Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cooking School Day 6: Meat

Although I intended to take one class per day, following the schedule TheKitchn had set up, I ended up getting busy with a temporary full time decorating gig and got sidetracked. But I'm back to finish my cooking lessons.

I have to admit, meat intimidates me. I never quite know which cut is good for what. So I rely on my butcher or what's called out in recipes to know what to buy and how long to cook. This lesson was somewhat helpful, but for me, I'd have to spend a lot more time on this subject to really learn more about the different cuts of meat...and I will. Just not now.

What I took away from this lesson were two very cool tips:

1) Cook perfectly tasty meat, pork chops or chicken everytime with a quick brine.
2) How to make sauces

Quick Brine in 6 easy steps:
1) Mix 4 tablespoons of any type of salt with 4 cups of water.
2) Place your meat in a shallow dish.
3) Pour the brine over your meat until it's submerged completely.
4) Add aromatics like peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme.
5) Let it sit for 15 minutes up to 4 hours. If you're going to let it sit for more than 30 minutes, place it in the refrigerator.
6) Pour out the brine, pat dry and cook as per your recipe.

I tried this last night and I must say it worked. Tasty and moist grilled chicken. I used basil leaves, peppercorn and fresh rosemary from my garden :-) I love saying that...or typing it! One day I will have a good sized herb and vegetable garden. For now, it's basil and rosemary...but it's a garden and it's I get to say "fresh from my garden" :-)
Brining my chicken for 30 minutes

Making Quick Sauces:
You know when you go to a restaurant they always have these delicious sauces over meat that just makes the dish even more boyfriend loves these! They're actually very easy to make.
1) Clear the pan you cooked your meat in, but don't clean it! Pour out all fat or cooking oil except for 1 tablespoon.
2) Saute a minced shallot in the fat for about 3 minutes. You can skip this if you don't like shallots, or substitute with mushrooms.
3) Pour in 1/4 cup of wine, beer, bourbon, or alcohol of your choice and let it come to a quick simmer, scraping the bits from the pan.
4) Reduce the alcohol by half.
5) Pour in 3/4 cup of vegetable, beef or chicken stock and let it come to a rapid simmer.
6) Reduce by about half, 3-5 minutes.
7) Pour in 2 tablespoons of butter or a splash of cream and whisk until dissolved.
8) For a thicker creamier sauce, whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch pre-whisked in 2 tablespoons of water. Let it simmer for a few seconds until thickened.
9) Pour the sauce over your meat and presto!! 
I intended to make a sauce last night to, but since I grilled the chicken on the barbeque grill outside I didn't have a pan with bits stuck on it to use. I thought maybe I'd scrape the grill grates and use that, but it was dark and cold outside and just didn't want to take the time to do that. But when I do try it, I will come back and update this post.

Now go impress your guests with a quick and delicious sauce and tell me all about it please, either here or on our Facebook page!

Until next time!


PS: I guess this isn't much of a Meat lesson recap...