Cooking sous vide, wrapped food submerged in warm to hot water, is a relatively new form of cooking now available to home cooks. The method truly does allow for transforming food in ways previously not possible with such precision. The best example of what it can do is short ribs. Short ribs cooked at 140˚ F. for 48 hours results in medium rare to medium meat, still pink, but completely tender. Pork belly cooked for that same time, then chilled is ready to be seared crispy when you’re ready to serve it. Chicken thighs and duck legs the same. Not only does sous vide give you precise control of the internal temperature of meat and fish, it gives you the convenience of preparing food in advance, perfectly, so that it’s ready when you need it. Read On »

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  The two great turkey conundrums: 1) how to have juicy breast meat and tender dark meat and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Last year, chatting with my neighbor, the excellent chef Doug Katz (Fire Food and Drink), described how he cooks the turkey in stock up to the drumstick so that the legs braise while the breast and skin cook in dry heat. Last year I tried it and it works brilliantly. Thank you, Doug. Doug posted his version on the restaurant’s blog. I’ve simplified and added a couple steps to make it easier for perfect doneness. (Step-by-step pix below.) The basic idea is this: cook the turkey half submerged in flavorful liquid and lots of aromatic vegetables. When the breast is barely Read On »

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People freak out about gravy. I don’t know why. Gravy is easy as pie. Actually, a hell of a lot easier than pie. All it is, is a delicious, rich stock thickened with flour. In cooking school, they call it velouté, French for velvety. You take a great stock and give it a velvety texture. Flour-thickened sauces got a bad name when bad “French” restaurants served heavy terrible sauces. Properly prepared, flour-thickened sauces are light, flavorful, and refreshing. I prefer them to heavy reductions which, prepared thoughtlessly, are gluey with protein and make the tongue stick to the palate. The key is dispersing the flour uniformly through the sauce. We do this by combining the fat (butter, rendered chicken or turkey fat) so that the granules of flour are each coated with fat to prevent Read On »

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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When I introduced our offset basting tasting saucing spoons, we showed clips of my basting roast cauliflower (above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), numerous people asked me how to I cooked the caulflower.  And just today, Ted Allen said in an email he’d roasted plenty of cauliflower but never thought to do it whole, loved the presentation it would make.  Indeed, it can be roasted cut or whole.  Cut cauliflower cooks faster and there’s a lot more surface that gets browned (it’s what I do when I forget to start the whole cauliflower in time).  But cooking it whole is easier, and it looks so cool while it’s roasting and does make a tantalizing presentation at the table.  Either way, roasted cauliflower is a great dish, either as a side dish to a bigger meal Read On »

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