When cooking animal proteins, there are three techniques I regularly utilize to create very wholesome yet simple meals. And if for whatever reason you forgot to make a reservation at that special restaurant you and your partner have been meaning to try, maybe it's a sign you should be spending the evening cozy at home in your kitchen laboratory instead. In this post, I will be sharing a few very influential videos, techniques, and recipes that might help make your night!
As controversial as many view him, I always thought Gordon Ramsay was an incredible cook. He describes his techniques very well and he never wastes time in the kitchen.
In this frenetically filmed video, Ramsay shows a quick recipe that imparts incredible flavor to poultry. In my four real years of cooking experience, I still haven't found a more flavorful recipe for chicken, although grilled and basted with fish caramel is a close second.
If your house or apartment doesn't have the greatest ventilation, you might consider purchasing an odor-absorbing splatter guard for when you are sauteing animal proteins. Not only do these cheap devices prevent you from getting burned, but they make clean up easier and really do cut down quite a bit on the aromas produced by high heat cooking. I found mine at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I don't care much for the crab and new potato salad in this recipe but the fillet cooking technique applies to every fish I've handled so far. For this, you will need a sharp knife, and although most home cooks don't have their own sharpening tools or stones, they usually have honing steels. Here's a primer on how to use that valuable tool:
The important distinction to remember here is that when you sharpen your knife, you are literally stripping your blade of material to create a new edge. Honing simply realigns the "teeth" at your blade's edge.
Straight forward, but that's how it should be! The only thing I would add to this technique is to throw in a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a sprig or two of rosemary/thyme (which will crackle upon hitting the oil as it releases its essences) shortly before the butter goes in, taking care to not burn the garlic.
Anthony's Vegetable Puree Theory
To accompany any of these techniques, you might want to cook a grain (barley, quinoa, pasta) and make a seasonal vegetable puree which I typically begin by slicing 2-3 garlic cloves thinly and toasting until a light golden brown in a medium sized pot. I deglaze my garlic with about half an onion sliced thinly. I add salt and spices at this point, fry a little while longer on high heat, and reduce to low-medium to start sweating the onions. Cook with a lid until onions and garlic are tender (15-20--stirring in between).
Small dice your vegetable of choice (go to your farmer's market to find the best ones) and sweat along with your onions and garlic, as well as with an herb such as thyme, until very tender. If you love onions and garlic as much as I do, this technique works to bolster the flavor of your primary vegetable. It shouldn't taste powerfully of either onion or garlic.
Your heat should stay low the entire time. This is a delicate process, and oftentimes, low and slow is the best way to produce flavor. Puree mixture in a blender and thin to your preference utilizing, ideally, juice of the same vegetable, i.e. (for a carrot puree, utilize carrot juice, with perhaps some orange juice for acidity), or vegetable stock, or water. The trick is to create layers of flavor, and in doing so, creating nutritional depth. Adjust the final product while still warm with salt, pepper, and acid.
And since a delicious breakfast should follow a delicious dinner and so on, here's Jacques Pepin, my favorite French chef, cooking both a country-style omelette and classic French omelette.
Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for your support!
Anthony, G & F