Tip of the Week: Patience is Key

A lot of times I have a problem with being patient in the kitchen. More often than not, I really just want to get a meal done as quick as possible. I will cook things faster on high heat, or cut vegetables smaller so they cook quicker. Most of the time, I don’t have much time, so I don’t get impatient. However, there are definitely times when a certain dish takes a lot of time, and patience is quite necessary. I have a problem with being patient, especially when I have a lot of time to kill. It is hard for me to wait for something, even if I know it will be worth the wait.

There are a few things that shouldn’t be rushed. There are three that are most important in my opinion. One of those being vegetable stock. In culinary school, we made vegetable stock from scratch, and it was incredibly time consuming, but it was necessary to develop the flavors. Stock is one of those things that shouldn’t be rushed. If the vegetables are cut too small or the liquid is boiling too hard, the vegetables begin to break down. As a result, the stock will have bits of vegetables after straining, which isn’t ideal for some sauces. The same thing happens when stock is made in a pressure cooker. The vegetables break down a lot easier, and the stock is left with bits of mushy vegetables. Another thing that shouldn’t be rushed is cooking beans, especially for a salad. When using beans in their whole form, they should be intact and the skins shouldn’t be broken or peeling off. It looks nicer from a presentation stand point, and they hold up to stirring after cooking better. The way to do that is to simmer the beans instead of keeping them in rapidly boiling water. If the beans are going to be used for a burger, patty, mash, or puree, then they can be cooked in water that is boiling rapidly, or in a pressure cooker. The last thing that shouldn’t be rushed is the thickening of sauce. A lot of times sauces are either reduced, thickened with a roux, or thickened with a slurry (water and starch mixture). If reducing a sauce, a low simmer is best, because when a mixture is boiling, it can reduce too quickly towards the end and easily become over reduced or burnt. When a sauce is thickened with a roux, it should also be cooked slowly with constant whisking. If it isn’t being constantly whisked or on a lower heat, then it will stick to the bottom or become lumpy. If a sauce is thickened with a slurry, then a couple things can happen if it is cooked on a higher heat. It can quickly bubble over and create a mess. It can also stick to the bottom of the pan, just like with a roux.

To me, those are the three most important things to have patience with in the kitchen. It will be worth it in the end. I know I have become inpatient with all of those things and had less than ideal results. It is always better to make time to prepare certain things the right way, than to rush and achieve less than perfect results.

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