Each month we ask our food­ies for their ex­pert tips and ideas for our kitchen queries.

taste.com.au - - THIS MONTH -

Your curly kitchen ques­tions an­swered by our team of ex­perts.


Q How do you make gravy from scratch? Trans­fer your roasted meat to a warm place to rest and tip the pan juices and any ren­dered fat into a heat­proof bowl. Place the roast­ing pan over medium heat and deglaze with a cup of white wine (for chicken, fish or pork) or red wine (for beef or lamb). Use ver­juice or a vine­gar/ wa­ter, cit­rus juice/wa­ter combo if you don’t use al­co­hol (though it will burn off as you deglaze). When it’s re­duced and taken up the bur­nished bits on the base of the pan, stir in a lit­tle of the ren­dered fat and a spoon­ful of corn­flour. Stir un­til it’s a tan colour, then slowly stir in the pan juices. Add stock or wa­ter to get the de­sired con­sis­tency. The flour will thicken it grad­u­ally, so go slow. Sea­son it with salt and an acidic in­gre­di­ent, to taste.


Q What cuts of meat should I slow cook? Se­condary cuts of meat, which typ­i­cally have more flavour than pri­mary or ten­der cuts, re­ally come into their own when given the low and slow treat­ment. My top choices for beef are gravy beef (bone­less beef shin), osso buco (bone-in shin), chuck steak and brisket. Pork shoul­der is my pick for pulled pork. It’s of­ten sold as a pork shoul­der roast, and can be diced for cur­ries or slow-roasted whole, too. You’ll also find it sliced into pork ‘scotch fil­let steaks’, which you can dice for slow-braised dishes. There are end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties with the hum­ble chicken mary­land, whether slow-cooked in a Moroc­can tagine or slowly braised in an Ital­ian to­mato sauce.


Q Why are my scones dry and tough? ‘Gen­tly does it’ is your motto with scones, as they re­quire a very light touch. One key er­ror is be­ing heavy-handed with the dough. Only use the tips of your fin­gers to rub in the but­ter, lightly lift­ing and drop­ping the mix­ture. (I use very cold but­ter, grated in­stead of chopped, to speed this up.) When pat­ting the dough into a disc, do it quickly and lightly. As for cook­ing, they’re done if they sound hol­low when tapped – avoid over­cook­ing. Take them out and cover with a tea towel to help them steam as they cool slightly.


Q Can I cook a nor­mal recipe in a slow cooker? Many stews can be mod­i­fied for a slow cooker. Liq­uid in­creases in a slow cooker due to con­den­sa­tion (in­stead of evap­o­rat­ing), so you need to re­duce the liq­uid in the recipe by half. You’ll also need to sim­mer it (on High or the Sim­mer set­ting) at the end with the lid off to thicken the sauce. Brown meat in a fry­ing pan be­fore adding it, too, for ex­tra flavour.


Q How do I avoid cur­dled creamy soup? Over­heat­ing is us­ally the cul­prit. Soups with cream are best cooked over low heat. The safest way to add small quan­ti­ties of dairy (up to 13 ⁄ cup) is to re­move the soup from the heat and stir it in. If you’re adding more than this, keep the soup on a very low heat – no boil­ing! Or, use crème fraîche or cream for cook­ing, which are de­signed to with­stand heat and won’t cur­dle.

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