Cooking Tips rss

Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.

Luscious Braised Pork Belly

Pork belly, the rich cut used for bacon, makes a luscious dish when braised until tender. azhotdish calls Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s braised pork belly with shallot-ginger confit “easy and delicious.” The braised filling of David Chang’s pork-belly buns is also great over rice, says BigSal, who adds, “We devoured the pork belly in no time.”

Botch makes it Chinese-style, braised in beef stock with a little soy sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar (Chinese red or black, if available), a few star anise, a cinnamon stick, and a sliced orange, rind on. “It’s just right sliced in thick strips over rice,” says Botch, “with some sautéed veggies (garlic/oyster sauce is nice) on the side. Maybe a couple nice beers to go with it.”

Board Link: Pork Belly Recipe

Pimento Cheese 101

Pimento cheese is a traditional Southern dish usually eaten as a sandwich filling. It commands particular affection and strong opinions among Southerners, but is loved by folks from all over. Its main ingredients are cheddar cheese, jarred pimiento peppers, and mayonnaise, but it’s much more than the sum of its parts. FoodFuser waxes poetic about pimento cheese, which he learned to make when he was a small child: “Real Pimento Cheese will stroke the palate and connote the sounds of the creaking chain of the front porch swing as it pendulums its way through a lovely and lazy summer afternoon.”

Pimento cheese is extremely easy to make. It’s simply grated yellow Cheddar (most hounds like to use sharp Cheddar), chopped drained jarred pimientos, and mayonnaise folded together; hounds variously add a bit of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Tabasco or ground cayenne, a little yellow mustard, or a small amount of grated sweet onion, according to taste. Tom P’s recipe uses a seven-ounce jar of pimientos and two thirds of a cup of mayo for each pound of cheese.

The classic bread for pimento cheese sandwiches is a close-grained white sandwich bread, says MakingSense. FoodFuser recommends Pepperidge Farm Very Thin or a Pullman loaf. In addition to making sandwiches or eating it on crackers, Janet from Richmond says it’s good on burgers and baked potatoes, and “makes a kick-ass grilled cheese or grilled ham and cheese.”

Board Link: Augusta National Pimento Cheese

Greens, Glorious Greens

Dark, leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, kale, collards, and bok choy are delicious, versatile, and super-healthy. Chowhounds have many favorite ways to prepare them, from tossing them in frittatas or simply sautéing with a squeeze of lemon, to serving them with pasta and in soups.

Southern-style greens cooked with smoky meats (such as bacon, salt pork, or smoked turkey wings) are popular: Brown the meat to render some of its fat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add greens, cover and cook until wilted, then uncover and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper and some cider vinegar. “Don’t forget the hot pepper,” advises Hungry Celeste, “or serve with some pepper vinegar on the side.” scubadoo97 likes these for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

pigtails says kale is “amazingly delicious” blanched, then sautéed with a shallot, a little nutmeg, and a splash of cream. jen kalb likes a simple Chinese preparation: Blanch the greens until crisp-tender, drain them, and drizzle with oyster sauce. Heat a couple tablespoons peanut oil until smoking, add shredded ginger and cook a minute, then pour over the greens and stir.

Chopped greens liven up any broth-based soups. pitu calls this method from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook “a genius simple surprise”: Sweat a couple onions, add some chile flakes and kale cut in ribbons, cover with water, and simmer 30 minutes or less. Emme simmers greens and wild mushrooms in miso broth until tender, adds some Bragg Liquid Aminos, then drizzles in egg whites beaten with garlic and herb seasoning to make egg drop soup. And try vegetable-rich Winter Greens Soup.

Another option: simple dishes of greens and pasta. Sauté greens with garlic in olive oil, then add diced ripe tomatoes, season with vinegar or red pepper flakes, and toss with pasta. Add olives, pine, nuts, anchovy, or other savory ingredients; sweetTooth is a fan of harissa spaghettini with kale and olives. When you’re more ambitious, try CHOW’s Winter Greens Lasagne or malfati, which pitu describes as “lucious balls of chard leaves, ricotta, eggs, and parmasean, served in sage butter.”

Board Link: Greens - how do you prepare them

Cooking with Boursin

Boursin cheese is a great ingredient, lending its garlic and herb flavors and creaminess to dishes, and Chowhounds have lots of ideas for ways to cook with it.

You can use it in sauces to top meat or pasta: iamafoodie makes a mushroom sauce with it to top a steak sandwich, and says it’s “pure bliss if you start with a good demi-glace.”

LindaWhit likes to combine sautéed veggies, Boursin, some half and half, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan for a quick dinner. Or you can make twice-baked potatoes: Mix baked potatoes scooped from their skins with Boursin, some butter, and a splash of heavy cream, then stuff back into the skins, top with a sprinkle of grated Gruyère, and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden, says Deenso.

Here are some more Boursin recipe ideas:

• Add to omelets, frittatas, and scrambled eggs
• Stir into grits or mashed potatoes
• Mix with chopped prosciutto or tomatoes, and use to stuff mushrooms
• Stuff into chicken breasts, pork chops, or beef filets

Board Link: extra boursin cheese left over

So You Think You Hate Beets?

Fresh beets are sweet and satisfying when prepared well, nothing like their drab canned brethren. Cook them with potatoes and mash the two together for “hot pink mashed potatoes that are SO flavorful,” recommends kaaris.

Roasting beets concentrates their sweetness and makes them extra-delicious. Add roasted beets to lentil soup or a frittata, dress them with garlic-walnut sauce or lemon juice, yogurt, and horseradish, or serve them Mexican style, pickled in sour orange juice.

Beets are a great addition to salads (especially with goat, feta, or blue cheese), or they can be the star ingredient. Try shredded beets with sour cream or Greek yogurt and fresh herbs, dressed with a vinaigrette, or tossed into slaws. They’re surprisingly great raw in beet and parsley salad, says dct. Use them roasted in beet and ginger salad

Add shredded beets to latkes and rösti, or slice them extra-thin on a mandoline and bake or deep fry into crisp chips.

Board Link: Help! I am trying to like beets but struggling. Healthy ideas?

Shrimp Party

For a special dinner, try easy, zingy shrimp dishes that go beyond the everyday sauté. You can butterfly jumbo shrimp, stuff shrimp with crabmeat and bake, or try garlic-roasted shrimp with red peppers and smoked paprika.

Shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese is a classic combination that can be served with orzo, baked with penne, or cooked with ouzo (the ouzo makes this recipe “mysterious, savory, fantastico,” raves alkapal). For a non-traditional variation, coll loves grits with shrimp and roasted red bell pepper, finished with feta.

Shrimp is luxurious when paired with cream and spirits. Amuse Bouches serves a dish called Dublin lawyer, which is shrimp in a whiskey cream sauce, and you can also try CHOW’s Cognac Shrimp Bisque.

Board Link: Shrimp for Easter dinner?

Great Snacks Begin with Cream Cheese

The familiar silver-wrapped brick of cream cheese is good for much more than making cheesecake and spreading on bagels. You can mix it with salmon, says Yukari, and use this as a filling in fried pot stickers or small egg rolls. And maplesugar suggests making these cream cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeños.

Cream cheese and eggs are natural partners, say hounds. Mix the cheese into a baked frittata, scramble it into eggs with smoked salmon and dill, or try a sophisticated take on the wrap with CHOW’s Cream Cheese and Chive Scramble with Prosciutto.

Cream cheese is also a great base for dips and spreads for chips, crackers, and sandwiches. Here are a few ideas:

• Top with mango chutney, jalapeño jelly, or Pickapeppa Sauce
• Pulse in food processor with marinated artichoke hearts
• Mix with sliced pimento-stuffed olives and crumbled bacon or chopped walnuts
• Mix with feta, chopped spinach, and walnuts
Hot spinach dip

Board Link: what to do with philadelphia cream cheese?

Favorite Ways with Sage

Sage is a versatile herb that’s good with much more than just Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Here are some of Chowhounds’ favorite ways to cook with it:

• Butternut squash ravioli or gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
• Pizza topped with sage, caramelized onions, and fontina cheese
• White beans simmered with tomatoes, garlic, and sage, eaten with crusty bread or over pasta; or white beans, caramelized onions, and sage
• Roasted chicken with sage leaves stuffed under the skin and in the cavity

Fried sage leaves are delicious, and make a great garnish for pork, pan-fried fish, or roasted vegetables. You can deep- fry them, or simply crisp them in a little olive oil. For great snacking, try Fried Chickpeas with Sage.

Board Link: Sage-focused recipes?

For Perfect Enchiladas, Treat Your Tortillas Right

Briefly frying tortillas in oil before rolling them is key to making great enchiladas, say Chowhounds. The oil brings out the corn flavor of the tortillas and keeps them from absorbing too much sauce and becoming mushy, improving the enchiladas’ texture. As an alternative to frying in a quantity of oil, you can brush the tortillas with oil and toast them on each side in a skillet, or heat them on a baking sheet in the oven.

Hone your technique by making CHOW’s Cheesy Enchiladas or Crispy Turkey Enchiladas

Board Link: Corn tortillas…soften in oil or not?

How to Cook Boneless Turkey Breast

Boneless, skinless turkey breast is so lean it dries out unless you cook it carefully. Instead of cooking it whole, you can slice it into cutlets to sauté; cut it into strips and cook quickly for fajitas, salads, or sandwiches; or grind it with apple, onion, and seasonings to make sausage patties.

Marinating overnight adds flavor and helps keep the turkey moist. Kater makes a marinade of juice, lime zest, olive oil, tequila, garlic, cilantro, red onion, chipotle chile, cumin, salt, pepper, and the juice of an orange, then grills the breast. valerie mixes 1/2 cup each warmed honey and low-sodium soy sauce with some ginger and garlic, pours that over the turkey to marinate overnight, then roasts at 375°F for about 45 minutes.

Boneless turkey breasts are also good butterflied, stuffed, and rolled; you can drape it with bacon to keep it moist and then bake or braise. The meat’s also a good candidate for the slow cooker, or you can go to the other extreme by making Spicy Turkey Jerky.

Board Link: help please. what to do with a boneless skinless turkey breast