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.
Thin cuts of pork can dry out quickly, so try giving them a quick brine first. Pierce chops, cutlets or other thin cuts with a fork, then soak in heavily salted cold water for 15 to 30 minutes; drain and pat dry before cooking. You can add vinegar, sugar, herbs or other flavors to the brine, too. Just remember to go easy on the salt when you cook the meat.
Give it a try with this recipe: Pork Chops With Bean Salad (pictured above)
Timing is everything when you are salting vegetables. To get crisp, browned veggies like the mushrooms in Food Network Magazine‘s Skillet Chicken and Ravioli (pictured above), salt them at the end of cooking — after they’ve browned. To get soft, saucy vegetables like caramelized onions, add salt early on: It draws out moisture, which helps break them down.
There are so many good choices in the canned tomato aisle now. We used fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles to spice up the Greek Meatball Stew in the May issue of Food Network Magazine. Fire-roasted tomatoes also add a great smoky flavor to marinara sauce. Or buy canned cherry tomatoes and crush them in a saucepan for a slightly sweet, chunky pasta sauce.
Next time you make burritos, try these construction tips.
1. Layer the fillings horizontally across the lower half of your tortilla (not the middle), starting with absorbent ingredients like rice. Put the cheese against something hot like meat or beans so it will melt.
2. Fold up the bottom of the tortilla and tuck it under the filling.
3. Fold in the two sides.
4. Tightly roll up the burrito.
(Photographs by Christopher Testani)
Combine a soft cheese, like goat cheese or ricotta, with chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, grated garlic or a favorite condiment to make a quick sandwich spread. (Food Network Magazine mixed goat cheese with hot sauce and pepitas for the Ham and Goat Cheese Sandwich pictured above.) You can also use the spread on crostini, or dollop it onto hot pasta for a fun, fast dinner.
Swirl a few tablespoons of cold butter into a pan sauce before you serve it — you’ll be amazed by how it improves the texture. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them in a few at a time, then remove the sauce from the heat and cover to keep warm. If the sauce gets too hot, the butter can separate and make the sauce oily. If this happens, just whisk in a few tablespoons of water.
(Photograph by Christopher Testani)
by Vince Camillo
What’s the next best thing you never ate?
The staff of Food Network Kitchens might know. We see (taste and smell) ingredients and products just before they make themselves known to the national palate. Sometimes one of our on-air chefs brings them into our kitchen, sometimes we find them during restaurant dinners or in grocery stores, at home and away. Each month we’re going to share one with you, along with tips or recipes. And we know that many of you devote a good amount of time to exploring, tasting or simply getting dinner on the table, so let us know what you find that might just be the next best thing we never ate.
If you’ve ever eaten a vacuum-fried banana chip (or any vacuum-fried fruit or vegetable), you may have been staring into the bag of the next big thing. Though the bag you remember was likely empty, because once you eat one of these puffed little disks of pure banana essence, you’ll realize that you can’t stop — the most important indicator of a successful snack.
Although it’s the last course of the meal, pie is first on the list of non-negotiable Thanksgiving musts. This Thanksgiving, we enlisted the help of some pie experts — straight from Food Network Kitchens — to develop and share some of their best-loved pies. Whether you’re a purist or feeling adventuresome, we have a pie for everyone — including something gooey, something savory (and cheesy!), an easy version of a French favorite and a deep-fried take on a classic.
Even though everyone settled on a different pie, all of our developers were inspired by personal food memories they wanted to recreate on their Thanksgiving tables.
With her Upside-Down Pear Cranberry Tart, Director of Culinary Editorial Heather Ramsdell sought to simplify the apple tarte tatin she struggled with as a culinary student in Burgundy, France. “I messed up a lot of them!” she admits, “but each one was an invitation to try again.” Her efforts were well worth it and her streamlined pear tart is decidedly “not fussy. It’s a great pie for people who don’t like baking — and it’s got hot sugar in it for the caramel so there is a moderate thrill factor.” Heather added a few more touches with cranberries and ginger, for spice. Her best tip? “It’s really good for breakfast.”
Food Network Kitchens celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day by seeing how many of the sandwiches they can stack at once — click the play button on the video above to watch.
Tell us in the comments: How many ice cream sandwiches do you think were stacked before the tower toppled?
To add a little more fun to your summer barbecues, bring along some sandwiches of the sweet variety. All you need is either store-bought or homemade cookies and several pints of ice cream in your favorite flavors — then scoop away! Read Squeezed in the Middle for ice cream sandwich recipes and inspiration.