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|Cooking Tips: Meat, Seafood & Poultry|
Bacon: Rinse bacon under cold water before frying. This reduces the amount the bacon shrinks by almost 50%. To quickly and easily make real "bacon bits", hold slices of raw bacon over a frying pan, cut off little pieces into the pan with kitchen shears, then brown, stirring often; drain off grease.
Chicken Breasts: The best buy at the supermarket is to purchase a large bag (usually 3-4 pounds) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the freezer section, rather than buying it a pound at a time from the fresh meats section. This saves me about $15.00 a month or more.
Marinating Meats: Lemon and lime juice and vinegar aren't the only things that work well as marinades. I use kiwi fruit, either sliced, mashed, or juiced. For sliced, lay the meat over the slices and lay slices over the top of the meat as well. Allow 2-4 hours to marinate. For a faster method, mash or juice the kiwi and use in marinade as a substitute for lemon, lime, or vinegar. This method only takes about 1/2 hour for tender meat. I also use unseasoned meat tenderizer powder (found in the spices section of the supermarket) for the times I just don't have time to marinade meat.
Meatballs: When making many meatballs a fast and simple way is to shape the meat mixture into a log and cut off slices. The slices roll easily into balls. Another option is to pat the meat into a square and cut it into cubes which again easily roll into meatballs of uniform size.
Meatloaf: Meatloaf will cook faster if you make it in small rounded loaves or even in muffin cups. Muffin cups make reheating leftovers a breeze!
Thawing A Turkey: The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator (in its original packaging on a shallow baking sheet). You should allow approx. 24 hours for every 5 lbs. of bird weight. The refrigerated method is safest and will result in the best finished product. For accelerated thawing, thaw the bird in cold water (in its original wrapping). The cold water must be changed every 30 minutes. Allow approx. 30 minutes per pound.
Breading Meats: To bread chicken cutlets and other ingredients: Use one hand for wet ingredients and another for dry when breading - that way you won't bread your hands along with dinner. To coat chicken pieces or stew-meat pieces chicken in flour or crumbs: Place the coating mixture in a plastic bag (zip-top is the most convenient), add the chicken or beef, seal, and shake until the coated. Shake off any excess coating before you cook the chicken or beef.
Grill With Lean Meats: Unless specified for a particular recipe, always us the leanest meat possible when grilling. It's healthier, will reduce flare-ups, and help keep your cooking equipment cleaner.
Room-Temperature Meats: Allow meat to stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking: It will cook more quickly, brown more evenly, and stick less when pan-fried. (Do not do this with highly perishable meats like ground beef and organ meats.)
Pan-Fried Meats: For even, deep browning of pan-fried meat and poultry: Blot the surface of the item with paper towels to remove excess moisture before cooking.
Roasting Poultry: Do not roast poultry in a oven temperature lower than 325 degrees. Poultry should be roasted at 325 degrees or higher to avoid potential food safety problems.
Roasts and Brisket: Roasts should be allowed to "rest" 10-15 minutes after being removed from the oven. This allows the juices to settle before carving.
Preparing Meats For Cooking: Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks and roasts during cooking to preserve juiciness. Trim fat after cooking. Pat steaks, cubes and pot roasts dry with paper toweling for better browning. To make cutting into strips for stir-frying easier, partially freeze beef to firm. Salt beef after cooking or browning; salt draws out moisture and inhibits browning.
Grilling On Skewers: When using wooden skewers for kebabs, soak in cold water for 10-30 minutes to prevent them from burning. Thread shrimp onto skewers lengthwise so they won't curl as they grill. They're also less likely to fall into the fire.
Whole Fish: Scale a fish easily by rubbing vinegar over its skin. To neatly bake a whole fish, wrap in aluminum foil. When done cooking, open the foil and gently slide a spatula under the fish.
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