Cooking Class Notes
Class with Suzanne, Kendall, and Gabby, on September 19, 2018
Thank you so much to our members who joined us for our first-ever cooking class! This blog post includes notes on just about everything we covered in class. If you missed the class, you can still follow along with our detailed notes. Please feel free to be in touch with any follow-up questions.
Tips and Q&A
It’s ok to be messy and not have the perfect equipment! It’s good to try new things and it’s OK to make mistakes!
Cooking at home is almost always healthier.
Rarely is there a right or wrong way – read up online, try it out, and don’t hesitate to ask!
Use your sense of smell and hearing too – smell for when something smells good & done, listen for sizzling on the stove or in the oven.
These exact ingredients might not come in one week’s basket, but throughout the season you can use these techniques and mix and match ingredients!
Overview and Outline
I. Start caramelizing onions
II. Start reducing apple cider
III. Peel & start roasting squash
IV. Breaking down and roasting a whole chicken
(and how to make chicken stock later)
V. Browned Butter & Reduced Cider Dressing
Where to use them:
Pizza, salads, sandwiches, in grain bowls with roasted vegetables, to top casseroles or mashed potatoes, in burritos or omelettes, on crackers with cheese… anywhere you would use regular onions!
Overall cook time: about 1 hour 15 min
Store in the fridge for up to 6 days or store in the freezer to add to heated meals later
We used yellow onions, but you can use red onions too!
Oil: 50/50 blend of olive oil and grapeseed oil or 50/50 blend of oil and butter
How to caramelize onions:
1. Peel and cut onions into slivers. When you add them to a pan or pot, remember that they will reduce and cook down!
2. Add oil, salt, and water to the pot
3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring every 10-15 minutes. You want them to brown, but slowly. If you hear a lot of sizzling or see them browning too quickly, add water and/or turn down the heat.
How do you avoid crying while chopping onions?
We don’t really know! Try chilling them or grab your goggles!
We used Kabocha Squash (large orange squash with big seeds), Butternut Squash (pale yellow with a longer neck and seeds just in the bottom), and Blue Hubbard Squash (pale blue-green on the outside and orange on the inside with large seeds).
Different varieties of squash will have slightly different shapes, textures, and flavors, which can lend to different uses, but in general, you can use them interchangeably. We encourage you to try as many different kinds as you can!
We used 50/50 blend of grapeseed/olive oil
Having a large, sharp chef’s knife and a quality vegetable peeler will make this job noticeably easier! Make sure hands are above the knife if cutting something large and tough.
Where to use it:
ANYWHERE. In tacos, blended into soup, served over rice or grains, in a salad, mashed as a side dish, on pizza, blended with beans to make a dip, in an omelette, baked into muffins or breakfast bread, added to mac & cheese, even in a smoothie! Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can always add some roasted squash!
How to prepare and roast squash:
1. Peel squash and cut into similarly-sized pieces for generally even roasting. Cutting the squash will help it cook more quickly & evenly than roasting it whole
2. Lay out quash pieces on a large baking sheet. Drizzle oil over the squash and sprinkle salt evenly across the pieces, then mix up so that the pieces are evenly coated. Evenly coating the squash in oil will help it cook evenly – and the fat will help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals in the squash!
3. Roast at about 400-425 for about 20-30 minutes (lower heat = longer time) Generally, cooking at a higher temperature will cook the outside quicker, giving more of a crust/crunch – but the risk is that you might burn the outside. Cooking at a lower temperature for longer will lend to more evenly tender pieces of squash. There is not a right or wrong way to do it – over time, you’ll learn your preference! (It also depends how much time you have to put dinner on the table!)
4. When the squash is done, remove the pan and let it cool.
Q & A Notes:
For roasting squash- do you roast in cubes, or do you roast bigger pieces then cube?
For pureeing, bigger pieces is better because less surface is getting dried out. For roasting, bite-sizes are fine, especially with dressing added later
Breaking Down a Whole Chicken
Buying whole chicken will get you a much better value of $/pound. Plus, you can make stock with the bones after!
Defrost for about 2 days in the fridge, or, put your plastic-wrapped chicken in hot water in your sink or a large bowl for 2-3 hours (or the day if you’re gone for work).
Once defrosted, you can break down your chicken or you can roast your chicken whole. Be sure to check for a neck, liver, and heart. If you plan to make chicken stock with the leftover bones, keep the neck to add to the stock. The liver and heart can be sautéed and blended for pate.
A smaller boning knife can be helpful, but your best sharp knife will work well, too.
We separated the larger pieces for separate meals (which you can re-freeze for later). For the salad, we used the shredded chicken pulled from the body of the chicken.
Start at natural separation between wings and body, make a cut in the skin. Then you can bend back the wing to pop the join, and then use your knife to remove the wing. Repeat on the other side.
You will have 2 wings.
Again, look for the natural separation between the body and the leg. Separate the skin first, to find the line, then cut down along the line/space (you don’t need a lot of pressure). Once you cut through the joint, you will also need to cut through the thigh meat to remove the leg from the body.
Remember that it’s OK to feel around and take your time, especially if you haven’t butchered many chickens! Repeat on the other side. For legs/thighs, it’s best to leave the meat on the bone (rather than try to remove the bone from the middle)
You have the option to separate the thigh (upper leg) from the drumstick (lower leg) if you want to. The parts would cook a little bit more quickly this way, and you will have smaller portions of meat for use in different recipes. For frying, we’d recommend smaller pieces, but for roasting or pan cooking, you can keep the leg whole.
You will have 2 legs, or, 2 thighs + 2 drumsticks (as pictured below)
Holding the body upside-down, with the cavity facing upward, slice off the back bone from the breast bone. You will need to bend the back, then cut it off. You can save the back for stock. You can cook the back before you add it to stock, but it’s not necessary to cook it.
Lay the chicken down on the cutting board. With the breast meat facing upward, press down to flatten slightly. Separate the skin, and then cut meat off the bone beneath it, staying as close to the bone as you can. You will cut off the chicken breast and the chicken tender under that. Repeat on the other side.
You will have 2 boneless chicken breasts.
Organize chicken on pan based on how fast parts cook- breasts are the fastest, then wings, then legs/thighs. Cooking bone-in will mean longer cooking time, but the benefit is added flavor and moisture.
Add oil, salt, and cook at 375F,
Use a meat thermometer to check temperatures, and take parts out when they reach 165F (25 - 45 minutes)
Making Chicken Stock
You can extract fat, collagen, and tons of flavor from the leftover bones and meat of poultry.
Store vegetable scraps, chicken bones and parts like necks, hearts, and backs, in a container in your freezer to make a big batch of stock when you have time.
It’s highly recommended that you only make broth/stock from poultry that you can trust. The nutrients in a small-scale, pasture-raised, non-gmo-fed or organically-fed chicken – like the chickens from Maple Wind Farm - are going to be much higher quality and safer. Furthermore, conventionally-raised chickens can have pesticide residue in their meat & bones from the poor quality of their die
Where to use homemade stock:
Homemade stock is great for the base of a soup, such as chicken noodle soup because of the great flavor and to highlight your hard work, but we also love to use stock for cooking grains and for adding to blended soups!
Simply add vegetable cuttings (carrots, onions, herbs) and chicken bones to a large pot and cover with cold water (don’t need to add salt). Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to help dissolve the minerals in the bones.
Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat to simmer for 6-12 hours. This is a good weekend or evening project. You can expect better results with stovetop, but a slow cooker for the low-heat portion (after boiling) will work as well.
Skim off cloudy bubbles at the top occasionally.
Cool it to a temperature that’s safe to handle, then you can strain out the scraps with a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
Then, transfer to plastic bags or Tupperware to store in the fridge (for use within 6 days) or freezer. (It’s hard not to make a mess but it’s worth it!) (Be sure to leave room for liquid to expand if you’re storing in the freezer.
Browned Butter & Reduced Cider Dressing
Reduced Apple Cider Syrup
Where to use reduced cider:
Add to ice cream or pancakes, beverages or cocktails, in salad dressing, or add to meat, marinades, or to braised meat. Starting with at least ½ gallon of cider, add to a pot and simmer over medium heat.
You’re evaporating water from the cider, and condensing the flavor and sweetness. The longer it cooks, the thicker your apple cider syrup/reduction will be. Aim for the consistency of maple syrup.
You can add sage or rosemary to your syrup too!
Pour apple cider into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer and reduce to desired thickness.
We used Ploughgate Creamery Cultured Butter
1. Put butter in pan and simmer it, medium-medium low
2. Butter will simmer and break down, then clear fat will separate (ghee) and milk solids (whey, casein, lactose). Leave everything in the pan and stir often.
3. Milk solids get stuck to bottom of pan and brown and flavor changes
4. If you keep heat lower, it’ll still brown it’ll just take longer
The Essential Make-at-Home Dressing Ratio:
1 cup fat (we used ¾ c browned butter and ¼ c olive oil
1/3 c acid (vinegar and/or citrus
1/3 c cider syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 finely chopped shallot
pinch of salt
Add all ingredients to a food process or blender and blend to combine. Store in a glass jar or tupperware.