11 May 2022
Perfect your culinary skills with these tips from the chef
Tips and tricks to become an even better Big Green Egg home chef!
Are you always in awe of how easily professional chefs are able to tie up meat, cut vegetables julienne style or brunoise style, or remove the skin of a fish fillet in a flash? As a Big Green Egg home chef, you can too! You just have to know how. With these handy tips and tricks, you can perfect your cooking skills and cook like a professional chef from now on!
Tying a chicken: how and why?
When you cook a whole chicken, the breasts will cook faster than the legs. Tying the chicken will prevent that from happening and keep all the parts of your chicken nice and juicy. Tying it keeps the legs close to the breasts to protect them from drying out as you cook your chicken. If you’re cooking a whole chicken on a spit, tying the chicken will keep the legs from hanging loose as it rotates. It doesn’t matter much how you tie the chicken, as long as the legs are up against the breasts.
How to dice an onion without crying
When dicing an onion, you break open the cells, releasing the substance that makes your eyes water. Cutting the onion with a razor-sharp knife will keep the cells more intact. Here’s an easy way to dice your onion: Cut the stem off the onion and remove the skin and the membrane; keep the root side intact. Halve the onion lengthwise and place the two halves on your cutting board, cut side down. Cut the onion halves lengthwise every couple of millimetres or so, depending on how finely or coarsely you want to dice it, and then cut crosswise. Keeping the root side intact will keep the onion from falling apart while chopping. Always dice an onion right before using it. Once an onion has been cut, it will start to oxidise.
When to tie up meat (as a roulade)?
You can tie up a filled roulade, but also the larger and uneven pieces of meat, using butcher’s twine. This gives the meat a more even shape and a more compact structure so that it cooks evenly. When tying up the meat, make sure the twine is evenly spaced across the meat so that the pressure of the twine is evenly distributed.
How to separate an egg
If you’re making your own mayonnaise with yolks only, or if you have a recipe that calls for egg whites only, properly separating your eggs is generally a must. Egg whites with a trace of yolk in them are not great for whipping. So it is important to make sure you get the entire yolk out.
The main tip is to not separate all your eggs over one bowl: use a smaller bowl for each egg. Then add the egg whites to the larger bowl. That way, if you accidentally get some egg yolk into your egg white, it won’t ruin all the egg whites you already separated. Also: eggs kept in the refrigerator are easier to separate because a cold egg yolk is more solid.
How to cut and portion a whole chicken
If you want to use different preparations on one whole chicken, cut it into technical parts first and then portion out the parts of the chicken. Then, you can for example stew the drumsticks and the cutlets (or the entire legs), smoke the wings and grill the chicken fillets in the Big Green Egg using the Cast Iron Skillet or the Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Since you can’t cut through the legs, find the joint in between each part and then cut through the cartilage on the joint. Then cut the fillets off the carcass. You can reuse the carcass as a base for a nice broth or sauce, so you don’t have to waste a single part of your chicken!
An easy way to clean a chilli pepper
Do you like using a whole chilli pepper in a dish? You can also remove the stalks and seeds to take out the spiciest parts. Big Green Egg Executive Chef Michel has the ultimate tip to quickly and easily clean your chilli pepper. Use your palms to roll a whole chilli pepper back and forth while exerting a little pressure. Cut the stem off the top and tap and roll the seeds out. If you want to make your dish spicier, just leave the seeds in.
Removing the scales and skin for fish fillet
If you want to fry your dish fish fillet until crispy, leave the skin on. But do remove the scales if you want to eat the skin before preparing the fish fillet. To do so, you can use something like a clean, coarse scrubbing pad or a scallop shell. Make sure to place the fish in cold water so you don’t get the scales everywhere. If you want to stew or poach the fish fillet, remove the skin and the scales in one go. To do so, place the fish fillet on a cutting board with the skin down and hold the skin in place. Place your filleting knife on the skin at a 45-degree angle to the fillet from the tail end; make sure the cutting surface of your knife is touching the cutting board. Make short cutting movements while pulling on the skin until you’ve removed the skin.
How to quickly peel tomatoes
If you want to use tomatoes in a dish that is only cooked for a short time, or a cold dish, it may be a good idea to peel them. When you only heat the tomatoes for a short time, the skins stay quite firm. When they are heated for a longer period of time, the heat will soften the skins. To peel tomatoes, first remove the crowns and cut a cross shape on the bottom side using a sharp knife. Submerge the tomatoes in softly boiling water for about 10 seconds and then submerge in ice-cold water. This will stop the cooking process and make the skin come off (even) more easily.
How to prepare duck breast
Place the duck breast on a cutting board with the fat layer facing down. Cut any membranes off of the meat side of the duck breast and use the tip of your knife to remove the vein from the breast; the vein does not run through the whole breast. If you don’t remove the vein, a dark red spot may appear after preparation that adds a bitter taste. Neatly cut the excess fat off the sides of the duck breast. You can keep this excess fat to use later (for frying potatoes, for example). Turn the duck breast over, meat side down, and score the fat in a hatched pattern. Make sure to only cut into the fat and not the meat. The closer together the incisions are, the more fat will melt when it’s cooked and the crispier your result will be.
Roasting and peeling a bell pepper
You can roast a bell pepper on the grill or right on the charcoal of your Big Green Egg. This will really release the bell pepper’s deliciously sweet flavours. The temperature of the EGG isn’t that important, but it is essential for the bell pepper to get enough heat. Otherwise the skin won’t loosen. Place the bell pepper on the charcoal or on the grill and close the lid of the EGG. Turn the pepper occasionally until the skin has blackened on all sides. Remove the pepper from the EGG, put it in a sealed plastic bag and leave for about 10 minutes. The steam trapped in the bag will make the bell pepper easy to take apart, and easy to remove the seeds and the skin.
How to: breaded meat
Cut your meat, e.g. chicken, into equal parts and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle some flour in a deep dish, beat an egg white in a separate dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs in a third dish. The flour is to make the egg white stick. Sometimes, you can use a whole egg to bread meat, but egg whites only will get you crispier results. First dip the chicken pieces in the flour and tap to remove any excess. Then coat in the egg whites and then coat in the bread crumbs.
How to cut julienne
Harder vegetables that need to be cooked quickly during short preparation are best cut julienne style: into thin strips. For when you want to stew them or stir-fry them, for example. First, cut the vegetable into equal planks and then into equal ‘matchsticks’ so the julienne are equally thick. A chef’s knife is best for this. This not only makes the vegetables delicious, it also makes your dish look restaurant-worthy!
How to cut brunoise
Instead of julienne, you could also cut your harder vegetables brunoise style, which is tiny cubes. First, cut the vegetables into julienne and then cut them into equal brunoise cubes. The official dimensions for cutting brunoise are 0.5 x 0.5 cm. Practice makes perfect: you’ll be a real knife skills pro before you know it!
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