Cooking School Secrets: Myth Busters on Lettuce and Red Meat

Cooking school, as it turns out, has forced me to change some of my long-standing practices. It didn't take long before I realized they were based on misconceptions. From time to time I'll give you a myth buster or two I've learned about in class.

For starters, lettuce.

Get this. You no longer need to tear lettuce.

The number of hours I've spent tearing romaine for Caesar Salad could have been spent reading...or doing laundry or playing Rock Band. Turns out that the material used for making knives (most often, carbon steel) does not discolor lettuce they way our parents' knives did. Enjoy the extra few minutes.

Here's another shocker: Red meat may not be the best meat.

I used to scour the supermarket packages for the brightest, reddest cuts, thinking I was getting the freshest, most tender steaks. Wrong again. Color is not an accurate indicator of freshness. Meat packers often use carbon monoxide as a "freshness extender"; it preserves the meat's red color indefinitely. What looks newest may actually be oldest.

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