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Cook's Illustrated Crispy Chicken Breasts

165F for safety, 180F for palatability. Especially if the thigh includes bone and skin

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

How many at home dishes have you truly mastered?

Just One: gumbo. I can practically make it in my sleep and I can;t think of a way to improve it any further. Everything else I make has room for improvement.

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

CCK knives are expensive now. Are they still worth it?

My trusty ol' vegetable cleaver is a Shi Ba Zi. I would say it is about 70% as good as a CCK. It takes a great edge but does not hold that edge for very long. I have to sharpen it up every couple of weeks. The CCK I have used seem to hold their edges for much longer.

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Cook's Illustrated Crispy Chicken Breasts

I strongly feel that chicken white meat should not go above 150F. You are taking a calculated risk if you do this, but I think it's worth it for juicy white meat.

Dark meat on the other hand, especially drumsticks, needs to hit 180F to render fat and break down the tendons. I find thighs which have been cooked to 165 to be rubbery and fatty.

Feb 26, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Bones for chicken stock

Yes chicken feet make the difference between a good stock and a great one. I cut them up across the knuckle so they release more gelatin into the liquid . This makes a stock that gels at room temp on a cool day.

Food storage Russian roulette: what's your riskiest food safety gamble that went okay?

I once helped a friend prep chicken tikka kebabs for a cookout. He bought the chicken at a local discount ethnic megamart. When we opened the wrapper, we were hit by a villanous, eye-watering stench of biblical proportions. This was a stink with the stopping power of a .357 magnum. The methane odor was so strong that the wives in the living room (at least 50 feet away) started trying to figure out who had farted.

My appeals to basic food safety went unheard because my friend was too cheap to throw away the meat. We cut up that disgusting chicken, rinsed it with white vinegar and marinated it in yogurt to created some of the most delicious kebabs I've ever had. Credit where credit is due, to my cheapskate friend. I was genuinely surprised when there were no casualties among the dinner guests.

Bones for chicken stock

I seldom have enough bones to make stock at any given time, which is why I stock up in the freezer until I have enough. It usually takes me a couple months to save up enough bones for a really good batch of stock.

I second the recommendation to check out Asian, Latin and other ethnic markets. The Polish market near me has a big grab bucket of free soup bones with every purchase.

What are you lusting after?

There is a crack perpendicular to the edge which extends inward 1/4". I tapped the folded-over metal back into place with a hammer and went over it with a sharpening stone. Now the crack appears as a hairline and there's a bit of roughness to that section of edge, but it still works. I'm gonna hang on to this old war horse a little longer.

Feb 20, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Flavorless chicken breasts

Yes, correct. Marinades do not soak all the way through a cut of meat, at most they penetrate only slightly. I would split your marinade in halves. Marinate the raw chicken in half, then cook it. Slice it and just before serving drizzle or brush the other half of the marinade over the meat. This seasons the bland inside of the chicken breast. Of course you should make sure your marinade is not too salty or strong for this treatment.

Feb 19, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Soup Noodles-Chinese

Hi, the ones I buy are in your second picture, on the tray with a green wrapper. I have personally never noticed a soapy or alkaline taste when cooking them in broth. Maybe I'll try cooking separately to see if I notice a difference.

Feb 19, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Soup Noodles-Chinese

Madeliner, this is not "real" recipe. Rather it's a lazy man's soup noodle that I make when I come home from work. In a big noodle bowl, drop in a couple leaves finely chopped napa, a handful of mung bean sprouts, thin sliced raw beef (like hot pot beef), sliced herbs (scallions, cilantro, thai basil), and a spoonful of chili oil. Boil up a pan of water and season to taste with miso paste and Vietnamese beef base. Drop in a bundle of wonton noodles and cook no longer than 40 seconds, make sure to spread them out so they don't clump. Pour soup and noodles into your bowl, stir it up and let it sit for a bit to cook the meat and vegetables. If you are feeling really ambitious, stick a couple fried eggs in there too.

What are you lusting after?

Like an idiot, I used my beloved 6 year old vegetable slicing cleaver to tackle some frozen chicken bones. I ended up putting a nasty crack in the edge and now I am mourning the damage to an old friend. My #1 wish is for the crack to somehow be magically repaired.

If we're talking about wishing for a new item, I would like a Chinese restaurant grade mega-burner and industrial range hood to match.

Husband Coming from 3 months stay in China; What to cook .

I studied abroad in Beijing for 3 years, and the foods I missed to the point of obsession were:

Taco Bell
Totino's frozen pizza
Italian salad dressing
American Chinese food like General Tso's Chicken
Medium rare roast beef and steaks
Fresh baked bread
Certain vegetables - Peas are hard and corn is mushy in China. Not like our sweet peas and corn.

Your option 2 sounds good, with plenty of cheese and beef in the lasagna, and fresh baked garlic bread.

Asian Frozen Dumplings: Are They Equivalent to Microwaveable Frozen Dinners?

I dunno if this is true, but I see frozen dumplings as being healthier than other frozen foods. They seem less processed, and the ingredients are all more recognizable. My family used to make dumplings from scratch and freeze them for later, and the store-bought frozen dumplings came out pretty much the same as our homemade ones.

We usually had them for Sunday lunch when everyone was too lazy to cook. The alternative was to make instant noodles with a bunch of meats and vegetables added in, or to go our for fast food.

ISO, Boneless Pork Loin Recipes

Cut it into matchsticks, then marinate in a mixture: 2 parts soy sauce and 1 part Chinese cooking wine, a spoonful of cornstarch, a pinch of white pepper, a sprinkle of sugar, and a drip of sesame oil. Now you have a versatile meat that's ready for stir fries with the vegetable of your choice. Try it with bamboo shoots and sliced wood ear mushroom.

Feb 09, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Cool discoveries in Indian/Pakistani food stores? Tell us

I love the produce section at my local Indian market. Bins and bins of multicolored chiles. Bright purple taut-skinned eggplants. Firm, crispy unblemished scallions. Everything is high quality and super fresh there.

Of course the spice section is amazing, but even the "non-Indian" spices are great. I bought a packet of ground black pepper which is more fragrant than anything I've tried from a typical grocery store, at 1/2 the price. It's even better than fresh ground peppercorns.

Trying to duplicate take-out lo mein

Hello, in theory you are right, but in practice it doesn't really work out. When I add even small amounts of food the wok cools down and doesn't recover temp. Also, the burner heats in a ring shape which means the very bottom of the wok doesn't get enough heat while the sides are scorching.

The aluminum saute holds the heat better and spreads it more evenly, so hot spots are less of a problem.

Feb 02, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Trying to duplicate take-out lo mein

I wanted to revisit this thread as I now have gotten my home cooked lo mein to where I want it (geez has it really been 7 years...) It is as close to the take-out version as I can get without having the super-hot restaurant burner. You'll need:

NOODLES: 1/2 lb fresh lo mein, the refrigerated yellow ones with flour on em.
VEGETABLES: carrot, celery, scallions, napa cabbage, bamboo shoots, all cut into thin matchsticks. Also mung bean sprouts.
MEAT: marinate thin sliced chicken breast for 20 minutes in soy sauce, cornstarch, white pepper, xiaoxing wine, sugar.
BROWN SAUCE: 3 tbsp soy, 3 tbsp oyster sauce, a splash of water/chicken broth, 1 ½ tbsp sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic, a small knob of minced ginger, 2 minced thai chiles, white pepper to taste, drip of sesame oil, pinch of cornstarch. Mix together and set aside.
COOKWARE: I use an aluminum saute pan because my carbon steel wok is too thin for use on a home stove burner. The thicker aluminum saute holds and distributes heat better and the straight sides allow me to toss the food in the pan.

1) In another pot, start boiling water. The lo mein gets boiled for no more than 1 minute. Remove noodles and rinse under cold water, then sprinkle with vegetable oil.

2) In the saute pan, heat a splash of vegetable oil until it just begins to smoke. Briefly cook the marinated chicken until barely cooked through, then set the pieces aside. Then vegetables go in this order: carrots, bamboo shoots, celery, scallions, napa. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

3) Add the meat back in. Cook for 1 more minute, then deglaze with a splash of xiaoxing wine. Tip the pan over the burner and try to get some of that flame into the pan when the wine is sizzling.

4) Push the meat/veg over to the side and add the noodles. Let the noodles sizzle on the bottom of the pan for a bit before mixing everything up. Drizzle in the sauce and toss to evenly coat. Turn off the heat and mix in the sprouts (which will wilt slightly in the residual heat). It comes out pretty close for a home cooked version.

corn starch vs flour for coating before frying?

Corn starch is a bit crispier than flour, but if you want best results fro a single-layer fry coating then rice flour is the best.

Got a new pizza stone. What else can I use it for?

I have a big Lodge cast iron pizza pan that serves as a pizza stone. I leave it in the oven because it helps to regulate temperature as some have said already. I've also cooked naan on it, using this recipe:

The home oven can't get as hot as a tandoor, but cranking it up to 550F and using the pizza pan as a heat sink gets you pretty close. The naan turned out great baked directly on the hot metal.

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

Soft tortillas only. Two corn tortillas stacked up, cooked on the griddle, piled with meat and garnished with onion, cilantro and lime. OR, a flaky handmade flour tortilla filled with pork and bean stew.

The crunchy taco shell is a fundamentally unsound concept and makes no sense as a handheld food item. It is perfectly designed to shatter at the first bite and deliver a payload of red Mexi-grease down your shirt front.

Favorite "Seasoning Salt"? Is This Regional?

Another vote for Chachere's here in Illinois. Really nice balanced flavor for milder meats. Very good under rubbed under the skin of a roast chicken. It's my go-to rub for meats if I'm too lazy to make up a spice rub from scratch. Plus it comes in that e-z-shake jar, no need to pinch it out with your fingers, prevent cross-contamination, etc.

Don't use it as a general Cajun spice blend though, it is too salty for that. I put way too much into a gumbo one time... not going to make that mistake again.

Ghost Pepper Wings at Popeyes

I fell for the marketing and tried these. They taste just like the regular Popeye's spicy chicken, but with heavier breading. I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind taste test.

Jan 14, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Chains

What do you put in your chicken stock to make the most flavorful soup?

Yeah cut them in half so the bone ends are exposed to the water, then toss both halves in.

Jan 08, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

What do you put in your chicken stock to make the most flavorful soup?

I agree. Stock made with chicken feet gels at room temperature, there's no comparison to a regular stock. I get packs of chicken feet at the Korea Mart, cut them through the thick part of the knuckle, and simmer in water with just a pinch of salt and splash of rice vinegar. Makes a rich, cleanly flavored stock that can be adapted to any recipe.

Jan 07, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking

Using a steel screw driver as a honing rod?

I'm not sure I understand the purpose of a honing rod to be honest. A hone is supposed to straighten any overhanging burr on a knife, correct? I just do that by lightly dragging the edge backward along the stone when I'm done sharpening. Or, I use any handy hard surface. I think the screwdriver would work at least as well as an actual honing rod.

Jan 06, 2015
RealMenJulienne in Cookware

Healthiest Chinese Restaurant Choices?

I feel like the Chinese (southern) method of eating is generally a healthy one, and it's not necessary to single out just one dish. Set out a pot of clear broth soup, a couple stir fried greens, a meat dish and maybe a fish. The meat dish can be oily and salty but you're not eating a plate of it, just a little at a time to flavor the rice in your bowl. Using chopsticks slows down the meal so your brain has time to feel full. Then finish with a bowl of soup to fill in the spaces.

What's wrong with turkey?

I didn't like turkey until I moved out, learned how to cook and started making my own. Very cheap and versatile meat source. The turkey is also a very efficient protein producer in terms feed-to-meat ratio, something we all should be thinking about. I buy several during holiday sales, cut them apart and freeze them for later. Legs go into stock, thighs get smoked or braised, and breasts get oven roasted.

Take one skin-on turkey breast and slather it with Walkerswood jerk paste. Roast or smoke it at low heat until the internal temp just hits 150F. Chill and slice for the best sandwich meat you'll ever taste.

What to do with fresh mackerel?

The local Korea Mart has good Atlantic mackerel so I cook it quite a bit. My go-to method is to rub with salt, stuff the cavity with scallions and lemons, tie it up with butcher's twine, then grill it whole over charcoal. Serve with lemon wedges

Chinese rib soup (pai gu tang)

Heh, I think we already had a discussion about Szechaun peppercorn. I can't stand it so it will not make an appearance.

I will definitely do the skimming step. Not because I think it's worthwhile (waste of time in my opinion) but because I will have relatives chastising over my shoulder if I don't.

Does anyone ever put red carrot in this? Definitely non traditional but it might look nice with the daikon and cilantro garnish.

Dec 22, 2014
RealMenJulienne in Home Cooking