Monday, October 19, 2009

Rice

There are three major "types" of rice that one might encounter in the world and be interested in cooking with. From the short grain risotto and sticky sushi rice to long grain jasmine and basmati rice. There are also specialty types like the black forbidden rice as well as many many many different cooking methods for each variety. the main similarity is that all rice requires some kind of liquid to cook initially. after that though the possibilities are endless. any way in this edition i'm going to talk briefly about the three types of rice and then move on to the most basic method of making steamed white rice. This is because once you have steamed white rice there are a number of things one can do with it. Such as congee the traditional chinese rice porridge, or fried rice.... or crispy rice pancakes or even the custardy mexican dessert form of rice pudding.

type #1

long grain rice, jasmine is the most common has been hulled and has less starchy than risotto rice or sushi rice which makes it light an fluffy when steamed. This is a great type of rice for classic steamed rice, pilaf, soups and pallea.



type #2

short grain rice, arborio is a very common varity. Short grain rice is used for sticky rice and when stirred vigorously while cooking renders the creamy risotto found in italy.



type #3

wild rice or un-hulled rice. this rice commonly known as wild rice is served mainly steamed or in pilaf. It requires more water and a longer cooking time to produce the same product as type #1



today though were going to start with the basics.

steamed white rice.

Ingredients:

jasmine or basmati rice.... here i have used jasmine
water
salt and pepper (optional)
butter or oil (optional)

step one:

put dry rice in pot. don't worry about how much cause the extra is easily used up the next day in fried rice etc. etc. (cooked food products that are properly cooled and stored will last for 7 days in the fridge) although a cup of rice is probably more than enough for one person.

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next add one and a half times the amount of water as rice... so if you used a cup of rice you will need a cup and a half of water.... or use the chinese method like i do. With the tip of your finger resting on top of the rice add water to cover your first knuckle

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next add any salt pepper or oil you may want to add or just leave it plain. Turn the fire on high and wait untill the water reaches a simmer. Once this happens put a lid on the pot and turn the flame down as far as you can and set a timer for 20minutes.

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once the timer goes off kill the fire completely and let the pot sit with the lid on for an additional ten minutes. If the rice isn't done in 10 minutes just leave the lid on and let it sit for another 10 minutes!

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fluff with a fork and BOOM.... perfectly cooked steamed white rice. Trust me this method is full proof, cheap, delicious and the finished product is endlessly versatile.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Roast A "Split" Chicken

Hello all. I know it's been a while since this was updated but i've been busy with the move from my grubby tiny kitchen in the west village to a much nicer better stocked upgrade here in williamsburg. This week were going to cover the basics of taking a whole chicken and turning it into something edible and delicious. Many people say roasting a chicken is one of the hardest things to do properly and i agree but like with all other things of the artistic discipline it just takes practice and experience to master.

today we start with turning your oven on and preheating it to 375 degrees. Next you will need a whole chicken... i have chosen a bell evens air chilled chicken because they are "organic" and of better quality than most standard "perdu" type chickens. one of the things to look for when buying a chicken is the skin color. Most organic chickens and in my experience better tasting chickens have a whiter color to the skin and pinker flesh. Chickens feed on hormones and more mass produced chickens tend to have the more common yellow skin. Also you will want to look and see how the meat it self has been handeled.... are the bones broken? is the flesh torn up or punctured in several places? My chicken looked like this when removed from the package


i have removed the giblets from the cavity and cut the wings off at the joint. the giblets should contain the heart, gizzard, liver and neck of the animal. the neck and wings should be reserved and frozen for making stocks and broths and the heart and gizzard are good for frying in a light flour dust as the Mexicans at work have shown me.

Begin by placing the chicken on a cutting board neck down with the back facing you like so:


tuck your knife under the tail and score down each side of the spine remembering to get between the shoulder blade and the spine.





after the score is made you need to follow the lines again and cut through the bones removing the spine completely. once this is done lay the chicken out flat skin side down and remove the breast bone. Next use your knife to cut the chicken into two pieces slicing all the way through the skin. this is a technique known as "natural seam butchering" this is a process where one butchers portions of meat according to muscle group.... which basically means that you cut an animal into smaller pieces by following natural lines of sinew and tendon without actually cutting into the grain of meat. Once this is done you can cook your chicken or as i like to do it cut the leg away from the breast effectively quartering the chicken and remove the excess bone from the thigh. This last bit can be kind of tricky so i have made a video of the process here:


after this process you should have four neat clean pieces


next coat each piece in salt and pepper and get a pan large enough to accommodate all four pieces very hot. When you add your oil (canola is preferable) to the pan is should begin to lightly smoke from the heat. you will need about 4 tbsp of oil. Next add your chicken. Allow enough time on the burner for the pan to recover the loss of heat from the cold chicken hitting the oil and then place on the FLOOR of your 375 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until all the juices protruding from the chicken run clear. The internal temperature should read around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find a lot of fat rendering from the chicken don't be afraid to pull it out after ten minutes or so and strain off the excess. Do not turn your chicken. You want to roast it all the way on the skin. This is the best way to get a nice deep golden brown color.



After your chicken is cooked remove it from the oven and place on plate or resting rack. Resting the meat is important. As meat cooks the heat forces all of the juices to the center of the roast. If you cut your meat immediately after removing it from the oven the all the juice will spill out and you will be left with a dry chicken. Let cooked meats set for 5 minutes for every pound of raw flesh. My chicken was a 3.5 pound chicken so i let it set for around 15 minutes before cutting into it. At this point you can just dig in or you can chop your chicken into smaller pieces like I have done.



you can see the chicken in the top left corner..... tomorrow when i have more time i'll go over what i have done with the veggies as well.

thanks for reading and as always feel free to ask questions. feed back helps me make this site better!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ramen Broth and Stock Basics

Hello everyone. This week we are covering the mixed ramen broth of pork and chicken. The basics used in this broth will transfer over into all other stocks as well from duck to veal to pork to brown chicken.

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 1/2 bunch thyme or about 12 sprigs
  • piece of fresh ginger about twice the size of your thumb
chop all your veggies into large chunks like so:



  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 2 pounds pork ribs or feet



first using a heavy cleaver chop you wings and ribs into small 2" pieces and place in a heavy bottomed stock pot that can hold 5 qts and cover with cold water


turn the heat on high and bring to a simmer. when the water reaches the boiling point the blood, coagulants and impurities in the bones that will make your stock cloudy will be drawn out.


once a boil is achieved immediately strain the bones and rinse the remaining coagulants off of the pieces of meat. Place the blanched bones back into the cleaned stock pot, add the chopped vegetables and thyme (if making a normal stock at this point you can also add black pepper corn and bay leaves) and cover with 1" of cold water. Bring the water to a very slow simmer and allow to cook for 16 to 18 hours. When making a stock with only chicken bones you can reduce the cooking time to 8 hours or when making a stock with something heartier like veal bones you can increase the cooking time to as much as 20 hours.


I like to use a crock pot because i can let it run unattended for long periods of time without fear of burning the house down. Now while your stock simmers remember to come back every so ofter to check on it. Skim any foam that has risen to the top and add water as needed. I do this every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours of cooking and once again right at the end of the cooking process. After your stock has simmered long enough it should have a strong flavor, a slightly tacky feel on your fingers from all the gelatin simmered out of the bones and a good golden color.


now you need to strain the liquid into a large vessel when i do this i pour the entire contents into a large strainer and allow to sit for up to 30 minutes to make sure gravity has pulled all the moisture out of the meat and veggies with out having to press on them. Pressing the solid matter can cause excess impurities from the meat to be pushed into the clean stock below.


after this process you should be left with around 6 cups of nice strong ramen broth or stock!