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Jason Adamson

Jason Adamson

Jason lives in Osaka Japan and has an infatuation with raw fish, ninjas and sake. Originally from Australia he has a Masters in Communications and a Le Cordon Bleu Masters of Gastronomic Tourism. He also owns a very old Nintendo.
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How to Thicken Mashed Potatoes – A Quick Guide

how to thicken mashed potatoes

You’ve planned your family’s favorite dinner for tonight; baked salmon with creamy mashed potatoes. But disaster has struck, and the mashed potatoes are looser than you’d hoped for. In other words, runny! However, do not despair, because it’s not difficult to learn how to thicken mashed potatoes.

The humble potato is a delicious and nutritious vegetable. It can be cooked in many different ways, and can be served as a side dish accompanying the main course, or can even be a meal in itself if baked and filled with different types of fillings.

The type that always gets the most votes in our house is mashed potatoes. This food is so versatile and can be served as an accompaniment to so many different foods. It goes well with almost anything, is easy to make, and potatoes are usually quite budget-friendly. Therefore mashed potatoes make a frequent appearance on my table.

Although mash is relatively simple to prepare, there are things that can go wrong if you are not careful. One of the most common problems is that your mash turns out to be too runny or soggy. So what can be done to solve this? How do you thicken mashed potatoes?

Why Are Mashed Potatoes Sometimes Too Runny?

There are two reasons why your mash may be too runny. Let me elaborate.

  • Not Draining the potatoes properly

The first problem is that in order to cook the potatoes, you have to boil them in water. During the cooking process, the potatoes absorb a lot of the liquid.

It is essential that once cooked you drain the water from the potatoes very well. I advise pouring them into a colander and allowing them to stand for at least 15 minutes, giving them a good shake every 5 minutes, to allow all the water to drain fully. 

Once the water has drained completely, wrap the potatoes in a clean, absorbent kitchen towel and pat dry. This will help to remove the last remaining water and will avoid the mash being too runny.

  • Adding too much liquid

In order to get light, fluffy, creamy mash, most recipes advise adding either milk or cream, or sometimes both, to the potatoes when mashing them. Sometimes too much milk or cream can make the mash soggy and runny. 

The best way to avoid this happening is to add the liquid very gradually as you are mashing the potatoes until you get just the right creamy consistency.

If either of the above scenarios has caused your mash to be too runny, don’t toss it in the garbage. I can help.

There are two general ways to thicken mashed potatoes: either by adding a thickening agent or by removing surplus moisture. Let me share a few tricks with you to save the day.

How To Thicken Mashed Potatoes With Corn Flour Or Flour

Both wheat flour and cornflour act as thickening agents. Cornflour will give better results, but ordinary flour will also work. You may just need to use a little more. 

If you merely add dry flour or cornflour to your mash, it will turn into a glue-like, lumpy mess. The trick is to make a smooth paste with a thick, liquid consistency.

Place a tablespoon of cornflour, or 2 tablespoons of regular flour, in a cup and add a little slightly warm milk. Mix it well until there are absolutely no lumps, and add gradually to the mash, stirring it in very well. It should thicken up beautifully.

If the mash is still too soft, repeat the process until it is thick enough.

See Related Article: How to Thicken Clam Chowder – A Guide

How To Thicken Mashed Potatoes With Other Ingredients

how to thicken mashed potatoes

It is possible to thicken mashed potatoes by adding a little dried milk powder and stirring it in carefully. Adding some grated cheese also works well, and adds a delicious flavor to the mash.

The best trick of all is to add a little instant dried potato powder and stir well. This will bulk up the mash and thicken it perfectly.

How To Thicken Mashed Potatoes By Removing Surplus Moisture

Heat causes evaporation, so if you heat the runny mash, some of the excess water will evaporate, and the mash will thicken. If you heat the mash in a pot on the stove, you run the risk of the bottom burning.

Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Place the runny mash in an uncovered ovenproof dish and put it in the oven. Check and stir it every 10 minutes, until it has thickened.

The same thing can be done by putting the mash in the microwave in an uncovered dish and heating it, opening the microwave and stirring every 2-3 minutes until moisture has escaped.

By following the above tips for how to thicken mashed potatoes, you will never again have to throw out that runny mash.

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How to Reheat Salmon – A Quick Guide

how to reheat salmon

Salmon is such a firm favorite in my house that I seldom have any leftovers when I make it for a family meal. So it’s not surprising that I almost never have to worry about how to reheat salmon. 

However, on the rare occasion when we do have a couple of pieces left, it is useful to know how to reheat salmon in such a way that it does not dry out and become rubbery.

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be prepared in many different ways. I love salmon baked in a tasty sesame seed and teriyaki sauce. It is not only delicious, but it is also ridiculously easy to prepare. At the end of this article, I will share my own special recipe with you.

In addition to being simple and easy to make, salmon is known to be exceptionally healthy. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and is a highly nourishing source of protein. Salmon is filled with Omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to be good for heart health.

With all of these benefits, it is no wonder that salmon has become a very popular dish in recent years. If you cook salmon and want to reheat it afterward, there are numerous ways to do this.

How To Reheat Salmon In The Oven

When reheating salmon, the biggest problem is that it can dry out very easily. Dry salmon is hard and unappetizing, so this is what you want to avoid. The best way to do it is to reheat the salmon in the oven. 

Preheat your oven to 300° Fahrenheit. Take an ovenproof dish and spray it lightly with olive oil. This will prevent the salmon from sticking to the dish. Place the salmon in the dish, in a single layer.

Cover the dish tightly with tin foil and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Your salmon should be heated through, and still nicely moist inside. Take care not to let your oven get too hot, or to leave the salmon in for too long. These will cause your salmon to get dry.

Remove from the dish carefully with a lifter, taking care not to let the salmon flake and fall apart.

How To Reheat Salmon In The Microwave

When reheating salmon in the microwave, you need to do it in stages, turning it after a minute and checking frequently if it is hot enough. It is best not to use the microwave on its highest power setting. This will cause the salmon to become over-cooked. 

Place the salmon in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a lid or a plate. This will prevent splattering and making a mess in the microwave. Switch on the microwave for one minute, on 50% power. After a minute, turn the salmon and put it back for another minute. Keep checking until it reaches the desired temperature.

How To Reheat Salmon In A Pan On The Stove

how to reheat salmon

Reheating salmon in a pan on the stove is a quick and easy method, but it is not ideal, as the salmon can burn and get overdone very easily. You need to watch it carefully to make sure that this does not happen.

Use a non-stick pan if possible, and spray with a few drops of olive oil. Place the pieces of salmon in the pan and heat it over a medium flame, turning it after 2 or 3 minutes. It should become heated through after only a few minutes on each side.

See Related Article: How to Make Capacola

Ridiculously Easy Baked Salmon Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 filleted side of Norwegian salmon, skin on, cut into pieces

¼  cup soya sauce

¼  teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper

Sesame seeds

METHOD

Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Spray an ovenproof dish lightly with olive oil. Place salmon pieces in the dish, skin side down, in a single layer.

Mix the soya sauce, teriyaki sauce, and lemon juice together in a cup. Brush the salmon generously with this mixture. Drizzle lightly with honey and sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Don’t overdo the salt, because the sauces contain salt. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. 

Cover tightly with tin foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil, spoon juices over the salmon, and put it back in the oven uncovered for another 20 minutes. Serve the fish steaming hot with mashed potatoes and veggies of your choice. 

This is so scrumptious that you probably won’t have leftovers, so you will not have to worry about how to reheat salmon.

Check Also: How Much Salt to Add to Unsalted Butter

How to Freeze Chili – A Quick Guide

how to freeze chili

Are you the kind of person who loves the tangy flavor of spicy foods? Foods that almost make your nose run and your eyes water? If so, you probably love chili and may want to know how to freeze chili.

On a freezing cold winter’s night, there is nothing better than tucking into an inviting bowl of steaming hot food. Most people love things like soups and stews, and these can be made with all sorts of interesting and exciting ingredients.

Chili is a delicious way to spice up a meal. There are numerous different ways to prepare chili. I love my chili when it is made as a thick sauce, filled with meat and chili peppers. 

Many people enjoy their chili with vegetables instead of meat. But however you like it, if you are a chili-lover, it is useful to know how to freeze chili.

What Are The Different Types of Chili?

There are so many types of chili, and most of them can be frozen successfully. Let’s take a look at the most popular variations of this delectable Mexican dish.

  • Chili Con Carne

Chili con carne is chili with meat. This is almost like a kind of stew, cooked in a pot on top of the stove. The main ingredient is chunks of meat, and it can be made with beef, lamb, or pork. The sauce is made with your choice of chili peppers and is also filled with other hearty ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and beans.

  • Vegetable Chili

Vegetable chili is very similar to Chile con Carne, but without the ‘carne.’ ‘Carne’ is the Spanish word for ‘meat’. So Chile con Carne is chili with meat, while vegetable chili is chili with vegetables, but without meat.

Many people make vegetable chili as a full meal, so they add other types of protein to the dish. Black beans, red kidney beans, white beans, and tofu are all popular ingredients to add to vegetable chili.

  • Texas Chili

Genuine Texas chili will truly make your eyes water! It is made only with chili peppers that have been chopped up and cooked together to make a smoking hot sauce. You should not add any other vegetables or beans to real Texas chili.

  • Black Bean Chili

As you will probably have guessed from the name, black bean chili is made with black beans, rather than other beans. It can be made as a vegetarian dish, with other vegetables added, or you can add meat like pork or beef to the chili.

  • Chili Verde

Chili Verde is green chili. As its name suggests, it is made with green chili peppers. Other ingredients are pork, garlic, oregano, and tomatillos.

Tomatillos sound like mini tomatoes, but they actually aren’t. They look like green, unripe tomatoes, with a dry, leafy husk that covers the vegetable. They are a distinctive bright shade of green.

  • Turkey Chili

By now, you are probably getting quite good at guessing what type of chili dish each one of these is. But maybe I have got you a little confused here. Texas chili originates from Texas. So you would think it is safe to assume that Turkey chili comes from Turkey. But No!

Turkey chili is for those people who prefer lean meat to fatty options, so they choose to use turkey meat in their chili. Turkey is actually a very versatile kind of poultry. It is nourishing and healthy, and very low in fat. It is a delicious complement to a chili dish. 

Can All Of These Chili Dishes Be Frozen?

Most of these can be frozen very successfully, by cooling and then placing in the freezer in a plastic storage dish. But I actually prefer to make and freeze my chili sauce separately. I will explain how to do this. Let us take a closer look at how to freeze chili.

How To Freeze Chili

The best way to make many of these dishes is to make your base chili sauce by peeling and cooking your chilies first and then adding the chili sauce to your other ingredients. 

When I do this, I allow the chilies to cook for a long time, so that the chili sauce is strong and very concentrated. You can then always add extra water when you add the sauce to your dish.

When you make the chili sauce, it is useful to make a large batch and then freeze some, so that you have it ready in the freezer and can just take some out and pop it into your pot whenever you feel like a chili dish. 

Can You Freeze The Chili While It Is Still Hot?

No, you should always let the chili cool to room temperature before placing it in the freezer. If it is too warm when you freeze it, it may separate and go all watery.

What Container Should You Use To Freeze Chili?

Let me share a brilliant tip with you. I always freeze my chili in ice cube trays. Try to find trays with large cubes. Once frozen solid, remove the cubes of frozen chili from the tray and place them in ziplock bags. Try to expel as much air as possible and seal the bag well. 

The frozen cubes can also be frozen in a plastic freezer storage container with an airtight seal. 

You can then simply remove as much chili sauce as you need and add the frozen cubes directly to your simmering pot on the stove.

See Related Topic: How Long is Fried Chicken Good for in the Fridge

How Long Can Chili Keep In The Freezer?

how to freeze chili

Freshly made chili can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. It must be packed correctly in order to avoid ‘freezer burn.’ If your chili is exposed to air in the freezer, it will lose its flavor very quickly.

Will Chili Still Taste Good If It Has Been Frozen?

When making any of these scrumptious chili dishes, they will taste just as good after freezing, as long as you follow my suggestions of how to freeze chili.

How Much Salt to Add to Unsalted Butter – A Quick Guide

how much salt to add to unsalted butter

I think most of us have had that incredibly annoying feeling, at some time, of coming home from the supermarket, only to find that you’ve bought the wrong thing. That fabulous lasagne recipe calls for salted butter, and you discover that the butter that you hurriedly grabbed from the fridge is UNsalted butter! So now you will need to work out how much salt to add to unsalted butter.

When it comes to my cooking and baking, I am a huge fan of butter. There is nothing nicer than a cake, or a batch of biscuits, made with pure butter. Sauces like a cheesy sauce for Mac and Cheese, or a creamy garlic mushroom sauce, are also so much better when made with real butter, rather than some oily substitute that supposedly ‘tastes like real butter.’

Butter adds flavor to cooked foods and improves the texture of the dish. Of course, you will all agree that there is nothing to beat a fresh chunk of warm bread, or a slice of hot toast spread thickly with lashings of melt-in-your-mouth butter.

Why Do They Add Salt To Butter?

Salt adds to and enhances the flavor of the butter, but this is not the only reason why the big dairy manufacturers add salt to their butter. Butter is highly perishable; salt is a form of preservative and it extends the shelf life of the butter. It is also fairly cheap. Adding salt to butter leads to fewer losses from spoilage in store, and butter passing its ‘sell by’ date too soon.

See Related Article: How to Make Capacola

How Much Salt Should Be Added To Unsalted Butter?

how much salt to add to unsalted butter

Most recipes that include butter take into consideration the fact that butter contains salt. The ingredients have been adjusted to allow for this. If you have inadvertently bought unsalted butter, you can still use it in your cooking, but you will need to make some small adjustments to allow for the change.

For every half a cup of butter, which is ¼ of a pound, you should add a ¼ of a teaspoon of salt. This will give you the same amount of saltiness in the taste as if you had used salted butter. 

However, this is not a hard and fast rule. I live by the philosophy that every recipe can and should be adapted to suit your personal preference. Some people love the tangy kick of lots of salt, while others find it unappetizing. A good guide is to taste as you go along. If it tastes too bland, add a pinch or two of extra salt. 

It is worth remembering that salt in excess is not healthy. It raises your sodium level, which can cause high blood pressure. This sodium imbalance puts a strain on the kidneys and can affect kidney function.

When it comes to adding salt to food, moderation is key. When working out how much salt to add to unsalted butter, always work on the premise that less is better.

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How to Reheat Tamales – A Quick Guide

how to reheat tamales

Mexican food is a real treat because it is so unique. Filled with spicy, aromatic flavors, one of my favorite Mexican foods is tamales. When I make them, I usually make extra, so I soon learned how to reheat tamales.

Most people call this using up leftovers. But I invented my own word – ‘plan-overs’. You are probably wondering what plan-overs are. It is food that you have planned to have left over after a meal, saving you time and effort when you need food, but don’t have time to cook.

Tamales are a firm favorite in my house. This Mexican dish can best be described as a scrumptious parcel of food, made of dough that is made from corn, and filled with assorted fillings, such as meat, chicken, vegetables or fish. The whole parcel is then wrapped in either a corn husk or a banana leaf in which it is cooked, but is then discarded before you eat.

So you have had a crazy day, and are so pleased that in your freezer you have those tamales that you made last week. But what do you need to do with them to make them all yummy again?

How To Reheat Tamales

There are numerous methods that can be used to reheat tamales. I will give you simple instructions for each method. These will all work well with both home-made tamales and store-bought frozen tamales. 

Must You Defrost Tamales Before Reheating Them?

Tamales can be reheated from frozen, but it will take a little longer. The end result will be better if you defrost them first, by taking them out of the freezer the night before, and then leaving them to defrost in the fridge overnight.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Steamer

This can be done on the stove in a pot with a steamer basket. Fill your pot with about two inches of water. Put the tamales, still in their husks, into the basket, and place in the pot, making sure that the water does not actually touch the tamales. Try to stand them up, rather than stacking them on top of each other. 

Cover with a lid and steam for about 20 minutes. If your tamales are frozen, it will take about 35-40 minutes. Remove the husks before eating. This method can also be used in an electric steamer.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Pan

Using this method will make your tamales deliciously brown and crispy, but is not as healthy as steaming. This works best for tamales that have been thawed already. 

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and heat over medium heat. Remove the husks first. Carefully lower the tamales into the hot pan and cover, to prevent the oil from splattering. Using tongs, turn every 2-3 minutes until nicely browned and heated through, which will take approximately 10 minutes. Place on a piece of paper towel for a minute to drain the excess oil.

See Related Article: How to Reheat Crab Legs – A Quick Guide

How To Reheat Tamales In The Oven

how to reheat tamales

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Wrap individual tamales in foil and place in an oven-proof dish. Place in the hot oven. Turn the parcels after 10 minutes to ensure even heating. Remove after another 10 minutes and unwrap. This method works well with the tamales still in their husks, or without them. 

How To Reheat Tamales In An Air Fryer

This method will take a lot of the moisture out of your tamales, so it is best to heat them in their husks

Place the tamales in the basket of the air fryer, and set the timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn them over and repeat. If they are frozen when you put them in, you will need about 11-12 minutes on each side.

How To Reheat Tamales In A Microwave

This is the best method if you are in a hurry, but it should only be used as a last resort because it is not as good as the other methods. 

Wrap your thawed tamales individually in a piece of paper towel. Place on a plate in the microwave, 2 at a time, and heat on full power for 15 seconds. Remove, wrap in a new paper towel, turn over, and repeat. You may need to do this 3 or 4 times until they are hot enough, depending on your microwave’s power.

Whichever method you choose to use to reheat tamales, they are bound to be delicious. Cook, freeze, reheat, and enjoy.

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How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken – A Quick Guide

how to reheat rotisserie chicken

You are at the supermarket doing your monthly shopping. Somehow, every month the same food seems to cost a little more. So it’s not surprising that you are thrilled to discover that the deli special of the day is rotisserie chicken, on special at 2-for-the-price-of-1. You would like to stock up and fill your freezer, but do you know how to reheat rotisserie chicken?

I am always budget-conscious when shopping for food, which is why my freezer is my best friend. I like to take advantage of good specials, especially if they are going to save me time as well as money.

On those hectically busy days when you know that you won’t have time to cook, what could be more convenient than having a ready-cooked chicken in the freezer? Rotisserie chicken is a healthy and tasty meal, but the secret is knowing how to reheat it effectively.

If you want to know how to reheat rotisserie chicken, I will give you simple instructions for the various methods that you can use. But, before reheating your chicken, there are a few other things that you should consider.

Is It Safe To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken?

It is perfectly safe to reheat rotisserie chicken, but it is important to ensure that it is heated to steaming hot all the way through, to ensure that no bacteria can start multiplying.

As with any other chicken, rotisserie chicken should only be reheated once. If you still have leftover chicken after reheating, this can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours and then eaten cold, but you should not reheat it a second time.

It can safely be cut up and added to a green salad to make a healthy lunch, or used as a filling for a scrumptious chicken sandwich. (Although I often land up giving these leftovers to the street cats around my apartment block – happy cats!)

Can You Reheat Rotisserie Chicken From Frozen?

While you can reheat your rotisserie chicken from straight out of the freezer, it is always better to defrost it first. Chicken can go off quite quickly if left out for too long. Therefore the safest way to defrost it is by taking it out of the freezer the night before and leaving it in the fridge to defrost overnight

Should You Reheat A Whole Rotisserie Chicken, Or Cut It Up?

This depends on your needs. Reheating the whole chicken and then cutting it into portions just before eating will help to keep the chicken lovely and moist inside. But cutting it up first and then reheating will speed up the heating process. 

The other advantage of cutting up the chicken first is that you can then reheat only as much as you need, and store the rest in the fridge for up to 2 days, to be reheated and used at a later stage. 

How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken

There are a few different ways to reheat rotisserie chicken. Choose the method that suits you best in terms of both the time available and the effort required. 

How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In The Oven

Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. If you are reheating the whole chicken, wrap it up in tin foil and place it in an ovenproof dish. Place the dish in the hot oven and leave for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. When heated through, cut into portions and serve.

If you cut the chicken up first, place the pieces in an oven-proof dish and cover with foil, then place in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Halfway through, baste with the juices that have run off, in order to keep the chicken moist.

How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In The Microwave

how to reheat rotisserie chicken

When reheating in the microwave, it is best to cut the chicken up first. Place chicken portions into a microwave-proof dish and cover with the lid. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds per portion, depending on the power of your microwave. Keep checking until it is heated all the way through.

Read Related Topic: How to Reheat Crab Legs – A Quick Guide

How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In A Pan On The Stove

Rotisserie chicken can be reheated quickly in a pan on the stove. Spray the pan with a little olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Place the chicken pieces in the hot pan, turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes until heated through, about 5-6 minutes in total, depending on the size of the pieces.

How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In An Air Fryer

Air fryers have become extremely popular in recent years, and have almost become the must-have kitchen gadget. I absolutely love mine and use it constantly. It is great for when you want to reheat rotisserie chicken. Simply place the cut up pieces of chicken in the air fryer basket, set the timer for 15 minutes, and forget about it. The chicken will be moist and succulent and will retain all its flavor.

Can You Reheat Rotisserie Chicken In A Slow Cooker?

how to reheat rotisserie chicken

While it is possible, I do not advise reheating rotisserie chicken in a slow cooker. The chicken will be soft and moist, but it may fall apart and lose some of its flavor. However, it can be convenient on a really busy day. In the morning you can put the whole frozen chicken in the slow cooker on the ‘Low’ setting, and leave it for 6-8 hours. You will then come home to chicken that is ready to cut up and eat.

When deciding how to reheat rotisserie chicken, any of these methods will work well. The one that I like the best is in the air fryer because it is the easiest and most delicious. 

Now that you know how to reheat rotisserie chicken, you can shop smart. As long as you have enough space in your freezer, you can maximize every opportunity to save money, and buy a few and freeze when you see a good special.

See Related Article: How to Reheat Tamales – A Quick Guide

How to Reheat Crab Legs – A Quick Guide

how to reheat crab legs

I’m sure that all lovers of seafood will agree that crab is an exotic dish that has its own unique appeal. When buying seafood, it is always best to buy fresh, but that is not always possible.

There is nothing better than fresh crab legs, but, depending on where you live, you may have to resort to the frozen store-bought variety. These will have been pre-cooked, and therefore you should know how to reheat crab legs.

Crab legs have a very distinct flavor. While similar to the white meat of a chicken, crab meat is softer and saltier. If you have a bag of crab legs in your freezer, it is important to reheat them correctly, so that they do not lose their flavor, and you can preserve the succulent texture of the meat. 

Do You Need To Defrost Crab Legs Before Reheating Them?

Crabmeat is a highly perishable food. Raw crab will go off very quickly. Therefore, most fishing companies have facilities on their fishing boats for cooking and rapid freezing of the crabs before packaging and distribution. 

If you defrost crab legs before reheating them, they may spoil very quickly. Eating seafood that has gone bad can give you a severe dose of food poisoning. Therefore it is advisable not to defrost the crab legs before reheating them. They will be fine if you reheat them straight from the freezer.

How To Reheat Crab Legs

There are numerous methods that can be used to reheat crab legs. Which one you choose depends on your personal preference. I played around with a few different ways to reheat crab legs before I found the method I like best.

In addition to eating them plain after reheating, crab legs can be added to other dishes, like stews and soups. When doing this, you should defrost and heat them slightly before adding them to your pot.

How To Reheat Crab Legs In Boiling Water

The easiest method of reheating crab legs is to simply drop the frozen crab legs into a pot of rapidly boiling salted water. Crabmeat is naturally salty, so I suggest that you should not have too much of a heavy hand with the salt. Bring the water back to a boil, and then simmer gently for about 5 minutes. The crab legs should then be heated through and ready to eat.

How To Reheat Crab Legs By Steaming

how to reheat crab legs

Steaming is a very successful method for reheating crab legs. Place about 3-4 inches of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Place the frozen crab legs in a steamer basket and place them above the water level in the pot. Do not let the crab legs actually touch the water, otherwise, they will boil and not steam. Cover and steam for 10-15 minutes, or until heated all the way through.

You can use this same method in an electric food steamer. Fill the reservoir with water up to the water-level indicator. Place the crab legs in the basket and steam for about 10-15 minutes.

How To Reheat Crab Legs In The Oven

The oven is an easy way to reheat crab legs. Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit. Lightly spray an oven-proof dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the frozen crab legs in the dish, with some mixed herbs and a sprinkle of dried garlic powder. 

Cover with tin foil, but prick a few holes in the foil, to allow steam to escape. This will prevent the crab legs from becominglimp and soggy. Place the dish in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes. The crab legs will be full of flavor and soft and succulent.

How To Reheat Crab Legs On The Stove Top

If you reheat crab legs in a pan on the stove, it is a good idea to cover them with a sauce to prevent them from drying out. My family simply adore crab legs in a creamy garlic sauce. At the end of this article, I will share my secret recipe with you.

How To Reheat Crab Legs In The Microwave

how to reheat crab legs

Reheating crab legs in the microwave is probably the quickest method, but you can only do 3 or 4 at a time. Wrap them in a paper towel, place on a plate, and cover with cling wrap. Again, prick a few small holes in the cling wrap for the steam to escape.

Place the plate in the microwave and microwave on medium-high for 1-2 minutes. Allow them to stand for a minute before unwrapping and serving. 

Can You Reheat Crab Legs On A Barbecue?

Reheating crab legs on a barbecue will give them an unusual, delectable, smokey flavor. I like to brush them with a little bit of lemon-butter sauce to keep them moist and succulent. Do not defrost them first. Place the frozen crab legs on the hot grill, taking care not to let them get too close to the flame. Grill for 3-4 minutes, brushing with lemon-butter sauce once or twice. Then turn and repeat, to cook the other side.

All of these methods work well and will give you delicious crab legs, but my personal favorite is to heat them in a pan on the stove, in a smooth and creamy garlic sauce. 

Read Related Article: How to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken – A Quick Guide

Crab Legs In Creamy Garlic Sauce

As promised, here is my secret recipe. This recipe has been perfected through trial and error, and I promise you that there won’t be a single piece left behind when the meal is done.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ – 2 pounds crab legs
  • ¼  cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup fresh cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed 
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Dash of salt and pepper

METHOD

  • Melt the butter in a large pan.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute or two
  • Add the cream and mix well.
  • Add the onion flakes and herbs and spices.
  • Bring to the boil and add the frozen crab legs 
  • Simmer gently on low heat for 10-12 minutes. 
  • Serve piping hot.

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How to Make Capacola – A Comprehensive Guide

how to make capacola

Don’t you just love Italian cuisine? Italians really have a way with food. From pizza to pasta to salami to gelato, I find it all utterly irresistible. These are the most common, everyday Italian foods that everybody knows about, and you can get these absolutely anywhere. But there are also lots of lesser-known, more exotic Italian dishes that appeal to the epicure in me. That’s why I decided that I needed to know how to make Capacola.

One of my most exciting vacations was a brief trip to Italy. Of course, a highlight of the experience was the food. Italians are so passionate about their gastronomic delights. Food and meals play a major role in Italian culture.

Getting to sample genuine Italian fare, made by real Italians who have that unmistakable Italian passion and love for food, was such a treat. It was so tempting to try all my favorites. Luckily for my waistline, it was a short trip, with limited opportunities to indulge my food fantasies. 

They say that the best way to learn about a new place and the people in it is to meet the locals and to explore with a local as your guide. No one understands the culture better than the locals, and they will have more in-depth knowledge of the best eateries than any tour guide.

While on a day trip with an Italian friend, we visited a quaint little hole-in-the-wall deli-type shop, filled with a completely mind-boggling, tantalizing array of interesting treats. It was here that I learned all about Charcuterie, which also happened to be the name of the shop.

Charcuterie (read ‘sharkootahree’ and you’ll know how to pronounce it) is the name used for a variety of Italian cured meats and cold cuts. These are usually served with other foods, like sauces, sliced vegetables, fruits, and cheeses, as accompaniments. 

Charcuterie, or cured cold cuts, are often used as fillings in fabulous sandwiches. Imagine that fresh, warm ciabatta bread, filled with the most tantalizing assortment of cold meats. That’s Charcuterie for you.

These meats are also quite delicious when served cut up in salads. Paired with creamy avocado, spinach, sun-ripened cherry tomatoes, and assorted peppers and topped with a lovely garlic salad dressing, what could make for a better lunch?

I was given a few samples to try and was intrigued by the unique flavor of the chunk of Capacola that was offered to me. I walked out of the shop like someone on a mission. I knew that I just had to learn how to make Capacola.

What Does The Word ‘Capacola’ Mean?

Even the name of this dish, Capacola, fascinated me. Also known as Capocollo and  Capicolla, the name comes from a merging of two Italian words, ‘capo’, meaning ‘head’ and ‘collo’, meaning ‘neck’ (and yes, for those of you who love all things to do with words, the English words ‘capital’ and ‘collar’ come from the same roots).

What Is Capacola?

Capacola, or Capocollo, or Capicolla…however you choose to spell it, is an Italian cold cut of pork, used in the best traditional sandwiches. It was originally made from the cut of meat taken from the top of the neck, hence the name.

In recent years, this particular piece of Charcuterie has evolved. Capacola is now often made from pork loins because it can be difficult to obtain the exact cut from the neck.

Capacola is usually made with lots of ‘red’ spices, like cayenne pepper, paprika, and dried red pepper flakes. It is these spices, combined with the special cut of the meat itself, that give Capacola its unique flavor.

Capacola has become very popular in America, where it is generally made using a Boston Butt roast. 

What Is A Boston Butt Roast?

The Boston Butt roast is a cut of pork that comes from the top of the front-leg shoulder. The meat must have a certain amount of fat on it, in order to have the desired texture and moisture for Capacola.

Can You Make Capacola With Beef Or Any Other Meat?

After some experimentation with various cuts of beef and lamb, it became clear to me that you have to use pork to make Capacola. It does not work with any other type of meat. The flavor and texture are so unique that there is no adequate substitute.

The cut of pork that comes from the neck or shoulder of the pig is so perfect for Capacola because it has the best ratio of fat to lean meat. In order to get perfect Capacola, the meat should have 30% fat. This cut of pork is marbled, with the fat perfectly distributed.

Is It Complicated To Make Capacola?

Capacola may sound complicated and difficult to make, but it is actually fairly simple to make your own delicious capacola at home.

If you want to know how to make Capacola, traditionally there are two methods that can be used. One method is more intricate and complicated than the other.

The more difficult way is to make dry-cured Capacola. This is much more time consuming, and you will need a lot of patience for it. But if you don’t need instant gratification, and you are prepared to wait it out, it is very satisfying to make your own dry-cured Capacola.

The much simpler method is to make a cooked or baked Capacola. This is much quicker and a lot easier. 

I will give you simple, straightforward instructions and recipes for both methods of how to make Capacola. 

How To Make Dry Cured Capacola

how to make capacola

When making many types of cured cold cuts, you have to be careful about keeping the temperature constant so that the fat stays cold all the time. It is difficult to prevent the outer parts of your piece of meat from getting too dry during the curing process.

Making dry-cured Capacola is a two-stage process. 

I always advise vacuum sealing the meat in the first stage, in order to prevent it from drying out. When doing it this way, you avoid the risk of bacteria multiplying and the meat going off before it has dried out fully. Vacuum sealing will also enhance and improve the flavor and texture of the meat.

The second stage of the process involves leaving the meat to mature fully. This needs to be done at very specific temperatures and humidity levels. Details will be provided in the recipe. 

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What Piece Of Meat Is Best To Make Capacola?

Try to get the piece of pork that comes from the back of the head, at the top of the shoulder. Your butcher should be able to give you the piece of Boston Butt closest to the pig’s back. This piece is actually a muscle called the ‘Coppa’.

Be sure to go to a butcher who only sells the freshest of fresh meat. Using very fresh meat will yield the best end result because fresh meat is more likely to capture and keep the special flavor of the seasonings.

Dry Cured Capacola Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-5 pound piece of pork ‘Coppa’
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 3-4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons pink sea salt
  • 2-3 bay leaves, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

METHOD

Mix all the spices, sugar, and crushed bay leaves together in a bowl. Grind together with an electric grinder, or with a mortar and pestle, until you have a very fine powder.

Roll up your piece of pork, and tie into a very tight roll using butcher’s string. You can also use a netting roll for this stage, placing the meat into a piece of netting roll and securing the ends tightly.

Place the meat in a dish and sprinkle liberally with the spice powder, coating the meat evenly all over.

Place the spiced meat in a vacuum bag and seal securely in the vacuum packer.

If you don’t have a vacuum packer, you can place the meat in a ziplock bag. Try to expel as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it up.

Leave the meat in the fridge to cure for a week, turning the bag over once a day.

After 7 days, take the meat out and rinse it very well in cold water. Dry thoroughly in a clean kitchen towel.

Sprinkle the meat generously with paprika, rubbing it into the meat well.

The meat now needs to be left to stand for 6 weeks, at a temperature of between 55°-65° Fahrenheit, with humidity to be controlled at between 60-70%.

It will be difficult to wait for six weeks, but it will be worth the wait. Take the meat out of the fridge and remove the twine or netting. Slice the meat thinly. You now have the perfect Capacola and are ready to fill that ciabatta for the best sandwich of your life!

How To Make A Baked Capacola

Making a baked, or cooked capacola is a lot simpler and less time-consuming than the dry-cured variety. You will find it easier and a lot less finicky. 

What Piece Of Meat Do I Need?

To make a cooked Capacola, you should try to use the Coppa, as described earlier. However, if you cannot get that cut, a piece of pork loin will work just as well. Because it does not have quite the same distribution of fat, it might not be quite as moist, but it will still be absolutely scrumptious. 

Using a piece of freshly cut pork loin is actually the most economical way to make Capacola. If you buy your Capacola ready-made in a specialty Charcuterie store, be prepared to pay a lot of money for it. But if you can learn how to make Capacola at home, you will find that it does not need to cost a fortune to enjoy this delicacy.

Cooked Capacola is actually so simple to make that it is virtually flop proof. Provided that you have the correct ingredients and equipment, there is really very little room for error. 

The secret ingredient here is pink curing salt. This is what will give the Capacola its perfect reddish-pink color, and just the right flavor. 

The most essential piece of equipment in this method is the netting that we spoke about earlier. This will ensure that your Capacola retains all the flavors and holds its shape well as it cures and matures.

Cooked Capacola Recipe

For this method, you will need a # 24 netting roll. This will have just the right amount of strength to hold the meat together as it cooks, without trapping any of the juices in.

STAGE 1

Ingredients 

(for the curing rub)

  • 3-4 pound piece of pork coppa or pork loin
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pink curing salt
  • 1 teaspoon flaked red pepper, crushed

Place all the above ingredients together in a spice grinder and grind till very fine. This can also be done by hand with a pestle and mortar. 

Rub this mixture into the meat, ensuring that it is fully coated. It is important to check that all the rub has reached all the little folds of meat. 

Wrap the meat tightly in cling wrap and place in the fridge for a week. Every two days, turn the parcel of meat over. This will help to make sure that the moisture remains evenly distributed through the piece of meat.

After a week, remove the meat from the fridge and unwrap it. Rinse it thoroughly under cold running water and pat the meat dry with a clean kitchen towel. 

You are now ready for the next stage.

STAGE 2

Preheat your oven to 300° Fahrenheit. You will need an ovenproof dish and a roasting pan with a wire rack.

Ingredients 

(for the cooking rub. This can be played with and adjusted, according to your personal preference. I have given what works best for me.)

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes

Grind all of the above together, either in an electric spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. 

Rub the spice mixture into the meat, again making sure that every little fold is covered in spice.

Now for the tricky part. You need to stuff the meat into the netting. It is easier to do this if you stretch the netting first, and then push the meat into the netting. 

The most important part of the cooking process is preserving the moisture of the meat. In order to do this, you need to keep the humidity level high in the oven. Fill the ovenproof dish with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Place the meat on the wire rack on top of your roasting pan. Position this on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 2 hours, turning halfway through so that the meat browns evenly on all sides. 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature. Place in a dish in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.

Only when the meat is completely cold is it ready to be sliced. This is best done with an electric meat slicer. 

If you do not have an electric meat slicer, you can use a knife, but it is essential that the knife is fiercely sharp. Take great care not to slice your fingers in the process.

You can now slice the meat into very thin slices, and VOILA! You have learned how to make Capacola absolutely perfectly.

 

Now that you have learned how to make Capacola, you may have some questions about your delicious Capacola.

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What Are The Best Accompaniments To Capacola?

how to make capacola

Capacola is yummiest when eaten as a sandwich filling, in a warm, fresh ciabatta, bagel, or any other bread that you love. 

My favorite Capacola sandwich filling is actually very simple. The meat itself is so delicious that I don’t like adding too many other ingredients. I am not fond of the mingling of too many strong flavors. But that is only my personal preference.

I love a freshly baked ciabatta bread, spread thinly with garlic mayo. Add a few slices of Capacola, some shredded lettuce, a few roasted veggies, and top it all off with a slice of provolone cheese. 

If you like mustard, you can replace the mayo with spicy French mustard for an interesting touch.

Must Capacola Be Kept In The Fridge?

After your hard work at making the Capacola, you will be heartbroken if it goes bad before you get a chance to eat it. Like all meat, Capacola can spoil very quickly if not kept in the fridge, so yes, please keep your Capacola in the fridge.

If you want to prepare your sandwiches in advance, these should be well-wrapped in cling wrap and should also be stored in the fridge. Take them out about an hour before eating, so that the bread is not too hard and cold when you are ready to tuck in.

How Long Can Capacola Keep?

Capacola can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It will remain good in the freezer for as long as 6 months if stored correctly.

How Do You Store Capacola?

Capacola should be stored in an airtight container with a tight seal. It can also be stored in a carefully sealed ziplock bag, or wrapped up tightly in cling wrap. Because it has such a strong flavor and needs to be kept in the fridge, you will want to ensure that the aroma and flavor do not transfer to other foods in your fridge. For this reason, it needs to be kept airtight.

Can Capacola Be Frozen?

Capacola can be frozen very successfully, provided it is packaged correctly. If you want to freeze all of it, you can freeze it whole before slicing it. 

Wrap up the piece of meat tightly in cling wrap and then wrap in a layer of tin foil. Place in the freezer. Only slice it after defrosting, when you are ready to use it.

In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, and want to freeze them, you can freeze the remaining slices. Place them in an airtight plastic container, separating the slices with sheets of cling wrap between them. If you do not separate the slices, they may stick together and tear when you try to separate them after defrosting.

How Do You Defrost Frozen Capacola?

The best way to defrost frozen Capacola is to take it out of the freezer the night before and leave it to defrost gradually overnight in the fridge. In this way, bacteria will not be able to multiply and your Capacola will not go bad.

I do not recommend defrosting Capacola in the microwave. It may lose some of its flavor, and the texture will be too wet and soggy. You also don’t want to risk the Capacola getting too warm.

How Can You Tell If Capacola Is Off?

If you are concerned that your Capacola might have gone off, you obviously won’t want to risk tasting it. Luckily, there are other ways of checking if it has gone bad.

  • Appearance – if the Capacola has gone off, it will start developing a greyish tinge and may have bits of mold growing on it.
  • Smell – Capacola that is off will have a sour, unpleasant odor, instead of the appetizing aroma of fresh Capacola.
  • Touch – If you suspect that the Capacola has spoiled, don’t be too scared to feel it. If it is no longer okay to eat, it will probably feel slimy. Be sure to wash your hands after handling it. Bacteria can easily be transferred to other foods. 

Once you have made Capacola once, you will see how easy it is and you will be able to enjoy this Italian Charcuterie whenever you feel like it.

Can You Add Gelatin to Buttercream – A Guide

can you add gelatin to buttercream

It’s your little one’s first birthday, and you want the celebration to be really special. The whole extended family will be there, and they are always criticizing your cooking and baking, so the birthday cake has to be absolutely perfect. But… your buttercream icing always turns out too runny and ruins the cake. So how do you thicken it? Can you add gelatin to buttercream?

Buttercream is a type of frosting or icing, that can be used either as a filling to sandwich two layers of cake together or as a coating over the sides and top of the cake. It is also lovely for decorating cakes using a piping bag, or other specialty cake decorating tools and will make your cake look quite spectacular if done correctly.

There are lots of different types of frosting for that perfect cake, but my favorite is buttercream. I simply adore that melt-in-the-mouth, creamy, smooth consistency that swirls around your mouth, sending you into cake heaven.

Buttercream is fairly simple to make, but getting the consistency just right can be a little tricky. The secret is to add your icing sugar (sometimes also called powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar – they are all the same thing) very gradually, mixing slowly so that the buttercream doesn’t get too thick and stiff, but is not all runny and messy. It’s also important to use good quality butter that is nice and creamy. 

 

How Do You Make Buttercream?

I have a wonderful recipe with simple, basic ingredients, but actually even more important than the ingredients – the method. My grandma was known to be a wonderful baker. People absolutely loved her cakes and tarts. As a little girl, I always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with her, sometimes just standing quietly at her side, watching her every move. I was so lucky to have learned from the best.

My grandma’s buttercream icing is one of my favorite flop-proof recipes. Many people like to keep their best recipes a secret, refusing to share them with anyone. I, on the other hand, always feel flattered when someone asks me for one of my recipes. I think it is one of the greatest compliments that you can pay a chef or baker. I have shared this recipe with all my friends and family, and now I am honored to share it with you.

Grandma’s Buttercream Icing

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½  teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2-3 drops food coloring – if required (Watch out for my special secret tip for adding color to your buttercream icing, later in this article )

METHOD

Leave the butter out to get to room temperature. Cream the butter with a mixer or spatula until light, soft and smooth. Very slowly add the icing sugar and continue beating for a few seconds. Add the vanilla extract and beat for another few seconds. Pour in the milk gradually, and beat for 3-4 minutes. If you are using food coloring, now is the time to add it, very carefully, one drop at a time, until you get just the right depth of color that you want.

One thing that I always find difficult with frosting is knowing exactly how much the recipe will yield. This recipe should give you between 2-2 ½ cups of perfect buttercream. But what do you do if it comes out too runny? How do you get the consistency just right? There are various ways to thicken your buttercream if the consistency is too much like a liquid.

 

Can You Add Gelatin to Buttercream?

Yes! One way to thicken your buttercream is to add a little gelatin. But you have to be very careful about how you do it. Add 1-2 tablespoons of gelatin to half a tablespoon of cold water and mix until completely smooth. Gently stir it into your buttercream frosting. Place in the fridge for half an hour to thicken fully. 

 

Can You Add Jello to Buttercream Icing?

Well, here is that special secret tip that I promised you earlier, though I suppose now it is no longer such a secret. If you want to give your buttercream frosting a light, pale color with just a hint of a slightly different flavor, you can add a little Jello powder.

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite flavored Jello powder with a few drops of water, and gently fold into your buttercream. It will give it a slightly firmer consistency, so you can use a little less milk in the mixture. You will now have a frosting with a soft color and interesting flavor.

 

Are There Other Ways to Thicken Buttercream That is Too Runny?

Not only can you add gelatin to the buttercream, but you can also add either cornflour or icing sugar. You can simply add a little more icing sugar, slowly mixing it in until you get the right consistency. 

Sometimes, of course, you may find yourself in that annoying situation where you have used your very last grain of icing sugar, the frosting is still too loose, and your trusty go-to neighbor – the one who always has the best-stocked pantry – has also run out of icing sugar! 

In this case, it’s cornflour (also known as cornstarch) to the rescue. Add about half a teaspoon at a time, beating lightly as you sprinkle it in until the buttercream thickens. This is also useful if your icing is already very sweet and you need to thicken it, but don’t want to add more icing sugar.

 

Another Useful, but Somewhat Unknown Tip

To end off, I will share with you another clever little trick to make your buttercream firmer, creamier, and even more delectable. You can add one or two tablespoons of vanilla instant pudding powder. This secret ingredient will give your buttercream frosting the most perfect texture and consistency. Simply add the powder and beat gently for a few seconds. You are now ready to ice your cake like a pro.

 

Baked Potato in Microwave on a Paper Tower

baked potato in microwave paper towel

The humble spud is one of the most versatile vegetables. It is inexpensive, readily available, easy to cook, and there are so many things that we can do with it to turn it into the most scrumptious dish. One of the simplest is to cook a baked potato in the microwave on a paper towel.

The poor potato has been given a bad name by those people who think, erroneously I might add,  that it is fattening and unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like with anything else in your diet, it is not good to eat potatoes in excess, but if eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, potatoes are very healthy.

What Are the Health Benefits of Potatoes?

Potatoes are filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These are all vital components of our daily nutritional requirements. They are rich in fiber and are a valuable source of carbohydrates, needed for energy. 

The belief that potatoes are bad for you is really a misconception. It is not the potatoes themselves, but rather the other ingredients that many people often use to cook them with, which can be detrimental to your health. 

Using large quantities of oil packs extra calories into your simple spud, while adding loads of salt is not good for you because it can raise your sodium levels to an unhealthy state. Of course, it is also delicious to add all sorts of toppings to your potato, and many of these can be unhealthy and fattening. Later on in this article, we will give you some ideas and suggestions for delicious and healthy toppings for your potato.

If you eat a medium-sized baked potato daily, this would be considered by dieticians and nutritionists to be a perfectly acceptable part of a healthy eating plan. There are a few different ways to make a baked potato, and we will look at all of them, but the easiest and quickest is to make a baked potato in the microwave on a paper towel.

 

What is the Best Way to Cook Potatoes?

It is possible to cook your potatoes in many different ways. The method that you choose really depends largely upon your personal preference. Of course, it does also depend on the dish with which you are pairing your potatoes. For example, I think that most people would agree that burgers go best with fries, as does fried fish. Your Sunday roast, on the other hand, will go best with a crispy roast potato.

You may choose your cooking method based on health and diet factors. For example, roast potatoes sizzling in hot oil may taste utterly scrumptious, but they will be a lot less healthy than a baked potato heated in the microwave. 

The most common methods of cooking potatoes are

  • Baked, either in the oven or microwave
  • Sauteed in a pan
  • Grilled
  • Mashed
  • Fried in oil
  • Steamed
  • Boiled in water
  • Roasted in a little oil
  • Stewed in a pot with meat and other vegetables

What are the Most Common Varieties of Potatoes?

There are numerous different varieties of potatoes available. Some are more suited to certain types of cooking than others. The varieties that you will find in the shops are not always the same all year round. They are often seasonal and are area dependent. Different agricultural zones are better suited to different varieties, because of fluctuations in climate.

Some varieties are very common and are available in most potato-growing regions. Others may be more difficult to find and will only be available at certain times of the year. 

Do not confuse the ordinary potato with the sweet potato, or yam. These are two very different vegetables, and each is more suited than the other to specific dishes. They have different flavors, textures, and nutritional values.

There are three different types of potatoes, namely

  • Waxy potatoes – these potatoes have a smooth texture, almost like wax, and are firm. They will not disintegrate or fall apart when you cook them but will keep their original shape. They are particularly good for potato salad, scalloped potatoes and roasted potatoes.
  • Starchy potatoes – these potatoes, as their name suggests, have a higher starch content. This makes them more likely to fall apart when cooking. They are wonderful for mashed potatoes and are also good for making a baked potato in the microwave on a paper towel.
  • All-purpose potatoes – these potatoes are really in between starchy and waxy potatoes. They don’t fall apart when cooked, because they have less starch than starchy potatoes, but they are not as smooth and firm as waxy potatoes. They really are all-purpose and will be good in most potato dishes. 

These three categories are very broad, and each one has so many varieties that it can be a little overwhelming when you are trying to make your selection. Some of the most popular and commonly found varieties are:

  • Russet:  This starchy potato is also called a Burbank or is sometimes known as an Idaho potato. It has light brown skin with an uneven texture. It is good for mashing, baking and frying.
  • Rose Finn Apple: This waxy potato has a slightly pinkish tinge to the skin, but the flesh inside is golden yellow. It will be good either boiled or deep-fried and is excellent for salads. 
  • Red Bliss potato: A waxy potato, this small, round potato has a thin red skin. It will make delicious, crispy roast potatoes. It is also good in stews and soups.
  • White Rose: This is a round or oval-shaped potato with golden-colored skin. It is a waxy potato with white flesh, good for boiling or sauteing, and other methods since it is an all-purpose potato.
  • Yukon Gold: This is my favorite all-purpose potato. It has thin, yellow skin with yellow, creamy flesh. They have a unique flavor and are wonderful when roasted, baked, or boiled.
  • Purple potatoes: This unusual all-purpose potato has deep purple skin and purple flesh. They are good for all types of cooking, and because of their vibrant color, they look particularly good in salads. 

How Do You Select the Best Potatoes for Your Dish?

Always look for heavy, firm potatoes that have no blemishes. Don’t buy potatoes that have soft spots that are darker than the rest of the potato. Avoid potatoes that are sprouting from the eyes. This is a sign that they are not fresh.

Potatoes that appear to have a greenish tinge should not be eaten. A potato will start turning green when it has been overexposed to light. This causes the production of a chemical known as solanine. The name ‘Solanine’ comes from the Latin word ‘sol’, meaning ‘sun’. Solanine is produced as a result of exposure to sunlight. It is toxic and can make you feel quite ill if ingested. 

When it comes to potatoes, I have found that bigger is not always better. Often very large potatoes are lacking in flavor and are sometimes floury in texture. I prefer small to medium-sized potatoes. I always look for clean, smooth skin that is not wrinkled. 

 

Where Do You Store Your Potatoes?

Potatoes will spoil very quickly if exposed to light. They should be stored in a cool, dark cupboard with ventilation. If they are kept in a humid area, they will start to sprout. Although many experts advise against keeping potatoes in the fridge, during the intense heat of summer I have kept potatoes in the crisper drawer in the fridge for up to two weeks and they have been perfect. 

 

Can you Freeze Potatoes?

Raw potatoes do not do well in the freezer. They will go watery and will be soft and spongy when thawed. Only certain types of cooked potatoes can be frozen successfully. Mashed potatoes will be fine, as will potatoes cooked in a stew or casserole. But roasted potatoes, or fries, will be soggy and unappetizing after freezing.

Let us now look at our favorite way to cook potatoes. The easiest, and healthiest, is to bake them in the microwave.

 

Baked Potato in the Microwave on a Paper Towel

Select your potato and wash it well. Dry the potato thoroughly. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the potato. This will allow the steam to escape and will prevent your potato from splitting open. 

Your potato will be delicious if you brush it very lightly with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt, but this step can be omitted if you want to avoid adding oil and salt. 

Place a piece of paper towel on the turntable in your microwave. This will keep it clean and absorb the moisture from the steam. If you are cooking a single potato, place it in the center of the turntable. 

If you are cooking more than one, try to choose potatoes that are more or less the same size. Place the potatoes along the outer rim of the turntable, equidistant from each other. For example, imagine your turntable as a clock face. If you are baking four potatoes, place them at 12, 3, 6, and 9. This will ensure even heat distribution so that the potatoes cook evenly.

 

How Long Does a Potato Bake in the Microwave?

The length of time needed to bake the potatoes depends on three things

  1. The number of potatoes you are doing at the same time
  2. The size of the potatoes
  3. The power, or wattage, of your microwave.

If you want to understand how the power of the microwave affects the cooking, a 1000-watt microwave is extremely powerful and will cook quickly and efficiently, while a 700-watt or less will be slower and may not cook as evenly. 

A single medium-sized potato in a high-powered microwave will cook in about 5 minutes. A very large potato will need an extra minute or two. Usually, if you double the number of potatoes, you should double the cooking time, less one or two minutes. So four potatoes will take between 16-18 minutes.

Halfway through the cooking time, pause the microwave and open the door. Carefully turn the potatoes, using a glove or a cloth to protect your hand, as it will be very hot. This will help to ensure even cooking.

How Do You Know When the Potatoes are Done?

Pierce the potato with a thin skewer or a fork. It should be soft, but not mushy. If it is still hard inside and you struggle to get the skewer in, it will need another minute or two. If the skin is starting to wrinkle and go hard, it is overdone.

Can You Eat the Potato As Soon As it is Cooked?

With all microwave cooking, “resting time” is important. The food will continue to cook for a few minutes after the microwave is switched off because the heat will still diffuse as it evens out. You should let your potato rest for 5 minutes before eating it. This also allows it to cool slightly so that you are less likely to burn your mouth when eating it. 

Some Ideas for Yummy Fillings

If a plain baked potato sounds too dull, and you want to liven it up, you can cut it open halfway and stuff it with delectable fillings. These are our favorites

  • Grated cheddar cheese, mixed with a little sour cream and onion soup powder
  • Smoked salmon or mackerel pate
  • Chicken, cut up into small pieces and mixed with a little sweet chili sauce
  • Minced beef or bolognese
  • Tuna mayonnaise
  • Egg mayonnaise
  • Chopped tomatoes and peppers mixed with Thousand Island sauce

I have saved my best tip for last. When cooking a baked potato in the microwave for your lunch, cook a few extra. They can keep in the fridge for up to a week. You can then quickly heat up and serve with your favorite filling. A meal in a minute! Don’t think of it as eating left-overs. I plan for it, so I love calling them “plan-overs”. This will be a real time-saver and will simplify your life. You won’t have to think about what to eat for lunch!

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