In this unrivaled practical guide, one of America's most widely respected cookbook authors distills his vast knowledge and experience into the 100 essential techniques that every cook needs to know. Seven hundred and fifty photographs unravel the mysteries of the method and provide practical application on the spot.
Each technique is further explained in terms of how it makes the food taste: What happens, for example, if you cook the fish in butter versus oil? Why does roasting make vegetables taste so good? How do you decide whether you want to make a chicken stew or sautT?
Here are answers to just about every cooking question, from the simple to the sublime: how to boil an artichoke or cook a soft-boiled egg, or how to clean soft-shell crabs or even butcher and roast a whole saddle of lamb. Knowing how to execute a technique makes you efficient; knowing why you've chosen that technique makes you a master.
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About the Author
James Peterson is the author of nine award-winning and short-listed cookbooks, including the James Beard Cookbook of the Year Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, as well as Essentials of Cooking, Glorious French Food, and What's a Cook to Do? He teaches, writes about, photographs, lives, breathes, and cooks fine food.
Read an Excerpt
HOW TO COOK RISOTTO, PILAF, FLUFFY RICE, AND PAELLA
Some rice dishes, such as risotto, emphasize the natural starchiness of rice and are designed to help the rice grains cling together in a natural creamy sauce while other dishes, such as pilaf, keep the grains of rice separate and relatively fluffy. Each of the dishes here uses a different kind of rice and a different technique to underline the desired effect.
To make plain boiled rice so that none of the grains sticks together, use firm, long-grain rice, such as basmati, and boil it in a large pot of boiling water as though cooking pasta.
Rice pilaf is made by first cooking long-grain rice in a small amount of fat to cook the starch before the liquid is added. Flavorful ingredients, usually onions and sometimes garlic, are cooked in the fat along with the rice before the liquid is added.
Risotto is a creamy rice dish made with short-grain Italian rice. The rice, usually vialone nano, carnaroli, or arborio, is gently cooked in butter or olive oil. Liquid, usually broth, is then added a small amount at a time until the rice is cooked and bathed in creamy liquid. Risotto must be stirred almost constantly to release the starch from the rice so the starch thickens the broth, giving the dish its characteristic creamy (sometimes even soupy) consistency. The flavoring in a risotto may be very simple (as for a risotto alla Milanese) or relatively complex.
Paella is made by cooking Spanish medium-grain rice in a flavorful liquid and then nestling in ingredients such as chicken, sausages (chorizos), seafood, and, in some versions, snails. Traditionally, paella is cooked over an open fire, but it can also be cooked on the stove or in the oven.
Risotto alla Milanese
This classic risotto is flavored with chicken broth, saffron, butter, and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (true Italian Parmesan cheese)
1. Rinse short-grained rice in a strainer.
2. Gently stir the rice in butter over low to medium heat until the grains are all lightly coated with butter.
3. Sprinkle over a pinch of saffron threads and stir in a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of chicken broth, or enough to just barely cover the rice. Continue stirring until all the broth has been absorbed.
4. Keep adding broth, just enough to barely cover the rice each time, until the risotto has a creamy consistency and the rice grains are cooked through (bite into one to test) about 25 minutes.
5. Stir in freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Boiled Fluffy Rice
To make rice with no hint of gumminess, pour long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine into a large pot of rapidly boiling water. When the rice is tenderbite into a grain to checkdrain in a colander and toss with butter.
1. Rinse long-grain rice in a strainer as shown on page 63. Gently cook chopped onions and/or garlic in a small amount of olive oil or butter. Stir in the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add water or broth. Cover with a round of parchment paper or aluminum foil or partially cover with the pan lid.
2. Cook in a 350F oven or on top of the stove over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
1. Prepare a sofregit by gently cooking chopped onions and garlic in olive oil in a paella pan or wide pot, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking and stirring.
2. When the tomatoes have cooked down into a dry, stiff mixturethe sofregitadd broth. Here, I use broth made from shrimp shells and heads.
3. Sprinkle over a pinch of saffron threads and stir in well-rinsed Spanish medium-grain rice.
4. Simmer gently over medium heat (or over an open fire!) until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Nestle the seafood in the rice, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and continue cooking on the stove (or over the fire), or finish in the oven, until the seafood is done.
Table of Contents
Shuck, Stem, Trim, and Seed Vegetables
Cut Up Vegetables and Herbs
Take the Meat out of a Coconut
Make a Chicken Broth
Make a Fish Broth
Make a Crustacean Broth
Make a Green Salad
Make a Vinaigrette
Make Infused Oils
Make a Mayonnaise
Make a Hollandaise Sauce
Make a Flavored Butter
Make a Beurre Blanc
Make a Tomato Sauce
Make Fresh Egg Pasta Dough
Roll and Cut Fresh Pasta Dough
Make Stuffed Pasta Shapes
Make Blini and Crepes
Cook Risotto, Pilaf, Fluffy Rice, and Paella
Determine Doneness of Foods
VEGETABLES & FRUITS
Make a Vegetable Gratin
Slow-Cook (Braise) Green Vegetables
Glaze Root Vegetables
Make Potato Chips and French Fries
Steam and Boil Vegetables
Make Mashed Potatoes and Other Vegetable and Fruit Purees
Make a Vegetable Flan
Make a Chunky Vegetable Soup
Make a Creamy Vegetable Soup
FISH & SHELLFISH
Poach a Big Fish
Poach a Small Fish
Poach Fish Steaks and Fillets, Small Whole Fish, and Shellfish
Cook Fish Fillets en Papillote
Bake Fish and Make a Sauce at the Same Time (Braise)
Roast a Whole Fish
Saute Seafood for a Crisp Crust
Cook Squid (and Other Tentacled Creatures)
Stir-fry in a Wok
Prepare Soft-shell Crabs
Use Salted Anchovies
Make Miso Soup
POULTRY & EGGS
Roast a Chicken
Poach Chicken in a Pot
Cut Up a Chicken
Make a Chicken Stew
Make a Chicken Saute
Make Fried Chicken
Saute Breaded Chicken Breasts
Make a Chicken Liver Mousse
Roast a Turkey and Make Giblet Gravy
Cut Up a Duck
Make an Omelet
Make a Souffle
Roast a Leg of Lamb
Roast a Rack of Lamb and Make a Jus
Roast a Rack of Pork
Roast a Prime Rib of Beef
Grill (or Broil) Chops and Steaks
Saute Steaks, Chops, Noisettes, and Medallions (and Make a Pan Sauce)
Saute a Small Whole Loin of Pork, Veal, or Venison
Make Pot-au-Feu and Other Boiled Dinners
Poach a Tender Cut of Meat
Make a Pot Roast
Make a Stew
Cook Veal, Beef, and Lamb Shanks
Make a Stew Without Browning
Make a Veal Stew
WORKING FROM SCRATCH
Prepare a Wbole Round Fish
Fillet a Salmon
Bone a Whole Round Fish
Prepare a Whole Flatfish
Scale, Clean, and Bone Whole Small Fish
Hot-Smoke Fish Fillets
Cold-Smoke Fish Fillets
Cure Seafood (Brining and Salting)
Trim and Cut Up a Breast of Veal for Stew
Trim and Partially Bone a Leg of Lamb
Butcher a Double Rack of Lamb
Trim and French a Rack of Lamb
Trim and Roast a Saddle of Lamb
Cut Up a Rabbit
Prepare and Braise a Large Rabbit
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I purchased this book because it's GREAT for explaining kitchen basics to novices -- I bring it with me when I do demos, and I assigned it to new staff in my catering kitchen. Shows (text and photos) how to slice, dice & julienne; infusing oils; using a potato masher; poaching fish, etc. Great choice for those who want a book that explains cooking basics.
Never before have I had a cookbook that is so thoroughly informative and helpful in every respect. Every time I open this book, I learn something new. From cutting up meats to slicing vegetables, it gives you the knowledge and techniques you need to prepare a simple salad or an epicurian masterpiece!
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK. IT IS CLEARLY WRITTEN IN A WAY I FIND EASY TO UNDERSTAND. THE PICTURES ARE WONDERFUL AND REALLY DEMONSTRATE THE TECHNIQUES CLEARLY. MANY BOOKS THAT TEACH TECHNIQUES ARE WRITTEN ABOUT PROFESSIONAL COOKING AND ARE SOMETIMES COMPLICATED, ,HOWEVER, PETERSON DOES A GOOD JOB OF TEACHING SKILLS TO HOME COOKS. I WOULD RECCOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE WHO IS TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO COOK.
For years, I tried to find a book without random recipes and with basic information that I could use in many cooking situations. After hearing an interview on the radio, I purchased the book, and have not been disappointed. Each time I reread 'Essentials of Cooking,' I learn something new. This book has opened a whole new world of information that is necessary for every cook. Love it!