cooling modern cars have no trouble running at 90︡°C even in extreme environments.

That operating temperature is very close to the 87︡°C required to ensure my chicken is properly cooked.

So it is technically possible to sous-vide chicken in your car radiator.

Which is why I am writing this article.

You see my tummy is still grumbling after last night’s chicken dinner served up to me at a 5-Star Sydney Hotel.

I sent the first meal back after eating half of it (the thin bit).

Each slice seemed very pink (aka raw) and I didn’t want to risk ingesting too many more bacteria.

I told the waiter not to bother bringing me another meal, but he gave me another one anyway, identically under-cooked.

I wasn’t worried about the absence of searing on the outside, but I could tell that neither piece of chicken had reached that magical 87︡°C on the inside.

So the second meal was sent back without a bite.

Eager to ensure I didn’t go home hungry I was then served a third meal, but I’d lost my appetite and was wondering if I would be ill.

At breakfast, I was too polite to ask my colleagues how they’d fared.

So what has my 5-Star raw chicken dinner taught me?

When it comes to cooking, my kitchen rules!

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser



Published: 14 May 2019