In my mind--even though all these things are very important--the bottom line is flavor. A beautiful plate of fresh, nutritious, local ingredients doesn't mean anything unless it tastes good, right?
So I thought I'd write a few posts with some tips about how to help the flavor of your foods be the best that they can be. As usual, thanks go to my old standby, Cook's Illustrated magazine for some of these tips.
I hope it helps!
Today, I'll be writing about things that you can do to improve the flavor of your food before you start cooking.
- Speaking of garlic, always remove any green sprouts from a garlic clove before chopping or mincing. It doesn't mean you can't use the rest of the clove, but the bitterness of the green part can really ruin a dish.
- Many recipes call for the removal of the seeds and that jelly-like stuff in the middle of a tomato. Sometimes it's for good reason--usually to cut down on moisture in the dish. But most of the flavor can be found in the guts of the tomato, so if can, use the whole thing.
- When marinating meat, poke the meat all over with a fork. This allows the marinade to penetrate deeper into the meat--and gives flavor to the whole thing.
- Marinating in a zip-top bag is a great way to marinate. Squeezing out the air not only allows you to get the marinade more in contact with the food, but also gets the food flavored up in less time. If a bag doesn't quite work for the food you're making, marinate in a baking dish covered with plastic wrap. Either way, flipping the bag or turning the food halfway through the marinating time will help make sure the everything has been in contact with the flavor.
- You've probably heard that fat equals flavor. That's especially true with meats. When making stew, it's OK to trim hard fat and other tissue from stew beef. There's plenty of fat in the meat to keep it flavorful and moist. Pork is a different story. Since pork doesn't have the marbling that beef does, keep a thin layer of fat on the pork. It will melt during cooking, adding flavor and moisture.