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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!

Do Macarons Need to Be Refrigerated? A Guide

do macarons need to be refrigerated

Macarons are an irresistible treat, traditionally served as a dessert. When expertly made, they should melt in your mouth, leaving your tastebuds begging for more. You will seldom have leftovers, but if you do, how do you store them? Do macarons need to be refrigerated?

Like many other exotic and tantalizing dishes, macarons originated in France where the French are renowned for their cuisine and expertise at producing gastronomic delights. A professional French chef or baker will have endless patience to fiddle and fuss, in order to get the perfect result.

Does this mean that you cannot make macarons in your kitchen at home? Of course not! Making macarons can be a little tricky at first, and your first few attempts might not yield the perfect macaron, but with a little practice, they are actually quite easy to make.

There are a few secrets to making macarons, and later on, in this article, I will share some of my best tips with you. Many people don’t like giving out their best recipes and can be quite possessive about it. I, on the other hand, always see it as the ultimate compliment when someone asks me for a recipe. 

Friends and family always rave about my macarons and ask for my recipe. I have given it to so many people that I have decided to share it with you here as well, so that you, too, can master this wonderful French confection. Once you have mastered it, you will never have to ask if macarons need to be refrigerated, because you will never have leftovers to worry about.

Of course, if you are making your macarons for a special occasion and you are the type of person who likes to be well-organized and prepares things well in advance, you may need to ask, “Do macarons need to be refrigerated?” But then you run the risk of those yummy little goodies being guzzled on the sly before your guests even arrive. 

 

How Long Do Macarons Last?

Do macarons need to be refrigerated? Not necessarily. They can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days. Store them in an airtight container, and make sure that they are in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Longer than 2-3 days, yes, macarons do need to be refrigerated. Macarons will keep in the fridge for up to a week, as long as they are packed correctly.

 TIP: Macarons can be stacked in layers, but it is essential to place a piece of parchment paper between the layers to separate them, otherwise they may stick to each other and their delicate surface could be damaged. Place them in a completely sealed air-tight container in the fridge, and they should still be good a week later. That is if you have managed to resist the urge to eat them!

If you are having guests and you are serving macarons, but want to be well-prepared in advance, here is another very handy TIP: Make your macaron shells and filling a day or two before, but do not put them together. 

Store the shells and the filling in separate air-tight containers. While the macarons themselves do not need to be refrigerated at this stage, the filling does. Take the filling out of the fridge, an hour in advance, to warm to room temperature, and assemble the macarons at the last minute before your guests arrive. They will be perfect in appearance and taste like they have been freshly made.

 

Can You Freeze and Refreeze Macarons?

Yes, you can freeze them. Macarons will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. Here, also, if preparing ahead of time, I would recommend freezing the shells and the filling separately, and then assembling them when needed. But if this is not convenient, whole macarons can certainly be frozen. Again, you will need to separate them with parchment paper and pack them in a fully air-tight container. If air seeps in, they will go soggy and will not be appetizing. 

If you have frozen your macarons once and then defrosted them, I do not recommend refreezing them. This really applies to all foods that have been frozen. Once food has been thawed, it is not safe to refreeze it, because bacteria can start to multiply as it thaws. 

Macarons that have been thawed once will still be fine to eat and will retain their taste and texture, but freezing and defrosting them a second time will seriously affect the consistency and flavor. They will start to acquire freezer taste; you know, that subtle, off-ish taste that some foods develop when they have spent too long stored, hidden, and forgotten in the depths of your bulging freezer.

 

How Do You Defrost Frozen Macarons?

It is best to take them out of the freezer the night before you need them and place them in the fridge to defrost gradually. Too sudden a change in temperature could affect the texture of the macaron shells, and make the filling too soft. Never defrost macarons in the microwave. They will go soggy and be completely ruined.

 

Can You Crisp Up Macarons If They Go Soft in the Freezer?

If you have frozen your macaron shells and they are too soft after defrosting, you can place them in a warm oven on a low temperature for about 10 minutes, then allow them to cool completely before filling them. They should then be nice and firm. However, this will not work with macarons that have already been filled. 

The filling cannot be heated. It might curdle and separate if heated. It will also probably melt and turn to liquid, ruining your macaron shells.

 

What do Macarons Look Like?

Macarons should be light and fluffy. The outside should be crispy, while the inside should be softer and slightly chewy. They should have a dome-shaped, smooth outer surface, with little bubbles that burst through on the inner surface. These little bubbles are known as ‘feet’.

A complete macaron consists of two shells, sandwiched together with a cream filling. You can leave them their natural color, which is a pale off-white creamy shade, or you can color them with food coloring. 

 

How Do You Make Macarons?

I have experimented with quite a few different recipes and methods, but, through trial and error, I eventually hit on the perfect recipe. The ingredients for macaron shells are very simple. You need egg whites, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, almond flour and food coloring. But it is what you do with those simple ingredients that make all the difference.

TIP: If you usually store your eggs in the fridge, start off by taking them out of the fridge well in advance. Your egg whites must be at room temperature when you beat them, in order to get the best result.

Here is my special recipe for macarons.

You will need the following utensils:

  • Mixer with a whisk beater
  • Food processor
  • Sieve
  • Large bowl
  • Spatula
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment or baking paper
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Piping bag
  • Wire cooling rack

 

INGREDIENTS

Macaron shells

  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fine almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops food coloring

METHOD

  • Preheat your oven to 300° Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Combine the almond flour with the powdered sugar and salt. Process to a very fine powder in the food processor and sift into a bowl. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks, slowly adding the granulated sugar. Continue beating until you have firm peaks. 

TIP: You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites will stay put.

  • Add the vanilla and beat in. Add the food coloring and beat for another few seconds. 

TIP: to prevent accidentally splashing in too much food coloring, use an eye-dropper.

  • Fold in the almond flour mixture very gradually, using a spatula. Continue folding until it is smooth and glossy.
  • Place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe circles onto the parchment paper. Your macarons should be 1½ inches in diameter. Place them 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  • Leave them to stand for 1 hour, then bake at 300° for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the wire rack.
  • Fill with cream filling when completely cool.

Vanilla Buttercream Filling

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter, gradually adding the powdered sugar. Add the cream and vanilla extract, beating well until you have a soft, creamy texture. 

Using a piping bag, place a blob in the center of a macaron shell, and sandwich together with a second shell. 

 

You now have perfect, mouth-watering macaroons. Leave them to settle for a few hours, and invite your friends for a party!

How Long Can Fried Chicken Stay Out

how long can fried chicken stay out

 

Piping-hot, crispy fried chicken is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Who doesn’t love tucking into those mouth-watering drumsticks coated in crunchy batter or those spicy wings that leave your taste buds tingling and begging for more? Whether you cook it yourself or buy it from your local takeout place, you have probably asked, ‘How long can fried chicken stay out?’

There are many ways to cook chicken pieces, but frying them in hot oil is probably one of the most popular. Fried chicken is chicken that has been coated in egg and flour, seasoned with your favorite spices, and deep-fried in hot oil. Many people also like coating their chicken pieces in breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes to make them extra crispy.

Chicken has the potential to go off fairly quickly, so it is important to know how long your fried chicken can stay out of the fridge while remaining safe to eat. 

Of course, the best time to eat fried chicken is straight out of the pan, when it has just been cooked. This is when it will be at its freshest and most appetizing. That aroma coming from the kitchen, and the sound of the chicken sizzling in the pan, will be utterly tantalizing and irresistible. But it may not always be possible to eat it straight away.

 

How Long Can Fried Chicken Stay Out the Fridge?

How long fried chicken can stay out of the fridge depends on a few factors, but the most important of these is the indoor temperature. Generally, in temperatures up to 85° Fahrenheit, it is safe to leave the fried chicken out for up to 2 hours. However, if it is any warmer than 85°, it should either be eaten immediately or placed in the fridge within 1 hour. 

 

Why Shouldn’t Fried Chicken Be Left Out For Too Long?

 

Chicken can go bad much more quickly than other meats. This is because bacteria in food multiply much faster in moist foods. Chicken has a higher water content than other meats, and food-borne bacteria will thrive in the moisture of the chicken flesh. 

Microorganisms like Salmonella, e-Coli, and Campylobacter multiply very quickly in protein-based, moist foods. So your delicious fried chicken is the perfect environment for them to grow.

 

How Long Can Fried Chicken Keep in the Fridge?

Fried chicken can keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. It is best to store your fried chicken on the top shelf of your fridge. Do not place it anywhere near any raw meat or chicken. 

Raw meat and chicken all contain certain elements and bacteria. These will still be safe to eat after they have been cooked because these bacteria will be killed by high temperatures. However, bacteria are easily transferable, even in the fridge, and your fried chicken may become contaminated if it comes into contact with raw meat or chicken.

 

How Should You Store Fried Chicken?

Fried chicken will last longer if it is stored in a sealed, airtight container, or in sealed ziplock bags. Do not seal the bags or containers while the chicken is still hot. The steam must be allowed to escape and the chicken should only be slightly warm when sealing.

If using bags, try to release as much air as possible from the bags before sealing. It is a good idea to divide the chicken into smaller portions, in order to help it to cool down more quickly. Also, try to separate pieces by placing cling wrap between them. This will prevent the pieces from sticking together and ruining the coating. 

 

Can You Freeze Fried Chicken?

The good news is that fried chicken freezes very successfully. Because it is such a popular dish in my house, I usually cook a large batch at a time and freeze the extra pieces. This kind of planning helps with time management and can simplify your life. It is so convenient to have a scrumptious meal in the freezer for those days when you know that you won’t have time to cook.

 

How Do You Thaw Fried Chicken?

Fried chicken should not be left out to thaw overnight. Bacteria can multiply very quickly and the chicken may go off if left at room temperature for an extended period. Place your frozen fried chicken in the fridge and leave it there to defrost overnight.

If you have forgotten to take it out the night before, and you need to use it urgently, you can defrost the fried chicken in the microwave on the defrost setting, but it may lose some of its flavors and will not be crispy. I suggest leaving it in the microwave only for long enough to defrost it, but not to heat it through.

 

How Do You Reheat Fried Chicken That Has Been Defrosted?

Once the chicken has defrosted completely, either overnight in the fridge, or at the last minute in the microwave, you can reheat it in the oven at about 350° Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are. Bigger pieces will take longer to heat through.

 

How Can You Tell if Fried Chicken Is Off?

Obviously, if you suspect that your fried chicken might have gone bad, you will not want to risk tasting it. Fortunately, it is possible to check if it is off without eating any of it. Here is how:

  • Smell – all chicken, even when it is fresh, has a distinctive smell. However, chicken that has gone off will have a sour, unpleasant odor.
  • Color – Cooked chicken that is fresh and good to eat will be either white or light tan in color, depending on which portions you have. On the other hand, chicken that is bad will start turning a greyish green. If it is seriously off it may even be moldy.
  • Touch – Fresh chicken will be dry to the touch, while chicken that is off will feel slimy.

 

What Will Happen if You Eat Fried Chicken That Has Been Left Out For Too Long?

Eating food that has gone bad can make you severely ill. If the fried chicken has only just started going off, you might only get a mild case of food poisoning. You might have slight stomach cramps and vomit once or twice, and then feel fine a few hours later.

If the fried chicken has been left out for an extended period, and the bacteria have been multiplying furiously, you can get very sick and may even need to be admitted to hospital.

 

What Should You Do If You Get Food Poisoning?

If you were not sure how long fried chicken can stay out, and you inadvertently ate it after it has gone off, you will probably start to feel bad within a couple of hours. If you are not seriously ill, make sure to drink plenty of water, and rest for a few hours. 

If you don’t start to improve, and you are throwing up copiously and have diarrhea, it is time to go to the doctor or emergency room. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, which is potentially very dangerous. You may need to be treated with medication and be put on a drip to rehydrate your system.

If you are asking how long fried chicken can stay out, you have probably either already made or are planning to make some fried chicken. Be sure to follow safe practices when preparing and storing your fried chicken, and you can enjoy this delicious meal without any worries.

 

How to Thicken Clam Chowder – A Guide

how to thicken clam chowder

The weather is changing, and those chilly nights are getting colder and colder. It is time to start thinking about lovely, thick, heart-warming soups and chowders. I love a steaming bowl of clam chowder, but the consistency has to be just right, so I soon learned how to thicken clam chowder.

It has to be creamy and thick, with chunks of potato, clams, and little pieces of bacon. Basically, a winter one-bowl-wonder meal that will warm you from the depths of your belly and leave you feeling as if you have been wrapped up in a snuggly blanket of coziness.

Chowder is not to be confused with either soup or stew. It is a quite unique combination of the two, taking the best elements of both, and putting them together to come up with a dish that is thicker than soup and not as runny but is not as full of solid chunkiness as your favorite stew might be.

While most soups are stock-based, chowder is made with milk and cream, giving it that scrumptious creamy texture that coats your mouth as you savor the mingling flavors of all the different ingredients.

What Can I Add to My Chowder?

You can add a great variety of things to your chowders, such as haddock, corn, potatoes, bacon bits, lobster, crayfish, and other kinds of seafood. Each of these will add its own individual flavor to your pot. My favorite is clams because they give it a special smack that is unparalleled by any other ingredients. Later on, in this article, I will tell you how I make it and I’ll share my easy-to-make recipe with you.

How Thick Should Chowder Be?

You don’t want your chowder to have a completely liquid consistency, because then it would just be soup. But you also won’t want it to be so thick that it becomes almost solid, like a stew. The trick is to find a fine balance between the two. My personal test is that if you tilt your spoon, it should slide off gently in a blob, rather than running off in a splash.

How to Thicken Clam Chowder

There are numerous methods that you can use to thicken clam chowder. I have tried all of these, and they all produced successful results.

    • Heavy Cream

In order to get that thick, creamy consistency, you should use heavy cream. It will give your chowder a rich, smooth texture.

    • Cornstarch

If you want a really thick chowder, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch to the cream. Stir it in well so that there are no lumps, and then pour it into the pot very gradually, stirring as you pour. The chowder will thicken as you blend in the cream and cornstarch mixture.

If you have already added the cream, but your chowder is not thick enough and you want to thicken your clam chowder, even more, you can take a little cornstarch and mix it with a tablespoon or two of cold water. Gradually pour this into your pot and you will find that this is an easy and effective way to thicken clam chowder.

    • Flour

If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use the above method with flour instead of cornstarch, but you may need to use a little more to get the same effect.

    • Potatoes

Another way to thicken clam chowder is to add potatoes that have been cut into chunks. The secret here is to use the right kind of potatoes. You get starchy potatoes and waxy potatoes. Avoid waxy potatoes, like the ever-popular Yukon Gold.

You will need to use a starchy potato variety, like the Russet potato. The potato contains starch, which acts as a thickening agent, so it actually works in a similar way to cornstarch, except that the starch is not as concentrated.

Let the potato chunks cook in the chowder, and as they cook the starch is gradually released, thickening the chowder as it simmers. The bonus of this is that the potatoes also bulk up your chowder, turning it into a substantial, hearty, and wholesome meal.

    • Crackers

I have also used another unusual method to thicken clam chowder, using crackers. Choose your favorite crackers and break them up into very small pieces, or crush them with a rolling pin, and stir into your chowder and let it simmer.

The starch in the crackers will cause the chowder to thicken, and also add a lovely flavor to the chowder. A word of caution; if you use salty crackers, you should reduce the amount of salt in the recipe, as the crackers will add salt to the chowder.

    • Instant Mashed Potato

This is a little-known secret that I sometimes use. If you stir in instant mashed potato powder to your chowder, it will thicken beautifully. You just have to be careful not to add too much. If you overdo it, you will land up with chowder that has the gooey consistency of thick porridge.

Read Related Article: How to Thicken Mashed Potatoes – A Quick Guide

How Do You Make Clam Chowder?

Clam chowder is relatively easy to make. It is my go-to dish when I need something hot, filling, and tasty. Over the years I have experimented with numerous recipes, and eventually combined the best elements of all of them to come up with my own fail-safe recipe.

What I love about this recipe is that it is a one-pot dish, and you aren’t left with a kitchen full of dirty pots and pans afterward. These quantities will make approximately 8 servings.

EASY CLAM CHOWDER RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cans chopped clams
  • 2 bottles clam juice
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch ( more if needed)
  • ½ cup butter
  • A few pieces of bacon, cut up small
  • 4 – 5 potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 – 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 – 3 carrots, chopped
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper, according to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (less if you only want a subtle hint of the flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 sprig chopped fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley

METHOD

In a large soup pot, heat a little of the butter and brown the onion. Add the bacon and garlic and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the remaining butter, the vegetables, and the seasonings. Cook on low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add the milk, clams, and clam juice. Simmer gently until the veggies are cooked through and the potatoes are soft. Stir the cornstarch into the cream until it is completely smooth, with no lumps. Gradually add the cream mixture to the pot, stirring constantly. This is the best method of how to thicken clam chowder. As you blend it in, the chowder should thicken beautifully. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.

Can You Freeze Clam Chowder?

If you have leftovers, clam chowder can be frozen without losing any of its creaminess or flavor. In fact, I like to plan ahead and I often double the quantity and freeze one batch.

Freeze the clam chowder in either an airtight container or in ziplock bags. I like to use small ziplock bags, in individual serving sizes. That way I can take out only as much as I need at any time.

On a cold winter’s night, when I arrive home late and don’t have time to cook, it is super-convenient to have a pot of thick, creamy chowder ready to just be heated up. Serve with a fresh bread roll or garlic bread, and you have dinner ready in minutes.

How Long Can I Leave Cooked Chicken Out – A Guide

How Long Can I Leave Cooked Chicken Out

 

Chefs around the world love coming up with new chicken dishes, because chicken is so versatile. There is so much that you can do with it. It is also healthy, rich in protein, low in fat, and quite affordable, making it one of the most popular foods. But if you like chicken and cook it often, you may ask, ‘How long can I leave cooked chicken out?’

The answer to this depends on a few factors. There are many ways to cook chicken, from roasting to grilling to deep-frying, or even cooking in a casserole with veggies in a rich sauce. Many people love chicken cooked in a stir-fry with veggies and Asian sauces. Chicken cooked in a sauce with vegetables is likely to go bad sooner than plain grilled or fried chicken.

However you prefer to cook your chicken, cooked chicken has the potential to go off fairly quickly, so it is important to know how long your cooked chicken can stay out of the fridge and still be safe to eat. 

 

How Long Can I Leave Cooked Chicken Out the Fridge?

In the heat of summer, if the temperature indoors is above 85° Fahrenheit, the maximum length of time that cooked chicken can stay out is about 1 hour. At slightly cooler temperatures, your cooked chicken can stay out for up to 2 hours. Any longer than this and the chicken will start to deteriorate and bacteria will start to multiply.

 

Why Can’t I Leave Cooked Chicken Out For Too Long?

All meat and poultry will go off if left out for too long, but chicken deteriorates at a much faster rate than other meats. Bacteria in food usually thrive and multiply in a moist environment. Chicken is usually soaked in brine and therefore has a higher water content than other meats, making it an ideal breeding ground for food-borne bacteria.

If you leave cooked chicken out for too long, it will most likely become contaminated with nasty bugs like e-Coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. 

 

How Long Can I Keep Cooked Chicken in the Fridge?

Cooked chicken will usually remain fresh and safe to eat for 3-4 days if stored correctly in the fridge. Keep it near the top of the fridge, and far away from raw foods like other meat or chicken.

All raw meat, chicken, and fish contain certain levels of bacteria, but these bacteria will not survive the high temperatures used in cooking, making the food safe to eat once it has been cooked. However, even in the cold environment of the fridge, bacteria can circulate and settle on other foods, causing them to go off. 

 

What Is The Best Way To Store Cooked Chicken?

The best way to store your cooked chicken depends on how it has been cooked. Fried chicken pieces should be divided into small portions and the pieces should be separated by placing cling wrap between them, in order to prevent them from sticking together. They should then be placed in an airtight container or ziplock bags. They should be allowed to cool completely before sealing so that the steam can be released.

Grilled or roasted chickens can be stored either whole or in portions. If you have cut the chicken into portions, store them as for fried chicken. If you have a whole chicken, wrap it up well in aluminum foil. 

A chicken casserole or stew can also be stored in an airtight container. This can be a plastic container with a good seal, but I find it super-convenient to store this kind of cooked chicken dish in an oven-proof dish that has an airtight plastic or silicone seal. Then when you are ready to heat up you can simply remove the seal, cover with foil, and place it in the oven. 

Can Cooked Chicken be Frozen?

Most chicken dishes can be frozen very successfully. Your freezer temperature should be set at 0° Fahrenheit (-18° Celcius) or lower. This is the optimal temperature to store cooked food. When your freezer is cold enough, cooked chicken can be stored for at least 3 months, possibly even longer. 

My freezer is my secret best friend. I love planning ahead for those busy days when I know that chaos will reign and I won’t have time to cook. If I am cooking anyway, I like to double up and freeze. It makes life so much easier knowing that when everyone is hungry and clamoring for dinner, all I have to do is pop a pre-cooked dish in the oven, and we are ready to eat. This is a great time saver, and a fabulous way to minimize the stress of a rough day. 

 

Can I Leave Frozen Cooked Chicken Out to Defrost?

Cooked chicken should never be left out to thaw overnight. Dangerous bacteria can take hold and the chicken will start to go off if left out overnight. It is much safer to take your cooked chicken out of the freezer the night before and leave it to defrost in the fridge.

Cooked chicken can also be defrosted quickly in the microwave, but make sure that it does not become only mildly warm, and then left for longer than a few minutes. Once defrosted, heat it up fully and eat it straight away.

 

How Can I Tell if Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?

There are a few ways to determine whether your chicken is still safe to eat, or if it has gone bad. 

  • Color – Cooked chicken that is off will change color. It will look grey and may develop mold.
  • Smell – Fortunately, we can use our sense of smell to determine if the chicken is off.  Do not risk eating or even just tasting it if you suspect that it is not good. Rather smell it. Cooked chicken that is off will have a rancid, pungent odor.
  • Feel – Don’t be afraid to touch the chicken. If it is off, it will have an unpleasant, slimy coating.

 

Can I Get Sick From Eating Cooked Chicken That Has Been Left Out?

Eating cooked chicken that has been left out for too long can give you a nasty case of food poisoning. If it is only slightly off, you should not get too sick, but may experience some stomach cramping and vomiting.

If the cooked chicken has been left out for a long time, food poisoning can be much more severe. You could get very sick and may need hospital treatment.

 

How Do I Deal With Food Poisoning From Cooked Chicken?

If you leave cooked chicken out for too long and you get food poisoning from it, you will start feeling sick fairly soon after eating it. The first symptoms are usually stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. If you have a mild attack, you will recover on your own, but it is important to drink lots of water in order to prevent dehydration.

If your symptoms don’t clear up and you cannot keep anything down, you should seek medical attention. You may need to be given an intravenous drip to treat you for dehydration, and you will need medication.

If you know how long you can leave cooked chicken out, and you are careful about following good hygiene and safety practices in your food storage and preparation, you should not have to worry about dealing with food poisoning. Even if you leave the chicken out for a short period of time, and it is not too hot indoors, it will still be perfectly safe to eat. 

What Does Pheasant Taste Like? A Guide

what does pheasant taste like

Many people like the idea of eating pheasant because it is seen as a somewhat exotic dish. If you have never eaten it before, are you curious about it? Do you ever think to yourself, what does pheasant taste like?

Pheasant is a type of poultry and is fairly similar in texture and taste to chicken, or turkey. Just like chicken and turkey, it has a combination of both white and dark meat. Pheasant has very little natural fat, so when you cook it, you have to be careful not to let it become too dry, otherwise, it will be bland, tasteless, and tough. But, with the right recipe, if cooked with care, the pheasant can taste absolutely delicious and leave you salivating for more.

Pheasant is best cooked on the bone, with butter and seasonings slipped under the skin, in order to give you a soft, moist and tender dish. Later on in this article, we will look at one or two recipes and methods of cooking pheasant in order to guide you with preparing it in the most delectable way. 

If you called up a gourmet foodie and asked, “What does pheasant taste like?” The reply will be that while pheasant may taste similar to chicken, its true flavor is more like game meat, with a smokey flavor. Wild pheasant has a fairly strong, aromatic flavor. It has quite a distinctive taste. 

If you have ever cooked turkey, you will know that it takes a long time to cook to perfection. I remember my Mom cooking turkey every year for the holidays. The aroma that wafted through the house as the turkey took its time slow-roasting in the oven made us all walk around with our tongues hanging out, nagging for just a quick taste. But my Mom was adamant, saying “Good food takes time to prepare. When it’s ready, the wait will be worth it.”

She was so right about that. And when wondering what pheasant tastes like, the same rule of thumb applies to cooking it. Slow roasting on medium heat, with just the right seasonings and sauces, will give you the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth taste of perfectly cooked pheasant.

Read Related Reading: What Does Foie Gras Taste Like?

Is Pheasant Healthy to Eat?

Pheasant is considered by nutritionists to be an extremely healthy source of protein. With our frenetic lifestyles today, many people often tend to choose the easy way out, eating a lot of fast foods, processed meats, rich dairy products, and foods high in trans-fats. 

It is no secret that making a habit of eating these foods and following this type of diet is a sure way to cause damage to your arteries. There is more and more emphasis today on the importance of following a healthy diet, and the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. 

If you are wondering what pheasant tastes like, you might also like to know that making it a regular part of your diet has many health benefits. It is very lean, making it low in saturated fats. Unlike certain red meats, pheasant will not clog your arteries with fatty deposits. If you suffer from high cholesterol, you can safely allow pheasant to appear regularly on your table.

What Do Pheasants Eat?

what does pheasant taste like

When trying to answer the question, what does pheasant taste like, it is helpful to look at what pheasants themselves eat? I remember an old favorite television advert, from my childhood, for a certain brand of frozen chicken. The slogan was a simple, but highly memorable one. The reason that they taste so good, is because they eat so well. The same principle would apply to pheasants.

In the wild, pheasants eat fruit, seeds, insects, and even small mammals. Farm-reared pheasants are usually fed a healthy diet of mixed grains, corn, and seeds. They are not fed a fatty diet and are not given any meat to eat. The result is that pheasant is a healthy source of lean protein.

In addition to its protein value, pheasant meat is also rich in vitamins B-6 and B-12. It contains essential minerals such as selenium and potassium and is low in sodium. All-in-all, pheasant is not only an exotic and alluring dish. It is also a healthy and nutritious choice.

Can You Eat Pheasant Eggs?

Pheasant eggs are full of healthy nutrients. They are very rich in protein and amino acids and contain high levels of vitamins B and D. There are many delicious ways to cook these eggs, either on their own or as valuable ingredients in other dishes.

What is the Best Way to Cook Pheasant?

Before actually cooking your pheasant, it is necessary to clean it very well. If you buy from a reputable butcher, it should have already been hung for a few days to ensure that the meat is soft and tender. 

Your butcher should also have made sure that your bird has been plucked clean and does not have any stray feathers. When you unwrap it before cooking, even if it looks clean, it is recommended to wash it well by rinsing thoroughly under cold running water. Remember to rinse the inside cavity well, too. You will also want to dry it carefully, in order to prevent the juices from being too watery when you cook it.

Should You Cook Pheasant in the Oven, or on the Stove Top?

You will achieve the best results from slow-roasting your pheasant in the oven at a medium temperature of about 330-350 degrees Fahrenheit. Any hotter than that and your bird will dry out. If you attempt to cook pheasant on the stovetop, the heat of the flame will be too intense and it will not cook evenly. The outside will be hard and dry, while the inside might be under-done.

How Should You Prepare the Pheasant?

what does pheasant taste like

My favorite recipe is so simple and straightforward, but oh so scrumptious! I honestly believe that a recipe does not have to be complicated and intricate, and long and involved, in order to be good. In fact, it is often the simplest and easiest recipes that yield the best results. An added bonus to this recipe is the fact that you literally only dirty two dishes in your kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pheasant
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil or softened butter
  • A little maple syrup
  • A sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Cut up carrot sticks
  • 1 whole onion, peeled

Instructions

First, soak the bird in brine. Make the brine by boiling the water, salt, bay leaves, and sugar. Cover and leave to cool completely. When cool, pour the brine over the bird and place it in the fridge for about 8 hours, or overnight. 

Hint: if you like nice, crispy skin, remove the bird from the brine and leave it uncovered in the fridge for another 4-6 hours.

Take the pheasant out of the fridge and, while it reaches room temperature, preheat your oven to at least 400 degrees. Rub the bird well with olive oil or softened butter. Try to slip some under the skin as well. This will give you lovely golden, crispy skin. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and drizzle very lightly with maple syrup.

Stuff the cavity with the onion, carrot sticks and fresh thyme. Place in a roasting pan and roast uncovered in the oven on high for only fifteen minutes. Take the dish out of the oven, and turn the temperature down to 330-350 degrees. You can leave the oven door slightly ajar to speed up the cooling process. Put the bird back in the oven and roast slowly, also uncovered, for another 30-45 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Take it out of the oven and let it stand for about 10 minutes before carving and serving. 

What Does Pheasant Taste Like When Cooked in a Slow Cooker?

The beauty of the recipe given above is that it is easily adapted to slow-cooking. However, you will need more liquid. Follow all the instructions as above, but before placing in the slow-cooker, brown your bird lightly in a pan with a little hot oil, to give it an appetizing color. Put the pheasant into the slow cooker. You can also add some vegetables, like potatoes and pumpkin or baby marrows. Now you will need some liquid to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Take 3-4 cups of good quality chicken stock. Add a generous splash of sherry. Cover the cooker and allow it to cook on low for about 8-10 hours.

How Do You Carve A Pheasant?

Carving a pheasant is much the same as carving a chicken. The trick is to use a very sharp knife. Place your fork in the centre of the breast and slice downwards in a short quick motion. The meat should come away from the bone. If the breast pieces are very large you can slice them up into smaller pieces. Now cut off the wings, and separate the legs and thighs. Serve with a selection of vegetables to suit your taste.

You are now ready to pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, and tuck in and enjoy a mouthwatering, healthy meal!

 

Read Other Related Reading: What does Cauliflower Taste Like? The Many Tastes and Colors – a Guide

How to Make Potato Chips in the Oven without Oil – A Guide

how to make potato chips in oven without oil

Most people I know share my love for potato chips. Sadly, the store-bought versions of this delectable snack are not very healthy, because they are all made with oil. But what if you knew how to make potato chips in the oven without oil? When I learned how to do this, it was a real game-changer for me. 

Potato chips come in many varieties. There are lots of different brands on store shelves, all competing to catch your eye, tempt your tastebuds, and find their way into your shopping basket. When you stroll down the snacks aisle of your local supermarket, you will see that potato chips dominate. 

The most popular ones are the straight cut, plain salted variety, but you have so many other options. Crinkle cut, potato sticks, potato puff balls, an array of flavors like salt and vinegar, barbecue, sour cream and onion, hot chili pepper, Mexican spice, pickled onion, and the list goes on. 

Then there are all the alluring packages. Shiny foil bags, brightly colored pictures, familiar brand logos, tall cardboard tubes…I can picture myself walking down that aisle, looking at all of these, and I start salivating at the thought of that crunchy deliciousness in my mouth.

I’m sure that by now you have guessed that I REALLY love potato chips. But all of those scrumptious brands, types and flavors have one thing in common: they are all cooked in oil. 

Check this Related Article: How to Reheat Leftover Quiche – A Guide to Store, Freeze, and Reheat

Why are Potato Chips so Unhealthy?

how to make potato chips in oven without oil

Because all of your favorite potato chips are cooked in oil, they are loaded with unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats are a particularly dangerous form of fat because they not only raise LDL (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol), but they also lower HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol). Trans fat increases blood triglyceride levels. This causes damage to the arteries and can ultimately lead to a heart attack. No matter how much you might love potato chips, I think you will agree that it is not worth risking your life for them.

 

Is there a healthier option?

Fortunately, there is a healthier way to enjoy your favorite snack. A  guilt-free version can be yours to enjoy once you learn how to make potato chips in the oven without oil. It is really quite simple to do, as long as you have the right tools and equipment.

What do I need?

Luckily, you most probably already have these items in your kitchen. You need the following:

  • Two large, flat baking trays
  • A sharp vegetable peeler
  • Parchment paper
  • A food processor with a mandoline slicer attachment

What if I don’t have a food processor?

You can manage without a food processor, but you will then need a very sharp knife and a little more time.

What kind of potatoes should I use?

There are numerous different varieties of potatoes available. The one that I like to use to make potato chips in the oven without oil is called the Yukon Gold. But you can use any type that you like. It’s basically a personal preference. Some varieties are seasonal, and may also be area-dependent. But one thing that they all have in common is that they are actually a very healthy vegetable. 

So many people are under the false impression that potatoes are bad for you, but this is large because of the unhealthy methods that are used to prepare them. It is usually the added oil, butter, or sauces that are unhealthy, and not the potatoes themselves. Potatoes are filled with healthy nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They contain potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and fiber. These are all an important part of a normal, healthy diet. 

A step-by-step guide for how to make potato chips in the oven without oil:

how to make potato chips in oven without oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash the potatoes well and dry them thoroughly. 
  3. Prepare your baking trays by lining them with parchment paper.
  4. Peel the potatoes.
  5. Put them through the food processor, slicing them into thin slices. If you don’t have a food processor, slice carefully with a very sharp knife. Your slices should be 2-3 mm thick.
  6. Lay the potato slices out on the baking trays, taking care not to let them overlap at all. If they do, the chips will not crisp up and will remain soft and soggy.
  7. Place the trays in a hot oven.
  8. After 20 minutes, rotate the trays to ensure even heat distribution.
  9. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and crisp. (Watch them carefully, as they can burn easily)
  10. Immediately after removing from the oven, sprinkle generously with the seasoning of your choice. 

What seasonings are the most suitable for home-made, oil-free potato chips?

What seasoning to use depends mostly on what flavors appeal to your taste buds. There are so many different options available. The most common way to season potato chips is with plain fine salt. However, many people enjoy more spicy flavors. Here are a few suggestions, but you can use anything that you have in the spice rack that appeals to you.

  • Salt and vinegar
  • Barbecue spice
  • Paprika
  • Chilli spice
  • Thai sweet curry powder
  • Fresh herbs
  • Powdered parmesan cheese
  • Cheddar cheese powder
  • Dried onion powder
  • Dried mushroom powder

You might want to be a little adventurous and experiment with different combinations of some of the above seasonings and spices, such as parmesan cheese mixed with a little mushroom powder, or, for those of you with a sweet tooth, cinnamon and sugar. My personal favorite is a mixture of cheddar cheese powder with dried onion powder. That sensation of the mingling of flavors on your tongue will leave you wanting to make another batch.

Hint: This is why I always make at least two trays at a time. One does not go very far!

Whatever flavor you choose, I am sure that now that you know how to make potato chips in the oven without oil, your family will thank you forever and this crunchy, healthy snack will become a firm favorite in your household.

Read Other Related Reading: How to Cook Deer Ribs: A Comprehensive Guide

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