A roast chicken or Cornish game hen is a simple, delicious dinner. Every cook should have her favorite method for roasting a whole bird memorized. Next time you’re preparing a poultry feast, try our method for easy trussing, no butcher’s twine required.
What is trussing?
Trussing is a method of tying up a chicken into a neat little package. Typically it’s done using butcher’s twine. A chef uses twine to tie the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird. Trussing a chicken can improve the appearance of the roasted bird, and can help it cook more evenly.
Why do chefs truss chickens (and Cornish game hens)?
One of the challenges of roasting a chicken is ensuring that it cooks evenly. When a chicken is lying flat on a tray, the wings and legs tend to fall away from the bird. These small pieces of sections are exposed to more air, and will cook more quickly than the rest of the bird. Trying the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird can help the chicken cook more evenly and prevent the tips of the wings from burning. A trussed chicken also looks neat and pretty when presented whole.
Do I need to truss a chicken (or Cornish game hen)?
Trussing a chicken or Cornish game hen isn’t strictly mandatory, but with the no method we use, it’s so easy that there’s no reason not to.
What do I do if I don’t have butcher twine?
I’m glad you asked! Watch the video above to see our chef demonstrate a method for trussing a chicken with no twine.
How to truss a chicken with no twine
Using a knife, locate the extra skin flap around the cavity of the bird. Using scissors or a knife, make a small incision in the skin flap. Use your finger to widen the hole. Repeat on the other side of the cavity.
After both incisions have been made, take hold of one of the drumsticks. Pull it across the body of the chicken and tuck the end of the drumstick through the hole that you created. Repeat with the other drumstick so that the legs are crossed and tucked closely against the bird.
Finally, take hold of the wings of the bird. Push them up and back, as though the chicken were stretching its arms over its head. Push the tips of the wings behind the bird and tuck them into place. This will keep the meat from drying out.
A poached pear is a pear that has been cooked in a gently simmering liquid. Poached pears can be eaten on their own, or incorporated into dessert or dinner. This is a classic dish to serve in the fall and winter, when most pears are at their best.
Pick your poaching liquid
The poaching liquid is the liquid in which the pear is simmered. Depending on what liquid you choose, you can use this to add flavor to your pear. Pears can be poached in wine, or in water that has been spiked with flavorings like spices, honey, or liqueur.
Prepare the pear
Pear skin has tannins, which could impart a bitter flavor if left on during poaching. To prep your pear for poaching, peel the skin of the pear away with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cut the pear in half vertically and remove the seeds with a melon baller or small spoon.
During poaching, the pear should be mostly submerged in liquid. If too much liquid boils away, you’ll need to add more. The pear is done when it is soft and a knife can easily pierce all the way through. Depending on the size of the pear, this could take 16 to 18 minutes. After the fruit is tender all the way through, allow it to cool in the poaching liquid if time allows.
Watch a Blue Apron chef demonstrate our favorite method for poaching pears below.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, try this recipe for Poached Pear & Crispy Goat Cheese Salad with Escarole & Walnuts. For this recipe, we flavor our poaching liquid with verjus, honey, juniper berries, mustard seeds and tarragon stems. The result is a slightly sweet fruit with plenty of warm spice. It’s a perfect complement to tanging goat cheese and crisp lettuce.
A matchstick cut is a lot what it sounds like–it refers slicing your produce into thin rectangular sticks. It’s often referred to as a julienne cut. Matchsticked apples can be a great addition to a salad, or a fun crunchy topping for a savory dish. The cut may look delicate, but if you know how to do it, it’s not challenging at all. Watch the video below to learn how to cut an apple into matchsticks.
To cut an apple into matchsticks, start by removing the core. With the apple standing upright, make four straight slices to separate each side of the apple from the core. You should end up with four slices of apple, and one rectangular portion containing the core. Discard the core and work with one apple portion at a time.
To form matchsticks, lay the apple portion cut side down on a board. Make vertical cuts from top to bottom to form thin slices all the way across the apple.
Keeping these slices lined up and stand them on their side to form a stack. One side of the stack should be straight, and the other will be the natural round shape of the apple. Start at the flat edge of this stack and make thin cuts all the way across to form thin stick-shaped slices.
Now that you know how to cut apples into matchsticks, try some of our favorite apple recipes.
Onions belong in pretty much every dinner. We’ll small dice an onion wether we’re making sandwiches, lettuce wraps, or grain bowls. Dicing an onion isn’t difficult, but knowing the proper technique will make it even easier. Follow these steps to master this essential kitchen skill, and watch the video above to see how our chefs do it.
Steps to small dice an onion
Trim the onion ends
With your chef’s knife, slice the top and bottom end off of the onion. Don’t throw these pieces out! You can save onion scraps for homemade stock.
Peel the outer layer
Use your hands to peel away the papery, outermost leaves of the onion. These can go in the trash or compost bin. They tend to hang on to a bit of dirt, and don’t have that much flavor for stock.
Halve through the ends
Stand the onion on one of the newly created flat ends. Use your chef’s knife to slice down the center. Use a sharp knife to avoid bruising the onion.
Make parallel cuts
Place the onion half cut side down on your work surface. Working end to end, cut 2-3 slices almost all of the way through the onion. Stop about 3/4 of the way through, this will help keep the onion together during the following steps. You should be working parallel to your cutting board.
Make long slices
Next, use your knife to make lengthwise cuts, from root end to stem end, all the way through the onion. The distance between your cuts will determine the width of your onion dice.
Finally, cut crosswise through the onion. Keep the onion together are you slice by holding it with the tips of your fingers curled back. That way, you can use your knuckles as a guide for the knife, and keep your finger tips out of the way.
Eggplant is a powerful fruit. When properly roasted, eggplants can be as rich and savory as any meat. Roasting eggplant isn’t difficult, but there are a few tricks that we love to employ to make sure they come out of the oven evenly cooked and golden brown. Follow our advice and harness the power of the eggplant to create delicious dinners in your home.
How to prepare an eggplant before roasting
The first step is choosing a dish for your finished eggplant. If you’re working with a recipe, it will offer guidelines on how you should cut your eggplant. If you’re not working with a recipe, try choosing from one of the methods below:
Small cubes of eggplant are well-suited to salads because they are easy to stab with a fork, and they are perfectly bite-sized. This method of preparation maximizes surface area and browning, for a crispy final product.
To cut an eggplant into cubes, first rinse the eggplant. Then use a chef’s knife to cut off the very top of the eggplant, removing the stem. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise to form two long pieces. Working one half at a time, place the eggplant cut-side-down on a board and slice lengthwise into strips. Keeping the strips together, rotate the eggplant and cut across the strips at a 90° angle. Repeat this process with the other half.
Roasted eggplant rounds are easy to slice and eat. This shape has a good balance between crispy surface area and creamy roasted interior. Eggplant rounds are a great way to top off a grain bowl.
To slice an eggplant into rounds, start by rinsing the eggplant and removing the stem with a chef’s knife. Then, simply lay the eggplant on its side and slice across the eggplant, doing your best to keep each round even.
Eggplant halves have a crispy exterior and a creamy exterior. With a golden-brown top, these large pieces make for a beautiful presentation.
To cut an eggplant into halves simply rinse, remove the stem, and slice lengthwise with a chef’s knife. To help these large pieces cook evenly, we recommend scoring the surface before roasting, as demonstrated below.
When to salt an eggplant before cooking
Salting and rinsing eggplants prior to cooking isn’t always necessary, even though you might see it in recipes. The eggplants of yesteryear had a strong bitter flavor. Cooks would mellow out this astringency by salting and rinsing eggplant slices prior to cooking. Today’s eggplants have been selectively bred to remove this bitterness, so salting to remove unwanted flavors before roasting is unnecessary.
Sometimes salting can serve another purpose: drawing out excess moisture. Eggplants are full of water, and it can make it hard to get them nice and brown when frying. All of that water turns to steam in the pan, and prevents the eggplants from getting crispy. To remove water, you need a good amount of salt. Sprinkle the sliced eggplant generously with salt, and wait for 10-15 minutes. You should see little beads of water forming on the surface of the eggplant. Brush off the excess salt, and use paper towels to pat the eggplant dry. Now you should be able to achieve a beautiful sear.
When to score an eggplant before cooking
If you’re working with large pieces, scoring an eggplant will help the flesh cook evenly and allow any seasonings to penetrate the flesh of the eggplant. Scoring before roasting eggplant also creates more surface area. That means you’ll get even more caramelized golden brown goodness in your finished dish.
All you need to score an eggplant is a small knife and a cutting surface. This technique will work with any type of eggplant. We’re demonstrating with a globe eggplant, which is the variety most commonly available in American grocery stores.
Start by removing the stem of the eggplant. Do this by cutting away the very top of the eggplant with your knife. Discard or compost this portion. Then, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. You should end up with two long eggplant halves.
Working one half at a time, use the very tip of your knife to make long, shallow diagonal incisions across the entire surface of the eggplant. Then rotate the eggplant and repeat the process, so that the shallow cuts form a crosshatch pattern. Repeat this process with the other half of the eggplant. To see just how simple this process is, watch Chef Tim demonstrate in the video below.
How to roast eggplant in the oven
You’re ready to roast! Be sure to season the eggplant thoroughly with salt, pepper, and olive oil and before placing it in the oven. Eggplants are very absorbent, so we recommend brushing the olive oil on with a silicon brush (if you have one). Cooking time will vary based on the size of your eggplant pieces, but for ½-inch slices, it should take about 20-22 minutes in a 450°F oven.
Recipes with roasted eggplant
Now that you’re done roasting your eggplant, it’s time for the fun part. Choose a recipe that shows off your creation. Here are a few that we love:
Unless you’re a total carb-o-phile, or you share a household with eternally hungry teenage boys, you may not get through a loaf of preservative-free bakery bread before it gets stale. That means, sadly, that extra bread winds up in the trash. Not anymore! This essential kitchen tip can help you freshen stale bread and reduce food waste.
To start: One way to extend the shelf life of fresh bread is to store it in the fridge or the freezer. The cold will preserve a loaf’s lifespan, but it will also rob the bread of its crisp exterior and chewy crumb. What to do about the problem created by our preservation solution?
Don’t worry, we’ve got a solution to that too. The easiest way to freshen a stale loaf of bread is simply to stick it in the oven. Take your loaf right our of the freezer or refrigerator and pop it into a 475°F oven. After to three minutes, the loaf will be hot and crispy again.
This method is best suited for bakery bread. Unlike its more processed counterpart, pre-sliced sandwich bread, bakery bread doesn’t contain any preservatives. That means it will become stale or moldy in just a few days if left out on the counter. Sandwich bread, on the other hand, is often happy on the counter top for up to a week.
Once it’s out of the oven, you can use the bread in recipes, like this Tuscan Ribollita, or just enjoy it with a smear of good butter.
We’re embarking on a quest to help you cut down prep time in the kitchen by finessing your knife skills and making short work ofonions, garlic, and carrots. Today’s lesson: how to dice potatoes. Let’s start by focusing on a large dice. This method is great for creating big potato chunks perfect for roasting.
Our Method for Dicing Potatoes
Speedy chopping can help you get dinner on the table quickly, and this method will keep you fingers safe while you’re working.
The first step is to cut the the potato in half from end to end. Then, lay the new potato plank flat side down on the cutting board. Cut into thirds lengthwise, you’ll end up with three long potato sticks.
Keeping the slices together, rotate the potato half 90° and slice all the way across with four long cuts. This should leave you with 12 large potato chunks. Repeat this process with the other half of the potato.
To see some professional potato dicing in action, watch the video below.
Everyone loves a good salad, but sometimes lettuce can be a pain. Delicate leaves can wilt or decay, and hearty lettuces like romaine can develop rusty brown spots. Don’t despair! There’s good news: a little brown lettuce doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole head is bad. Professional chefs call these spots “rust,” and they simply remove them before making a salad. Don’t throw that perfectly good lettuce away! Just follow these steps to remove lettuce rust and get cooking.
Rust usually occurs near the roots of a head of lettuce. These reddish-brown blemishes can be the result of too much moisture during storage. Although it’s not harmful, it can certainly be unappetizing. It’s best to remove these spots before making a salad. Luckily, it’s easy to just cut away any discoloration.
To remove the lettuce rust simply take a chefs knife, hold firmly onto the head of lettuce, and cut away from your hand.
Delicata squash is known for its characteristically delicate rind. Its cream-colored skin is so thin that it can be eaten. When roasted, the skin gives the squash a satisfying bite. Before roasting, you have to know how to slice squash.
Delicata squash can be sliced several ways. One unique way of serving this winter squash is to cut it into rings. To do this, first remove the ends of the squash with a chefs knife. Then, take the knife and slice all the way through the squash, making even 1/2-inch rounds. Each round will have a ring of squash on the outside, and a pocket of seeds in the center. Working one round at a time, insert a knife into the center of the squash ring. Turning the ring, use the knife to cut away the seeds. After you’ve cut all the way around, the seeds should pop right out.
One you’ve sliced the squash, you’re ready to roast. Coat the sliced squash lightly with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Lay the rings flat on a sheet, and bake in a 450°F oven for 15-20 minutes. After the rings have cooled, they’re ready to use. Place them on top of a salad or grain bowl, or serve them alongside your favorite protein.
Here are a few recipes we love that use sliced delicata squash: