They invited us into their kitchens. After years of culinary training and manicuring of cooking skills, useful tricks are discovered and employed. I asked five chefs of Southwest Colorado to share with us a savvy tip, also known as a hack, that makes their culinary lives run a bit smoother. Read below for their culinary hackery.
Chef Jeremy Storm / The Container @ Ska Brewing Company / Durango, CO
Fresh lime juice is an important ingredient for The Container’s jerk marinade recipe, sauces & vinaigrettes. Chef Jeremy Storm shared with us a simple technique to get all of the juice out of citrus fruits.
First, make sure that the citrus you are juicing is at room temperature ( it’s easier this way.) After washing the fruit, roll the fruit over a counter top or cutting board, applying firm pressure evenly. The pressure will begin to break down the fruit membrane; you will notice how it will start to feel squishy within its shell. Then it is time to juice the fruit. You will notice that there is a higher yield of juice when using this tenderizing method; coercing the juice out will be much easier. Talk about juicing them for all that they are worth & really putting the squeeze on em’! * Take this tip home with you, perfect when making margaritas and mojitos.
Chef Dennis Morrisroe / Seasons of Durango / Durango, CO
This is such a major team player in the restaurant’s salad dressings & vinaigrettes. When I think of a garlic purée, I think of ‘a long time mincing’ or a food processor. Check out this method…
Peel the garlic and chop into small, manageable pieces. Sprinkle kosher salt on top of the garlic, generously. Using a chef’s knife, use the side of the blade to smash down and then drag the garlic & repeat. Smashing down on the garlic ignites the flavor and odor of the garlic and the salt does this miraculous thing. As you smash down the blade, the salt grinds the garlic into a puree, pulverizing it. This purée is fun to create! Finish by mincing for desired consistency.
Chef Lucas Price / La Cocina de Luz / Telluride, CO
They can be really messy. After roasting, peeling and stuffing the anaheim or poblano peppers (anaheims have lucas’s vote) with cheese, they would then place the peppers directly in the fryer (for the majority that does not use fryers, same thing goes for pan frying with at least 1 inch of oil.) To their horror, the peppers would open up and the cheese would escape, creating a sputtering, cheesy mess.
To solve this problem, after roasting, peeling and stuffing peppers, freeze them. Then when it is time to dip the frozen rellenos in the egg batter, the batter ends up sticking better to the frozen pepper. Plus, the peppers hold their integrity when frying. After savoring a relleno from Cocina de luz, I must say that what they are doing is working, deliciously. ¡Qué sabroso! (How tasty!)
Chef Vera Hansen/ Cyprus Cafe /Durango, CO
For a restaurant that is working with a tasty flux of fresh herbs and greens, this technique is used constantly. Chopping herbs and greens can cause them to bruise. This is a a tried and true technique, a hack that has been used over time, chances are once you try it, you will be doing it a lot.
Chiffonade refers to a slicing technique where greens are cut into long strips. Vera demonstrated this technique with spinach and lemon balm. Wash the chosen greens, remove stems, then stack leaves on top of one another and roll up long ways. Then, slice perpendicularly, creating long, loved slices. Another way, for greens that are wispier, such as parsley, is to roll it all up in a ball and slice while applying pressure. This helps in minimizing the bruising and saves time. This technique can be used for salads, garnishes and has an extremely plush future in my kitchen. * Remember to save stems for stock!
Chef Joe Goulet / The Farm Bistro / Cortez, CO
Cutting corn off the cob (from ear to ear)
With corn soon to be in season and plentiful, Chef Joe Goulet shared a technique for corn that is mighty efficient. It seems to be corn’s nature to fly all over the place when slicing it off of the cob.
Next time, take a small bowl and place it upside down inside of a large bowl. Stand the cob up in the middle of the upside down bowl and slice the corn off of the cob with a knife, the kernels will land safely in the bowl instead of flying all directions. Make sure that the larger bowl you select is large enough so that you can slice down the entire ear of corn, from ear to ear. Another corn related tip from Joe Goulet is to save the cob for vegetable stock. It contains a lot of milky substance that flavors vegetable stock in such delicious way.