For a super fast dinner, pound your meat before grilling or sauteing it: Thinner pieces cook quickly (check out Food Network Magazine‘s Pork Scallopini Salad). Pounding also breaks up the connective tissue in tougher cuts, making them more tender. Place the meat between pieces of plastic wrap, and pound to an even thickness with the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pinor a small heavy skillet.
If you’re making a sauce, soup or stew with meat, a layer of fat will probably appear on the surface. To remove it, position your pot halfway off the burner: The fat will migrate to the cooler side. Then gently lower a ladle onto the surface of the fat (try not to disturb the surface too much or you’ll stir the fat back in). Better yet, if you have time, chill the dish: The fat will congeal and you can scoop it off.
When you’re making burgers, meatballs or other ground-meat dishes, combine equal parts of beef or pork with a leaner meat like turkey or chicken. You’ll save on fat and calories without sacrificing flavor and texture. We mixed ground beef with ground turkey for Food Network Magazine‘s Light Shepherd’s Pie — if you go all-turkey, you lose that great beefy taste.
Removing the stems from leafy greens like kale and chard is an oddly satisfying task. Here are two methods:
1. Hold the end of the stem in one hand (left image) and run your knife down both sides of the stem (away from you) to shave off the leaves.
2. Pull the leaves together (right image) and grab them with one hand. Then rip out the stem with the other hand.
(Photographs by Melissa Punch/Studio D.)
Foil packets make great braising vessels for the grill. We formed this oversize foil bowl to hold the beer-braised potatoes and shrimp (pictured above).
1. Stack 2 large sheets of heavy-duty foil. Place the solid ingredients in the center.
Don’t be scared off by a recipe that calls for fish sauce. It smells pungent, but you won’t detect any fishiness in your dish — just a rich, salty, almost meaty flavor. Fish sauce can be used in more than just Asian dishes: Add a splash to tomato sauce or whisk some into salad dressing. Just remember that a little goes a long way.
(Photograph by David Turner/Studio D.)
Make your own flavorful broth for poaching chicken or fish by adding vegetables and herbs to simmering water. It’s called a court-bouillon (or “short broth”), and you can customize it with your favorite flavors (we used garlic, scallions and fennel fronds for Food Network Magazine‘s Poached Chicken with Garlic-Herb Sauce, pictured above). Don’t throw out the liquid when you’re done poaching: Store it in the fridge and use it like regular chicken broth.
You don’t need a special basket to grill vegetables. Just slice them on the bias to expose more surface area — this prevents pieces of skinny vegetables like zucchini or yellow squash from falling through the grate, and it lets more of the vegetable come in contact with both your marinade and the grill.
(Photograph by Justin Walker)
by Jacob Schiffman
I came across the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu during a sushi bar crawl almost 10 years ago. It’s really tart, with a complex, tangy flavor that’s part grapefruit and lemon, part orange, and all delicious. You can use the rind, the juice or both.
The first time I had yuzu, it added sharp tartness to a mayo-based sauce for hamachi (yellowtail). I then started seeing it in condiments for tempura-fried foods, dipping sauces for french fries at bars, on specialty cocktail menus and even in fancy pastries. Chefs ask for it all the time on Iron Chef America — while they mostly ask for the yuzu juice, in my experience as a buyer for Food Network, I’ve seen everything from yuzu marmalade and yuzu mayo to yuzu candy and yuzu vinegar. And sometimes (rarely) I’ve seen fresh yuzu in markets (pictured above) in the late fall through early winter. No matter the format, I think you’ll be seeing a lot more yuzu in the future.
How do you yuzu? Tell us in the comments below.
Meatballs are like burgers: The more you mess with the meat, the tougher they’ll be. Mix the ingredients with your hands until just combined — don’t overwork. And skip the browning; try poaching the meatballs in a broth or sauce, like we did in Food Network Magazine‘s Greek Meatball Stew. They’ll absorb the liquid and turn out extra tender.