Keep on “Truc’n”
December 23rd, 2010 - By Lari Robling
The French word for trick, a “truc” in the kitchen is a chef’s tip or shortcut that makes the work easier or the completed dish tastier. Ina Garten, Michael Ruhlman and Marcus Samuelsson offer some of their best “trucs” for you to try.
A kitchen “truc,” no it’s not a vehicle that scoots around your kitchen. It’s French for trick and in the kitchen it’s a shortcut or tip, often learned over a career cooking, and makes the job easier. For instance, in his book, Ratio, Michael Ruhlman says measuring ingredients by weight rather than volume will help with accuracy. “I have become a scale evangelist. You want a scale that can measure in grams and in ounces and it should have a zeroing button. I like a scale that can at least weigh 3 pounds, and fractions of ounces. There are plenty of good scales out there and they start at 20 bucks and everyone should have one.”
Not a bad idea at all! I, for one, would much rather weigh my ingredients than myself. Seriously, though, what’s the real advantage to weighing rather than measuring by volume? Ruhlman says a cup of flour can vary in weight by two to four ounces. A big difference in a typical recipe. He says, “we could have a pound and half of flour, or a pound of flour, that’s a difference of 50% of your main ingredient.”
Over in Ina Garten’s kitchen the barefoot contessa of entertaining has a “How Easy is That” risotto. “Instead of standing over the stove stirring a pot for 25 minutes and wondering if you are putting in too much stock or too little you throw everything in a pot, put it in the oven, set a timer and its done. It is much less stress than making traditional risotto, and it’s just as good.”
Technique is one way to make life in the kitchen easier, but what about a secret ingredient waiting in the pantry to spice things up? Here’s what Chef Marcus Samuelsson says he can’t live without, “Indian mustard oil, sometimes I cook my lamb, my dishes in there, because it gives it a great taste, and sometimes I just heat it up and use it in a vinaigrette, for example on a piece of graavlax.”
And with the holidays coming, here’s another one from Ina Garten, “I couldn’t live without two dishwashers. I know some people have small kitchens but a dishwasher is really not an expensive appliance, and if you want to just use it for storage you can, but when you are having a party it’s wonderful to have two dishwashers.”
Hmmmmm… good idea if not a little impractical for most of us, unless you are a contessa, or live with a plumber!