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De-Boning a Whole Chicken

De-Boneing and stuffing a whole chicken is from  Anna Maria Volpi   at www.annamariavolpi.com

Learn How To De-Bone A Whole Chicken

De-Boneing and stuffing a whole chicken has become a tradition for my family for Thanksgiving.
Before stuffing the chicken we must remove the bones.  Most chefs slice the chicken open to access the bones, then sew it back as with the video later in this blog.  The technique I’m going to describe here via Anna Maria Volpi different and most spectacular.  Her technique is a little more elaborate.
The bones are removed from the opening in the bottom of the chicken, without cutting or breaking the outer skin.  The result is the original chicken’s shape!
She learned this technique from her butcher father.  It is not easy, but worth doing for a special occasion.
The best result is obtained by using a chicken, about 5 – 6 lbs.

Widen The Neck

Widen the neck opening until you find the junction of the wing and the rib cage. Cut the ligaments with a sharp knife to separate the wings.
Using your fingers and a knife separate the wishbone.  After freeing the wishbone,

Cut The Cartilage Holding The Breastbone

Cut the cartilage that holds it to the breastbone.  Insert the hand in the neck opening, and separate the meat from the bones all around the rib cage and backbone.  Turn the chicken over as necessary.  Use a knife to cut the white cartilage from the skin.

Separate The Rib Cage

Separate with a knife the rib cage from the skin and the breast meat where necessary.

Remove The Wing Bones

Free the wing bones and remove them.  Now all the the bones of the rib cage and the backbone are fully separated from the skin and can be removed from the bottom opening.

Separate The Skin From The Legs

Cut the skin around the end of the legs to separate it.  From the bottom opening scrape the meat from the thighbones and remove them.

You Are Ready To Stuff The Bird

The chicken is now completely boned and ready to be stuffed.
Thank you Anna Maria for such great information – jughandle

The following is a great video on the normal way to de-bone a chicken

Marinades, Brines and Rubs

Marinades

Marinades are flavor-infusing liquids best suited for tougher cuts of meat. In addition to herbs, condiments, spices, and oils, marinades typically include an acid, like lemon juice, wine, vinegar, even dairy.

Adding sweet ingredients to the marinade can help form appealing caramelized, crispy coatings on grilled meats.  The acids in the lemon juice, wine, vinegar, butter milk, etc will actually cook the protein in the meat by chemical reaction.

Always marinate in the refrigerator. And remember, if you’re basting with a liquid in which raw meat marinated, do not apply it during the last three minutes of grilling.

The good news:

Chicken, turkey and fish will take on marinade flavors much more quickly and effectively than red meats.  Fish only need to marinate for 30 minute to an hour.  Chicken and turkey 2 to 3 hours.  Red meats need at least 24 hours to work at all.  The more acid in the marinade the better and quicker it will work.

The bad news:

Marinades only penetrate the meat 1/8 inch at the most no mater how long you soak them.  Think of marinades as a sauce and don’t waste money on expensive ingredients for your marinades.  If you use sugar the sugar will tend to burn on the surface of the meat.  If you like charred meat, fine.  Don’t use alcohol either.  The alcohol will only cook the surface of the meat sealing it from further penetration of the other flavors.  If you use salt in the marinade then you are actually brining your meat.  See Brines below.


Brines

Brines are salty solutions that help lean meats hold their moisture so they stay juicy and tender during grilling.Brining is a popular method for preparing poultry, particularly turkey, and lean meats, like pork, that tend to dry out on the grill. Sugar, spices, and herbs are sometimes added to the liquid as well.Soak meats in a container large enough to submerge the meat completely without allowing it to float in the solution. Store in the refrigerator.

Before grilling, rinse brined meat to remove excess salt and dry it with paper towels.

Remember high school chemistry? Yeah, me neither.  But I do remember something about osmosis.  But I remember that in osmosis through a semi permeable membrane like the flesh of the meat, water or other liquid will flow from a lower concentration of salt to a higher one, back and forth until the concentrations are equal.  So first water flows out of the meat and salt flows in which starts to break down the proteins in the cells.  Additonal water will flow into the meat as the protein breaks down causing the meat to be more moist.

The brine can also be used as a vehicle to carry other flavors into the meat with the dissolved salt.  Hence the sugar (to balance the salt) and other flavors that will dissolve in water.

Obviously, there’s more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.

How Stuff Works has a short article describing osmotic pressure with a diagram that may be helpful to visualize the water flow.

What has happened is that through brining, we’ve caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.

Always start with a cold brine.  Refrigerate or ice the meat while brining to prevent bacteria from forming.  Brine for 2 hours per pound of meat and cover the meat with a solution of 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water.  The other stuff like sugar and herbs are just bonus flavors.

Rubs

Rubs are seasoning mixtures rubbed on meats before grilling to add spicy or smoky flavors. The best rubs enhance the flavor of the meat without being overbearing and are often blends of strong and mild spices and herbs. When oil or another wet substance is included, it is called a wet rub. A little moisture helps the rub adhere to the meat.

Rubs are an easy way to infuse the surface of your grilled meats with exciting ethnic flavors–from Cajun to Korean.

Setting aside rubbed meats for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight allows the spices to permeate the meat as much as possible.

Rubs are most effective when used on slow cooking meat as opposed to a fast grilling method.  Slow cooking allows the meat’s juices to blend with the rub while high heat grilling only burns the rub on the surface.

 

Good luck with your flavoring methods.  Here at the Fat Farm we almost always use either McCormik’s lemon/pepper or just plain salt and pepper.  We let the meat speak for it self – jughandle


Beef Wellington – How to make it tonight

Want to make a killer presentation to your guests tonight try this –

Yes, it looks extremely difficult, but it isn’t.  Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin covered in a layer of prosciutto ham, a button mushroom paste then wrapped in a coat of puff pastry.  Easy.  This isn’t a soufle, you’ll get this right the first time.

At the Store

You are going to make Beef Wellington in a green peppercorn sauce with fingerling Potatoes and warm wilted winter greens.

Purchase:

for the mushroom paste

for the beef
  • 1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 pound puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator – keep it cold
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Minced chives, for garnish
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 box beef stock
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup green peppercorns in brine, drained, brine reserved
Directions:
for the Mushroom paste
  • Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • This paste should be fairly dry so as not to make the pastry soggy
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
for the beef
  •  Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes if you want your meat med rare.  Cook 2 -3 minutes longer for med.
  • Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board.
  • Overlap the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef.
  • Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of the mushroom paste.
  • Season the surface of the paste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
  • When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the mushroom paste covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together.
  • Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.
  • Set the beef in the center of the pastry upside down and fold over the longer sides, brushing the pastry with egg wash to seal.
  • Trim ends if necessary then brush the ends with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving the scrap ends to use as a decoration on top if desired.
  • Top with coarse sea salt.
  • Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash to brown, then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If the beef is a little low remember it will continue to cook while resting.  It is more important to not burn the pastry.
  • Remove from oven and rest 20 minutes before cutting into thick slices.
  • Garnish with minced chives
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • Add olive oil to pan after removing beef.
  • Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then,
  • off heat, add brandy and flambe using a long kitchen match. Please keep your hair and face out of the flame
  • After the flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half.
  • Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard.
  • Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

 How to Roast Vegetables

 

 

How to Make Pie Dough (and why)

This is one of the basic skills necessary to become a good cook.   Learn this and you are on your way to greatness.

Why

Why, you ask.  Because I told you to…. Oh, sorry I digressed to my teen years and flashed on my father.  I’m thinking that we all should be able to make a killer pie crust from scratch with out looking at a recipe  in case we are unexpectedly on a cooking show?  No, how about, because it is way better than store bought dough in a tin pan and scratch pie crust “makes” a pot pie great, or a cherry pie amazing, or a hot apple pie melt in your mouth.  But I’m going to go with “Because I told you to…..

How it should end up

Are you used to your pie crust tasting like freezer burn?  Does it crumble into tiny pieces when you touch it with a fork?  Is it the last thing sitting on every one’s plate?  If you answered yes to any of these then you have been using store bought pie crust.

Your crust should be flakey not dry and it should melt in your mouth and enhance the flavor of your pie.  If you are thinking that every attempt you’ve made at your own pie crust has turned out tasting like cardboard, then you are trying too hard.

Method

Pie crust is only flour, butter, salt and water.  The rest is up to you.  The only way to screw this up is by overworking the dough or using ingredients that are too warm.

side bar – flour by its very nature contains a protein called gluten.  When the flour gets wet with any liquid, those glutens link together to form chains.  Those chains are great when you make bread because the more you work the dough, the more chains of gluten proteins are formed and those chains trap gases in the dough making it rise during cooking.  Bread flour has even more gluten in it making the bread dough rise more easily.  We don’t want our pie crust to rise at all.  We want it to be flaky and tender, not chewy and soft.  So…… don’t work the pie dough more than it takes to mix it together.

The butter – If you bake, you might soften your butter before you incorporate it into the batter.  DO NOT soften the butter with a pie crust.  In fact you want your butter as cold as you can get it and still cut it.  I have been known to slice my cold butter then put it in the freezer before cutting it into small bits that I barely distribute by mixing  thought out the  dough.  Your pieces of butter should look like small yellow peas in the flour.  These pieces of cold butter will melt and expand when cooked to make your pie crust flaky.  So chill all of your ingredients and the bowl before making your dough.

Ingredients – to make a double pie crust, or two single crusts, use

  • 2 1/2 cups of all – purpose or pastry flour
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter cut into pats
  • 1 t of salt or a little less, not more
  • 1 cup of ice water – you won’t need it all
Directions-
  • Chill all your ingredients and the work bowls in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
  • put the flour salt and butter pats into a chilled food processor bowl
  • Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas 10 -15 pulses- they don’t have to be consistent – less is more
  • Pour about a tablespoon of the ice water through the feed tube of your processor while pulsing once or twice
  • Depending on the conditions in your kitchen you will now need anywhere from a few tablespoons to 1/2 cup or more of the ice water
  • open the lid and squeeze some of the flour mixture in your hand.  If it sticks together you are done.  If not add a tablespoon or two of water and test again
  • when it “just” sticks together
  • dump the work bowl onto a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work bench
  • bring the sides of the plastic together and squeeze the dough
  • if at any point the mixture seems to be warming up or the butter is melting, put it back in the freezer for a few minutes
  • repeat bringing the plastic up from several sides until the dough comes together
  • Wrap the dough ball in the plastic tightly and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
  • You are now ready to roll out your dough to make the crust
  • dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn out the dough
  • roll it out until it is just less than 1/4″ thick and about 2 inches bigger than your pie pan
  • use scissors or a knife to trim the extra dough
  • then pinch with your thumb and forefinger to crimp the edge

You can now finish your pie and feel secure in the fact that you are now a “scratch” baker – jughandle

In the following video the recipe is a little different from mine above.  I don’t use sugar and I use more butter.

 

 

Calories

Are 500 calories of veggies equal to 500 calories of ice cream?

What are Calories?

Calories are a measure of food energy.  In fact there are many different definitions and measurements of calories, but the accepted definition we are looking for is – “the amount of heat it takes to raise 1 measured weight of water 1 degree Celsius.  1 gram of water would be a small calorie and 1 kilogram would be a large Calorie.

To determine how many calories are in a certain food, scientists used to set the food on fire and see how much it warmed a measured container of water.  Now the calorie count is estimated from its carbohydrate, protein and fat content, with each gram of carbohydrate and protein being 7 calories and each gram of fat being 9 calories.  The Calorie we see on our food labels is a large Calorie or the amount of heat it takes to raise one kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

Since none of us have a burner in our belly, our bodies have to convert energy by chemical reactions, mostly oxidation of the carbs, protein and fat we eat.

Calories in = Calories out?

Not so much.  Take carbohydrates.  For every 100 calories of carbs you eat, the body uses 5-10 calories just to digest them.  The difference being 5 and 10 is the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates (remember the Glycemic Index?)  It takes us less calories to break down fat in our body.  But look at protein.  The body needs 20 to 30 calories to process each 100 grams of the protein we eat.

How to Loss Weight?

It would appear that if we ate more protein and less carbs and fat that the body would do our work for us.  Not as much as we’d like.  Just because we put food in our mouths doesn’t mean our body digests it all.  According to Men’s Health Mag ” It passes through your stomach and then reaches your small intestine, which slurps up all the nutrients it can through its spongy walls. But 5 to 10 percent of calories slide through unabsorbed. Fat digestion is relatively efficient—fat easily enters your intestinal walls. As for protein, animal sources are more digestible than plant sources, so a top sirloin’s protein will be better absorbed than tofu’s.”

“Different carbs are processed at different rates, too: Glucose and starch are rapidly absorbed, while fiber dawdles in the digestive tract. In fact, the insoluble fiber in some complex carbs, such as that in vegetables and whole grains, tends to block the absorption of other calories. “With a very high-fiber diet, say 60 grams a day, you might lose as much as 20 percent of the calories you consume,” says Wanda Howell, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Arizona.”

Exercise Burns Calories Right?

Sure, exercise is a great calorie burner, but you need calories to burn more calories.  Exercise will burn no more than 30 percent of the calories you consume.  Again your body is going to help you burn calories.  60 to 70 percent of the calories we burn are to fuel normal body function like breathing, tissue replacement, blood movement, etc.  Then walking, turning your head, lifting your leg, etc, help tremendously.  Take the stairs, not the elevator.  You get the idea.

Don’t Eat Diet Foods

Diet foods are way more dangerous to our bodies than normal, healthy food.  In diet foods, sugars are often replaced by chemicals like sucralose, aspartame or HFCS.  Men’s Health says that a study at the University of Texas found that consuming as few as three diet sodas a week increases the chance of obesity by more than 40 percent.  At Purdue in 2008 a study showed that rats that ate artificially sweetened yogurt eat more calories at subsequent meals.  Eat the real deal and read the label.

To Answer My Original Question

Are 500 calories of veggies equal to 500 calories of ice cream?  You should now be able to answer that question yourself.

Seafood: The Good and the Bad

Most of us are aware of the chemicals and polutants found in the flesh of many of the sea foods we are offered at the store.  But do you know that there are still many “super green” fish and shellfish that we should and can be eating?

Green

What do I mean by “Super Green”?  First of all a SG food must be healthy, and sustainable.  “Farming” or raising these food sources must also be good for the environment and not add to the problems we already face with depletion of our natural resources.

 

Good Fish and Shellfish and Why

  • Albacore Tuna that is Troll or Pole Caught in the U.S. or British Columbia – This fish is only SG if it is troll or pole caught because these methods catch fish smaller than 20 lbs which have a lower continent of mercury and are caught in the colder waters of the US or British Columbia making them higher in omega 3.  The hard part is how to determine if the fish you are looking at meets those standards.  Read the labels or look for Blue Eco Label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). 
  • Mussels and Oysters that are farm raised – These shellfish pack a large amount of omega-3s and oysters are high in iron.  But what makes these SG are that they both feed off the natural nutrients and algae in the water, filtering the water, thus improving water quality.  It is more healthy to eat these shellfish cooked as the raw shellfish, especially from warm waters may contain harmful bacteria.
  •  Pink Shrimp ( wild-caught in Oregon) and Spot Prawns (wild-caught in British Columbia) – Again, look for the MSC-certified  Blue Label sticker.  The U.S. has strict regulations about net caught anything.  The reason being is that nets drag the ocean floors and damage the coral ref which are the habitats of most of the oceans fish.  The best source of shrimp would be from Oregon and the Pacific Northwest where the shrimp are caught in traps  Avoid imported shrimp, farmed or wild net caught.
  • Rainbow Trout (Farmed) – I know it is hard to remember that one farmed fish is bad and another good but again, look for the blue label.  Lake trout are available in some parts of the country but they are very high in contaminants.  Almost all trout you’ll find in stores will be rainbow trout which are raised in freshwater ponds and protected from contaminants being fed a fishmeal diet designed to conserve resources.
  • Salmon (wild-caught in Alaska) – Salmon in Alaska are very well managed.  Their numbers are tracked and monitored to keep from over fishing during a particular season.  Also the natural streams the fish spawn in are checked regularly.  These fish are a great source of omega-3s and have very few contaminants.  Avoid at all costs the farm raised salmon because the pens they are raised in are full of parasites that threaten the entire salmon population, wild and raised.
  • Sardines (Pacific – wild caught) – Here is one you might not have thought of.  Sardines have more omega-3s than salmon or tuna and are high in vitamin D.  They reproduce quickly and therefore are sustainable with the new regulations.

 Fish to Avoid

  • Bluefin Tuna – This fish is threatened.  Because it is still prized for culinary uses it still can sell for over $150,000 per fish.  Bluefins are high in mercury and also carry an EDF health alert. (Environmental Defense Fund)
  • Chilean Sea Bass (also marketed as Patagonian Toothfish) –the sea bass has been prized on menus for years.  That is one of the problems.  These fish can live over 50 years but are very slow to reproduce, thus making them easy to over fish.  There is only one well-managed fishery the is MSC-certified.  Look for the blue sticker.
  • Grouper – These are huge, delicious fish that live to be very old.  Because they live so long they are high in mercury and are also on the EDF health advisory list.
  • Monkfish – this is one of my favorite fish.  It used to be cheap and was marketed as imatation crab and lobster because its texture resembles lobster.  Alas, it too became popular and is now over fished.  Monkfish is making a come back because of strict netting regulation, so look for the MSC label.
  • Orange Roughy – Now here is a fish that, like the grouper, is very long lived but reproduces slowly making it vulnerable to over fishing.  The Roughy can live to be over 100 years old, so it has high levels of mercury and is also on the EDF health advisory list
  • Salmon (Farmed) – as I explained before, the farm raised salmon are raised in pens in the ocean and are tightly packed.  These pens are treated with antibiotics and full of salmon threatening parasites.  Farmed raised salmon are on the EDF list also.
These are all fish that are either over fished are high in contaminates or both.  Go to The MSC certified “fish to eat” page to see pictures and updates on the available seafood.
Tofu – How to Cook With It

The following is what I Think I know about Tofu:

  • It is made from soy beans
  • It comes in 3 textures
  • It has very little flavor of it’s own
  • It is high in protein
  • It isn’t very expensive

Now I’ll do a little research and see just what Tofu really is and how to make a meal out of it.

  • Wikipedia says “Tofu or bean curd[3] is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks.” – I was almost right.
  • It is available in FAR more than 3 textures or varieties – look here
  • It does have a flavor of its own and it isn’t necessarily pleasant – look here
  • It is very high in protein.  In fact 1/2 cup has 10.1 grams of protein where men should have a daily intake of 56 grams. and that same 1/2 cup only has 94 calories.  Compare that to beef-  100 calories of tofu has 11 grams of protein and 100 calories of beef only has 8.9 grams of protein and the same amount of cheese has only 6.2 grams.  One more thing.  1/2 cup of tofu contains 5 grams of fat where 4 oz of beef contains 15 grams of fat.  And Tofu is cholesterol-free – Info comes from here.
  • I’m finding that a 12.3 oz package of tofu (about 3/4 lb) is about $1.80 and a pound of cheap ground-beef is at least $2.50 per pound making Tofu a little cheaper than beef.
  grilled tofu

What the heck to do with it?

  • You can fry it
  • You can crumble it up into salads and cassaroles
  • You can Stir-fry with it
  • You can melt it like cheese
  • You can even make dessert out of it
  • It will hold a marinade very well
  • Before using it you should press the excess liquid out of it
  Tofu Stir-fry     Tofu Pot pie

Which kind to buy?

  • Buy the firm or extra firm type if you are substituting for meat in a dish
  • Buy the soft or silken type if you are adding it to a drink or dressing
  • Buy flavored tofu if you are looking for a specific flavor, like bacon tofu.

  Various tofu dressings

Look for recipes to follow soon.  I’m curious about this stuff.  Please share your tofu recipes or stories with the Farm – Jughandle

 

 

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