Dried beans and salt. Dried beans and soaking.  Ask some chefs and they’ll tell you add salt in the beginning and the beans will never get soft.  Some chefs have suggested that salt slows the rehydration of beans.  Others say, the slower the rehydration, the better the finished bean (fewer broken ones), so it’s important to soak them overnight.  Others say it doesn’t really matter, or it depends.  One thing that is demonstrably true is that you don’t have to soak your beans overnight; if you want beans for dinner, put them in water and cook them till they’re tender or at least edible, no soaking, no blanching, just put them in a pot and cook them. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, though, and having little scientific knowledge of bean cookery myself, Read On »

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How to brine chicken, quick chicken brine recipe—why do we need quick? Because usually when I realize I need to brine something it’s too late to make and cool the brine, and then go through the hours of brining. I always brine chickens that I intend to fry. Always. Well, almost always, sometimes, the urge comes too fast and powerfully even to do this, but normally I have at least four hours before I need to get the chicken floured and plunked into the fat. Here’s what I do when I need to brine fast . As I write in Ratio: The Simple Codes etc., my ideal brine is 5%. That means 50 grams of salt in a liter of water, 1 ounce of salt for every 20 ounces of water, or for those poor Read On »

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Common in professional kitchens, painter’s tape and a good marker should be a part of a home kitchen as well.  It works best on deli cups but it can be used on most surfaces.  Better, it can be removed from them as well, without leaving stickiness behind. (Photo by donna, thanks sweetheart!) I store a lot of stock in a basement freezer and every container gets marked and dated.  Don’t even think you’ll remember what that stuff is under all that frost.  Don’t think you’re going to remember how many yolks were left over from making angel food cake. I first saw blue painter’s tape at The French Laundry years ago.  Thomas Keller’s restaurants now use green painter’s tape because, I believe, it’s even cleaner when removed than the blue stuff (more expensive too).  I Read On »

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