Cooking Tips rss

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

Best Rib-Eye Technique

Many consider rib-eye steaks the most flavorful beef cut. Here are tips for producing the most tender and tasty grilled rib-eyes.

Always, always, always buy the best quality you can. Choice beef is good, Prime is better. A butcher shop rather than a supermarket is more likely to have the quality beef you want, though some recommend Costco’s. Ask your butcher to cut the steaks at least one inch thick. A one-and-a-half- to two-inch cut is better. Look for well-marbled steaks without thick veins of fat. Dry-aged steaks will have the best flavor, but the texture will be a bit tougher. alanbarnes has a technique for dry-aging at home.

Before cooking, bring the steaks to room temperature. Season simply with salt and pepper. More complex rubs might include garlic, powdered mustard, chili powder, cinnamon, dried oregano, cumin, or brown sugar.

Sear the steaks on high heat for a minute or so on each side, then finish them over lower heat. bulavinaka uses two grills to maintain two temperatures. This also can be done by searing in a cast iron pan on the stove and finishing in the oven. If you can’t reliably discern doneness by touch, use a thermometer.

Board Link: how do you get your rib-eye so tender?

Stock-Making Tips and Tricks

Making stock is a basic kitchen technique; hounds offer a lot of sound advice on how to do it.

How long should stock simmer? Until it tastes good. popcorn_denver says, “Stock, to me, is always ready to use, but never ‘done’.” Most agree that the right time is somewhere between one and four hours. (Except fish stock, of course, which can be finished in 15 to 30 minutes.)

Skimming the scum that rises to the top is essential, but not much fun. A folding of high-quality paper towels can mop up the scum. When finished, straining the stock through cheesecloth will clarify it nicely.

If you make a big batch of stock to keep around for various uses, try leaving it unseasoned. That way you can add different flavorings for each use.

Reducing the stock to a jellylike consistency makes it easy to cube and freeze for later use.

Here are more little things you can do to crank up your stock quality: If you want a deep-flavored brown stock, roast your bones. Crack chicken bones so the marrow will flavor the stock. Add chicken feet for flavor and high gelatin content.

Most important, relax. If the stock is clear, tasty, and of a consistency you can use, it’s good.

Board Link: I would like to discuss stock.

Too Many Pears?

Have too many pears? DanaB comes to the rescue with a classic recipe first posted here by galleygirl in 2004.

Laurie’s Pear Tart
3 or 4 ripe juicy pears …
Peel, core, and cut into sixths or eighths

1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla …

2 eggs, one at a time …

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt …

Add to butter mixture.

Spray an 8-inch (important) springform pan with Pam. Spread the batter in it. Now, in a pinwheel pattern, press the slices of pear, peeled side up, into the batter. Cram in as many as you can; since the batter rises and covers the pears, there are no points given for style here. The more pears, the moister the cake will be.

Bake at 350°F until a skewer comes out clean, about an hour. If you have any doubts, underbake. This is a whole different animal if it dries out.

Board Links: Pearfect Pears–just too many
A plethora of pears- any recipes?

Beer and Brats

jdf is doing brats in beer on the grill for the first time and wants to do it right. What’s the correct brew?

pikawicca votes for Samuel Adams—nothing heavier than a lager—and always adds sliced onions.

tdmmcarthy21 gives us the recipe: Grill the brats over indirect heat for at least 20 to 25 minutes; they won’t burst and will have great grill marks. After they’re done, throw them in a pot with a couple of beers, maybe some water, lots of onion, fresh chopped garlic, some black peppercorns, and some mustard seeds. Let simmer 15 minutes to an hour. Perfect football Sunday chow.

CHEFBUCK insists that German brats need a German beer like St. Pauli Girl. Start a cabbage braise with vinegar, coriander, and beer. When half done, put your brats in and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Take the brats out and quickly grill them on high heat to get grill marks.

Board Link: Bratwursts in beer-What beer?

Green Peppercorns

Being less pungent than the black variety, green peppercorns have plenty of uses. Simply combine with black ones for grinding or use for a steak au poivre. MMRuth found a recipe for a green peppercorn vinaigrette on the Food Network’s website. mitchell25418 is going to try a blue cheese burger with green peppercorns from a recipe on Epicurious. Keramel says steak with mustard and green peppercorns was lovely using this recipe, also from Epicurious.

Board Link: Peppercorns

Rib Cooking Tips

jboeke is on a mission to eliminate rib heartbreak. Good intentions, plenty of good advice on technique, and still his ribs are nearly inedible and inevitably trashed.

Chowhound answers are diametrically opposed in the classic standoff: to boil or not to boil.

maisonbistro is on the boil ’em side, claiming these ribs are a hit every time. After boiling for five minutes, slather with barbecue sauce and let stand in the fridge for a day. Cook in a foil package, and turn the heat up at the very end for crispy outsides. “Do that, and then come and tell me they were crap.”

woodburner takes the low and slow route: Boiling ribs “is a high crime against swine.” Dry-rub the ribs, then cook low and slow at least two and a half to three hours. Wood chips that create smoke (in a foil pouch on a gas grill) are essential to penetrate the meat. Fuser agrees—no boiling; long and slow over indirect heat is absolutely the only way to get great ribs.

GastronautMN offers an ingenious détente: Cook the ribs over coals, wrap in foil, and throw in a cooler. The insulation will keep hot stuff hot, so the ribs will continue to cook to total tenderness. Great for cooking corn in the husk, too. You can finish on the grill for some char marks. Now that’s easy.

The debate rages on … you pick.

Board Link: Need EASY Rib Cooking Tips

On Conch

How do you prepare conch, besides in conch fritters?

phneale offers conch salad, cracked conch (pounded to tenderize it), and a classic tomato-based conch chowder. Recipes can be found here and here.

Board Link: Conch

Turn My Boyfriend Into an Okra-Lover!

Chowhounds converge to convert a boyfriend from the dark side of okra hate.

WendyBinCT offers a battered fried okra after she quotes Indiana-born journalist Roy Blount Jr.’s poetic tribute:

“String beans are good, and ripe tomatoes,
And collard greens and sweet potatoes,
Sweet corn, field peas, squash and beets—
But when a man rears back and eats
He wants okra.”

Here’s an excellent recipe for fried okra.

1 pound okra (about 24 pods)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
4 to 6 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
1/4 cup oil

Wash okra pods. Trim away and discard the stem end and tip of each pod. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a bowl, combine buttermilk (or egg) and hot pepper sauce. Add okra and stir until all slices are well coated. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, and cayenne. Use a slotted spoon to lift okra slices from buttermilk, draining well, then add okra to cornmeal-flour mixture and toss lightly to coat. Pour okra into a sieve and shake off excess cornmeal.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Test the pan for correct heat by placing 1 slice of okra in the hot oil. If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough. Place the remaining okra into the skillet. (It may be necessary to fry the okra in batches.) Allow the okra to fry 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or perforated spatula, turn gently. Continue to fry, 6 to 10 minutes total, checking and turning as needed until okra is quite brown and very crisp. Place 2 or 3 crumpled paper towels in a serving bowl. Transfer okra to paper towels to drain.

As an alternative to frying, bake the coated okra. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Arrange okra on rack and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.

You can roast uncoated okra, too. mimilulu says roasted okra is “wonderful and not slimy at all.” Start with the smallest okra you can find. Larger okra tends to be woody, which won’t roast well.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or spray, add okra, and season to taste. Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and toss. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until okra is browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

And what doesn’t taste better with bacon—even okra?

bkhuna offers tomatoes, okra, and bacon. Fry chopped bacon. Remove the bacon bits from the pan and set aside. Fry sliced okra in the bacon drippings with chopped onion. When the onion starts to color, add chopped canned tomatoes. Add a little salt and pepper, and simmer until tender. Serve over rice.

And then an okra-potato hash that’s converted mudster and his Midwestern peeps: Dice a few red potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Sauté in a nonstick pan in olive oil with onions and garlic, just as you would make home fries. Jalapeños or serranos are a good addition. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and, if you desire, cumin. When the potatoes are brown and the onions nearly caramelized, remove them from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan thoroughly. Toss sliced okra with cornmeal and sauté in moderately hot olive oil. (Transfer the okra over to the pan in a slotted spoon, so you don’t dump excess cornmeal into the oil.) Season with the same mixture of salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin. Cook until golden on both sides. You want the oil to be hot enough to pan-fry the okra. If the okra cooks too slowly, it’ll start to steam—and that means moisture, which in turn means slime.

Once the okra is browned, add the potatoes and onions back to the pan and mix thoroughly.

Board Link: Help me turn my boyfriend into an okra lover

On-the-Go Breakfast

Your assignment: good ideas for breakfast that are easy to make, can be eaten on the run or at the office, and don’t include oatmeal or peanut butter or yogurt. Chowhounds came through with plenty of suggestions from complex to as simple as buying a muffin from a good bakery.

Eggs lead the way in endless variations: Frittatas and quiches can be stored and transported easily, reheated or eaten at room temperature, and, most important, offer a template for the creative use of appealing ingredients. Jennalynn makes miniomelets in greased muffin tins with beaten eggs and chopped-up veggies and meat. Wrap in tinfoil, refrigerate, and microwave at work. Lemonii constructs egg sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, mayo, spinach, and tomatoes on whole wheat bread.

Others offer variations on bagel-egg-avocado sandwiches; quesadilla constructions; pita with chicken or tuna; lavash with cream cheese, lox, onions, and tomatoes; or burritos made ahead with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese, and salsa and frozen. If you have a toaster at work, try sliced hard-cooked eggs on buttered toast.

Plenty of Chowhounds break their fast with neither eggs nor sandwich inventions. Emme suggests cottage cheese and salsa or salmon croquettes, frozen and ’waved, or couscous salads with seasoned rice wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, cipollini onions, basil, and currants.

Board Link: Breakfast–Easy, On the Go

Vegetarian Rosh Hashanah

lucyis wants to celebrate the holiday with delicious vegetarian fare.

rruben1 offers an autumnal bounty of root vegetables served over Israeli couscous. Marinate diced root vegetables, sweet potatoes, and other veggies you’d like in wine vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Roast in a baking dish at 350°F for one hour. Serve over couscous.

chicgail offers up the love that is kugel. Blend sour cream, cottage cheese or yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, a small diced onion, Tabasco, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Mix the blend with cooked small egg noodles. Pour the mix into a casserole and top with Parmesan cheese and paprika—smoked paprika if you want extra flavor.

Miamicooks extols vegetable-stuffed cabbage. Sauté inner cabbage leaves until soft and flexible. Stuff with rice, tofu, garlic, celery, onions, raisins, or any other veggie combo that tickles your palate. Braise in a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce. Serve with rice and remember your grandma.

Board Link: Any vegetarian faves for Rosh Hashonah?