Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #88
At the end of this week, in the United States, we will be celebrating Fathers' Day. My dad died almost 38 years ago, and I still dearly miss him. He was short in stature, legally blind without his eyeglasses, and had only an 8th-grade education, but he stood tall, saw the beauty and blessings of life, and was the wisest man I have ever known.
What Did I Learn From My Father?
” If you try you might lose, but if you never try you will certainly never win.”
“God is Number One, friends and family are Number Two. Making yourself Number Three makes you a winner.”
“Do everything as though you were signing your name to it.”
And, Never Give Up!
And so each day I try, I love, I work hard, and I will never ever give up.
So, Let's Get Started
Let's open today's mailbox (adventure). If you're an old friend (love), you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.
Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.
I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses; it happens every Monday (work hard). Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy (never give up).
How to Dry Pineapple
A few weeks ago (actually in Q&A #77) Pamela mentioned dehydrated pineapple. Is that possible to do without a dehydrator and in a humid area?
Mary, I'm presently working on an article about drying beef (specifically jerky, but there are others too) and am learning that you don't need a dehydrator to successfully dry meats and produce.
Krissy (Self Proclaimed Foodie) has a wonderful recipe for drying pineapple slices in the oven. She uses a rimmed baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The oven is set to 175 degrees F. and drying takes about 8 hours.
Question About Brining and Marinating Pork Chops
Several years ago I wrote an article on how to achieve the "Perfect Pork Chop." It has been the most popular of all of my 400+ topics, with almost 30,000 visits. Last week I received a question on that article from Anonymous.
I want to marinate my chops in an Asian marinade. Do I do that after the brine?
In case you haven't read the article, here is a brief explanation of what brining is and why you want to do it.
Once upon a time brining was for pickles. But about a decade ago people started to brine their Thanksgiving turkeys. And guess what? It was no longer a given than turkey would be dry, stringy, and tasteless. When brined, that turkey became as plump as Great Aunt Matilda.
Now, I will admit that I have never brined a turkey--I typically roast a 25 pound monster, and finding a vessel large enough to brine that behemoth is not an easy task. But brining a couple of pork chops? I can do that.
Brine is a salt dissolved in water. Two simple ingredients that can make a world of difference in your cooking.
The salt in brine not only seasons the meat, but it also promotes a change in the meat protein structure, reducing overall toughness and creating gaps that fill up with water and keep the meat juicy and flavorful.
I explained to Anonymous that the brine is a low-sodium solution that makes the proteins in the meat relax. After brining, rinse your chops, pat dry, and then marinate them. Since they are already "tenderized" you won't need to marinate them for very long.
And, here is how to brine pork chops (or anything else for that matter):
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups cold water
- 2 pork chops, 1 inch thick
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Instructions for Brining
- Combine salt, sugar, and 1 cup of the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until salt and sugar and dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Add remaining 2 cups of water to the salt/sugar solution. Stir to combine and reduce heat.
- Submerge the pork chops in the salt solution. They should be totally covered by the brine. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Each week we learn about a food item that you probably toss into the trash bin without a thought or a care—until today that is. Let's find out which discards can be re-used and re-purposed.
“Save the bones!” is a commonly heard after-dinner phrase in my house. I have a zip-lock freezer storage bag for each type of bone that might appear after dinner (chicken, turkey, or beef). When a bag is full, it’s time to make stock. There are several ways to do this.
If You Don’t Have the Time to Babysit
- If you don’t have the time to fuss over a stockpot, place the bones straight from the freezer into your crockpot.
- Add some vegetable aromatics (carrots, celery, onions) and enough water to cover everything.
- Set on low and let cook all day (or all night).
If Time is No Object (and You Can Fuss n the Kitchen)
- However, if you are spending the day at home and have the luxury of fussing about in the kitchen, you need to roast those bones, add vegetables and then roast them some more. Then break out the stockpot. Deglaze, season with herbs, add water and simmer, simmer, and simmer some more.
- The author of the blog ServedFromScratch does it right, and her recipe is here.
Chicken or Turkey Stock
Dan Gritzer (he works with Kenji at “Serious Eats”) has dissected (pardon the pun) how to make the perfect poultry stock. His article and step-by-step photographs are here.
Some of you might be asking "why should you make your own stock?" You can buy it in the store.
To that, I ask, "Have you ever enjoyed an amazing meal at a restaurant?" I’m not talking about a fast-food joint or the local Denny’s or I-Hop. I mean a relaxed atmosphere, beautifully-plated foods with rich flavorful sauces. When you get home you try to recreate that meal, but try as you might you can never achieve that same luxurious flavor and mouth-feel of that silky sauce.
And this is why—restaurants don’t rely on broth from a can. They make their own stocks, stocks made from roasted bones which release their juices, adding viscosity (gelatin) for that rich, sensuous experience. Homemade stock may take some time, but it's one of the easiest things you can cook and it will reward you with a future of amazing tasting soups, stews, and sauces.
Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.
Here's a link to that Table of Contents.
I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.
Let's do this again next week. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.
© 2019 Linda Lum