A Partridge in a pear tree.....
Cooking for the festive season is a thing of joy for me, but it's not always been that way. Getting to grips with timing the various components of a meal so that they come together at the right moment filled me with dread, the peas were always last to go on and frequently forgotten, boiling away happily while we ate our meal only to be found whilst clearing away!
We all know that feeling of doubt about correct cooking times for meat, is it 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 20....or 30 ??
Will the roast potatoes have that enviable softness to the inside but crispy golden outer?
These questions rear their heads in many kitchen across the country at this time of year, we will, through the course of this Blog, endeavour to dispel the myths and give good useable tips for creating a stress free cooking experience...
Now don't let this phrase confuse the issue, but steam cooking can be used to either replace or enhance your usual cooking methods, as well as adding a whole new skill set to your culinary repertoire.
I was recently asked to produce this guide below for a first time steam oven owner, for this first Blog entry I thought it suitable to introduce the idea of full steam cooking, we will cover Steam Combination etc in the following days.
Steam Cooking- the essential guide.
Anything you cook in full steam will probably come out after cooking looking exactly as it did when it went in.
Poultry will look as pale, Pork will look just a little less pink than it does when raw, Lamb and Beef will be a greyish colour, but rest assured the food will be cooked through. You will notice that these types of meat are visibly “plumper” than when cooked with a dry heat, as they are being continually infused with 100 degree steam and so not shrunken by the evaporation process which usually occurs. Cook meat in a solid container, or on the wire rack in a universal tray (grey tray)
Vegetables will retain their colours ( and therefore all their vitamins and nutrients), all veg will benefit from being steam cooked and roasted veg with crispy skins can be achieved by using the steam and heat programmes ….more on them later. Veg should be cooked in a perforated tray for full steam and then a solid container of any type for crisping or cooking with a sauce or marinade.
Pasta and rice are especially suited to steam cooking, especially in large quantities. Rice and pasta are placed in a solid container with 1 part ingredient and 2 parts water. Auto programmes are available but as a rule 20-30 minutes for dried pasta/rice, 5 minutes for fresh pasta or couscous.
Shellfish and fish are also highly suited to steam cooking, White fish will never dry out, salmon won’t have the white protein leaking out of it and prawns won’t shrink to the size of shrimp. In either a solid or perforated container is fine.
Fruit is wonderful to experiment with, blanch tomatoes, peppers, apples, peaches, plums and all manner of other fruit in a perforated container for easy peeling to make sauces or jams etc. Berries can be steamed in a solid container to make them easy to puree or preserve.
As a general rule.
If you don’t want any other moisture to gather in your container while cooking i.e. marinated dishes, risotto or stew. Always cover with cling-film or foil.
If using the perforated tray place a solid baking tray (the grey or black ones supplied with your oven) on the lowest shelf to catch any juices that you don’t want to have to clear up off your oven floor.
Also remember that 100 degree steam can effectively sanitize almost anything. Any metal utensils will be suitable to place in on a hygiene programme or 20 mins on full steam. Face cloths are great when steamed for clean ups or cloths for a boil wash type result. Jars and bottles can also be sterilized.
ANYTHING YOU CAN BOIL ON THE HOB CAN BE COOKED IN A STEAM OVEN.
Also, if you are interested in further more adventurous recipes please follow the link below
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