You might not think of poultry when you think of tough cuts of meat, but duck legs can be very tough. Anything older than 6 months is considered a mature duck — as opposed to a duckling, which is what you'd look for if you wanted to prepare a roast duck. You wouldn't braise a duck breast, however. Duck breasts are best prepared with dry heat cooking methods, like sautéed, pan-fried or grilled.
As with most braised items, it's important to brown your duck legs before you braise them. This adds flavor and color, and it lets the excess fat render out of the legs. Here's a video that will show you how to braise duck legs.
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The way that's done is by scoring the skin, which means just making little cuts part-way through the skin, in a cross-hatch pattern. This allows the fat to render out, leaving the skin nice and crispy.
A large cast iron pan is great for pan-searing duck breasts. The cast iron gets really hot, which is useful for getting the heat to penetrate the breast and help melt out all that fat. And the bigger the better — you don't want to overcrowd your pan. Check out this video on how to cook duck breasts.
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It's a pretty good clip, but I should point out that the guy in the video calls for four egg yolks and a single cup of oil. Note, however, that a single egg yolk can actually hold a cup of oil by itself — though there are risks involved: a single-egg mayonnaise is not very stable. Two egg yolks, though, should be plenty for a single cup of oil. Maybe it's just me, but I think four egg yolks will produce a mayonnaise that's a bit too on the eggy side.
It's just a matter of taste, though, and everything else about the video is pretty sound. You might also enjoy this video on making flavored mayonnaise. And here's more about making emulsified sauces:
- What is an Emulsion?
- Hollandaise Sauce Recipe
- Béarnaise Sauce Recipe
- Beurre Blanc Sauce
- Garlic Aioli Sauce
Pastry cream is basically a form of custard, which means that it's very similar to crème brûlée — cream, eggs and sugar. It's the addition of starch (usually flour, corn starch or a mixture of both) that makes a custard into a pastry cream.
In this video, the lovely Elaine Lemm, About.com's Guide to British Food, shows how quick and easy it is to make vanilla pastry cream. And here are a few more resources to do with desserts and baking:
- Pastry Cream Recipe
- Choux Pastry Recipe
- Cream Puffs Recipe
- Chocolate Eclairs Recipe
- Crème Anglaise Recipe
- Pastry Dough Recipe
- Puff Pastry Recipe
And by the way, for my readers outside of the United States, for whom the word biscuit means something else, I'm referring to the kind of biscuits which are a type of quick bread, in the same family as scones, muffins, corn bread and so on.
Anyway, if you've ever made homemade biscuits, you've probably rolled out the dough and then cut out the biscuits with a pastry cutter. However, if you're trying not to overwork the dough, rolling out the dough is exactly the wrong thing to do. It turns out there's a better way. Read more about How to Make Biscuits. Also see: Flaky Pie Crust Recipe and Flaky Pie Crust Tutorial Connect with Me: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
Then, the gases produced by yeast or another leavening agent inflate these gluten molecules like little balloons, which is what permits doughs to rise. Finally, when the dough is baked, the gluten hardens, giving the bread its structure.
Gluten provides structure and chewiness, but it's also the only way to create light, airy baked goods. That's because without gluten, breads won't rise. This is why, if you've ever tried gluten-free breads, they're so heavy and dense. They're really just lumps of starch. Read more about gluten.
Also, here's more about flour and baking:
- What is All-Purpose Flour?
- Pizza Dough Recipe
- Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
- How to Cut In Butter
- Easy Bread Recipe
- Dinner Rolls Recipe
- Wheat Bread Recipe
- Buttermilk Rolls Recipe
Pork is divided into large sections called primal cuts. Pork primal cuts have all kinds of peculiar names, like the Boston butt, which is nowhere near the butt, and the picnic shoulder, which you would never bring to a picnic. These primals are then broken down further into individual retail cuts — the roasts and chops you buy at the store.
Anyway, here's a great video that illustrates the various pork primal cuts, including where each one comes from, along with some ideas for how to prepare each one. You'll even find out what to do with the head. And here's more about cooking pork: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
"More precious than gold, this powerhouse grain has now been re-discovered by the world marketplace because of its delicious flavor and high nutritional value."
Now, a pound of quinoa will set you back about five bucks, while the price of gold is currently around $1,300 an ounce. Thus, quinoa is demonstrably not more precious than gold. I'm not sure why they even brought gold into it. I mean, while they're just making stuff up, why not platinum? Diamonds? Bitcoins?
On another occasion, I noticed that the cooking instructions on a package of quinoa would, if followed, produce a soggy and altogether dreadful mass of mush. Which is surprising, because the correct method is really simple, and after all, quinoa's been around for 5,000 years, so it's not like no one's had a chance to perfect the recipe.
Anyway, if you want to know all about quinoa, including the right way to cook it so that it turns out light, fluffy and slightly crunchy, see: What is Quinoa?
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Beef Bourguignon is a rustic beef dish made by braising beef in red wine and beef stock, along with button mushrooms and pearl onions. The traditional wine is Burgundy, which is where the dish gets its name.
Steak au poivre is another bistro classic in which a steak is crusted with cracked black peppercorns and then pan-fried in butter and served with a creamy sauce flavored with cognac.
Check out the recipes for Beef Bourguignon and Steak au Poivre. And here's more about cooking meat: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest
Hard boiled egg are used in all kinds of recipes, like in salads or sandwiches, and they're a nearly perfect snack on their own. Unfortunately, making hard boiled eggs is one of those obscure skills that few people seem to have mastered. How long do I boil it? Do I start with cold water, or do I boil the water first and then drop in the egg? And why are they so hard to peel?
Fear not, faithful reader. I've got a simple technique that will help you make a perfect hard boiled egg every time.
One thing to know about a good hard boiled egg is that you should never see a greenish ring around the yolk when you cut it open. When you see that it means the egg is overcooked. It's the sulfur in the egg that causes that greenish hue, and it appears when the egg has been overheated because it was boiled for too long. It doesn't smell amazing, either, as you've no doubt experienced at one time or another. With this technique, you can say goodbye to those greenish, overcooked egg yolks.
As for boiled eggs being hard to peel, that's a function of how fresh the egg is, not how you cook it. Fresher eggs will be harder to peel. So if you've got some older eggs in your fridge, those would be a better choice for making hard boiled eggs than ones you just grabbed from the henhouse. Check out: How to Hard Boil Eggs.
(Oh, and about that roasted turkey. Check out this roast turkey breast.)
Finally, here are a few more articles to help with your Easter preparations:
- How to Roast a Leg of Lamb
- Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe
- Baked Ham with Fruit Glaze
- How to Glaze a Ham
- Deviled Eggs Recipe
- Easter Egg Safety Tips
- Holiday Meat Safety