People suddenly have a lot of forced time to stay home. And people who eat every meal have fewer options to do so.
The result? Hopefully people who have never cooked before are thinking about cooking.
We are talking about absolute beginners, people who have never even turned on the stove before.
We thought that this week we would pay attention to those people, to novice cooks who do not know the shovel from the rolling pin. I’ve made four simple, basic recipes that are easy to recover and hard to spoil.
They don’t have many ingredients. They don’t have many steps. And each of them introduces the first-time chef to another, easy-to-master technique that can be used in countless other recipes.
Most importantly, each of them prepares hearty and hearty food. Even if your culinary skills improve – and they will – you will want to come back to them again and again.
Four methods: stewing, baking, stewing and frying.
Quenching is the preparation of a liquid at a relatively high temperature, but not so high that it boils. When the liquid boils, small bubbles rise to the surface.
Cooking over low heat provides two desired actions during cooking: some of the water in the liquid evaporates, which enhances the taste of the remaining liquid and often thickens it; and the flavors of the liquid ingredients have the ability to blend harmoniously.
I made a very simple tomato sauce that takes full advantage of these actions. The sauce is not only simple, it also has the bright pure flavor I so desire. Honestly, this is my favorite pasta sauce, and I usually don’t garnish it in any way.
I use canned whole tomatoes that I grind by hand, but you can also use canned shredded tomatoes, mashed tomatoes or diced tomatoes (don’t use stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce). Hand-chopped tomatoes get great flavors and rustic sauce, but you get the same great taste from any of the varieties. Canned tomatoes, diced, do not break down so much in the sauce, and they will remain a little firmer than other varieties.
Roasting is the preparation of meat or vegetables in the oven (technically on fire) in an uncovered pan without liquid. Meat or vegetables are cooked completely and evenly due to the dry heat of the surrounding air.
I baked a piece of pork – it turned out to be a fillet, but it doesn’t matter. The best slices for baking are those that are not used in other ways, such as chops and ribs. Many people like to bake pork loin because it is quite uniform in size, so it is prepared all at once. Do not confuse it with the cuttings, which will dry very quickly if it is digested at all.
I cooked my roast in a classic way, with sauerkraut and apples. It’s also very simple – just three ingredients as well as salt and pepper. And yet, the flavors blend in one wonderful way, the sweetness of pork and apples playing a salty hue of sauerkraut. It is comfortable food that is unusually comforting.
Stewing is the cooking of meat (and sometimes vegetables) in a small to medium amount of liquid in a covered pan or skillet. The food is prepared over a humid fire and is ideal for eating with large chunks of fairly tough meat. Prolonged slow quenching at low temperature will make it brittle and moist.
Despite its name, fried in a pot is not fried at all; it’s actually stew (which is needed to make tough meat turn out delicious). There are a million ways to do this, but I chose a method that is perhaps the most basic and simple.
I threw a big piece of beef in the pan – it was a round roast with a lid because it was the cheapest, but any beef sliced with the word “fried” would do. I added two carrots sliced 2 inches long, two ribs of celery sliced 2 inches, one onion sliced, a jar of beef broth and a sprig of oregano.
I covered it, put it in the oven at 300 degrees for about three hours, and when I got it, it was amazing. Then I cut a couple of slices and put them on homemade toast and it was more amazing.
Frying is the cooking of meat in a frying pan at a high temperature until the surface that touches the pan becomes a deep brown hue.
The brown color indicates that the sugar contained in the meat is actually caramelized, which gives the meat a warm and rich taste.
Frying meat, however, does not cook it, at least no more than just a bare surface. If you leave the meat on high heat longer than you need to fry, you will only set it on fire.
Therefore, fried meat should be cooked in a different way. One of my favorite dishes is chicken, which is first fried and then stewed. It is the best of all worlds. The chicken first gains depth from roasting and roasting and then saturates with the aroma of the stew.
I used white wine, but the water works surprisingly well (it creates its own chicken broth for stewing); you can even drink beer. I also added a sprig of fresh tarragon because its sweet licorice flavor is incredibly a perfect flavoring for chicken, but a few other herbs – fresh or dried – will work just as well.
Nothing so simple should be so good.
LIGHT SAUCE SPAGHETTI
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion, see
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed, see
1 can of tomatoes (28 ounces) – whole, mashed, chopped or diced, see
Salt and pepper to taste
Note: To peel onions or garlic, remove the paper outer layer. To chop the onion, cut it into small pieces. A clove of garlic is one kidney; the whole garlic is called the head. To crush a clove of garlic, place it under the flat side of the knife and slap your hand on the other side of the knife.
If you use whole tomatoes, cut off the stiff leg with a knife and crush each tomato with your hands.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When heated, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring, to lose weight for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes with their juice. Reduce heat to low or very low; the sauce should be cooked uncovered over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how thick you like it. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm to a paste with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.
Per serving: 97 calories; 4 g of fat; 1 g of saturated fat; lack of cholesterol; 3 g of protein; 15 g of carbohydrates; 9 g of sugar; 4 g of fiber; 408 mg of sodium; 70 mg of calcium
Adapted from a recipe from Frank Pellegrin’s Rao’s Cookbook
LIGHT ROAST OF PORK WITH SAUCE CABBAGE AND APPLES
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1½ pound roast pork or loin (not chops, ribs or tenderloin)
¼ teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste
1 can of sauerkraut (14.5 ounces) or 2 cups of fresh sauerkraut, washed and dried
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and place in a pan.
Grate the apples (not the core) or chop finely with a knife. If you get tired of rubbing or chopping, one of the apples can be cut into slices. Mix the apples and sauerkraut in a medium bowl and arrange around the pork.
Cook for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle of the meat records 145 degrees.
Per serving (based on 4): 350 calories; 15 g of fat; 3 g of saturated fat; 109 mg cholesterol; 36 g of protein; 17 g of carbohydrates; 11 g of sugar; 5 g of fiber; 906 mg of sodium; 51 mg of calcium
Recipe by Mary Ann Picrone
Yield: 8 servings
2½ to 3 pounds of roast beef
¾ teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper, about 25 pepper grinds
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 2 inches
2 ribs celery cut into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 parts, see
1 jar (14.5 ounces) beef broth
2 sources of fresh oregano, thyme or rosemary, or
½ teaspoon dried
Note: to peel the onion, remove the paper outer layer and the living leg.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Remove all large fat deposits from the meat if possible. Sprinkle all the meat with salt and pepper. Place in a large heavy saucepan with a lid (Dutch oven is best). Sprinkle carrots, celery and onions around the meat. Add broth and greens. Cover and cook in the oven for 2.5-3 hours until the meat is tender. To serve, cut across the grain.
Per serving: 344 calories; 25 g of fat; 10 g of saturated fat; 101 mg of cholesterol; 26 g of protein; 4 g of carbohydrates; 2 g of sugar; 1 g of fiber; 449 mg of sodium; 33 mg of calcium
Daniel Neman’s recipe
EASY ROASTED AND STEWED CHICKEN
Yield: 2 servings
2 chicken breasts, 2 quarters legs or 4 hips
½ teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste
½ tablespoons oil if
1 glass of dry white wine or water
2 sprigs of fresh tarragon, rosemary or thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the pan large enough to keep the chicken in one layer over medium heat. Spray the pan with a non-stick spray or lightly grease with oil. When hot, place the chicken skin side down on the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the other side turns brown, another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the liquid (it should boil immediately) and greens. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the chicken until cooked through, about 40 minutes for the breast and 50 minutes for the legs or hips. Add more liquid when it has boiled. To check if the chicken is cooked, make a small incision at least in half – there should be no visible roses. Serve with sauce from a frying pan to meat or with a side dish.
Per serving: 346 calories; 20 g of fat; 5 g of saturated fat; 111 mg cholesterol; 37 g of protein; 1 g of carbohydrates
Daniel Neman’s recipe