TipsMake use of some of the below list of tips we find very useful in the kitchen. We are sure that you guys all have some great tips too, so please email them to us so we can all benefit!
The perfect casserole
Stews often start with frying as this starts off the cooking process which allows the ingredients to give off flavour and soften. When it comes to meat and poultry this is a very important stage as browning the meat creates a rich, savoury flavour. For successful browning, ensure that you thoroughly heat the fat before adding the meat or poultry.
The key to successful stews and casseroles is slow cooking. Reducing the cooking time results in tough meat and less flavour. Cook the dish on a gentle simmer or in a low oven – once everything is in the pot, it can be simply left on its own to cook unattended for about 2-3 hours. A good quality, heavy casserole dish is well worth the money as it conducts heat efficiently and lessens the risk of burning the food.
Most cuts of meat or poultry that are suitable for stews and casseroles are the cheapest cuts. Lamb shanks, beef cheeks, chicken thighs are the ones that produce the tastiest results. Similarly root vegetable or pulses are also the best for slow cooking.
Another secret to adding flavour to your dishes is to cook the stew a day or two ahead of time. Once cooked, set it aside to cool, then refrigerate until required, heating it through thoroughly before serving. This allows the flavours to develop and mature making it an ideal choice for entertaining. Another advantage for this is that the fats will set and form on the top, which can then be skimmed off easily to cut down the fat content.
Always allow your steaks to come to room temperature before cooking as this will help heat the meat cook evenly during the cooking process.
Dry the surface of your steak before salting and cooking so that it caramelises all over.
When you season the meat, the salt will begin to draw moisture away from the surface of the meat. So pat it dry, season and dry again if necessary and only season it when you are ready to cook it, not before.
As a general rule, first cook on high heat and then finish your meat on low heat. Ideally use a digital meat thermometer to check for doneness and always take your meat out 5 degrees before it reaches the desired temperature, and leave to rest. Whilst resting, meat absorbs its flavour and juices and continues cooking itself for at least 15 minutes.
Always use a sharp knife to cut your meat – a dull knife will smash the meat and a serrated knife will tear it! A sharp blade will ensure even slicing and will help retain the juices.
Before eating your meat always drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt over it – the oil will spread the flavour across the palate while the salt, hitting your tongue first, will make you salivate and ensure a deep flavour experience.