Fat is a great way to add heft, flavor, and satisfaction to our food. Yes, fat! Don’t run away. For years, fat has been a threatening ingredient, one that people avoid. But, as any chef knows, meals get a lot of their flavor from fat. Imagine quesadillas without cheese or pad Thai without peanuts; these are not pretty thoughts. We’re on a mission to show you how to fearlessly use fat in your cooking. Today’s focus us how to cook with cream.
Cream can be a luxurious addition to dinner. If you pour your cream judiciously, you’ll wind up with a rich and flavorful dish that’s still fresh and bright. Though there are a few types of cream to use, today we’re focusing on heavy cream, with a spoonful of sour cream on top.
A Guide to Cooking with Cream
Creamy Salad Dressing
For most vinaigrettes, we drizzle olive oil into vinegar, or a mix of vinegar, mustard, and garlic. But oil doesn’t have to be the only fat used here. You can substitute cream for some of the oil in a vinaigrette to wind up with a more decadent drizzle for your greens. The dressing on our Crispy Chicken Chopped Salad uses buttermilk, but you could substitute cream to an even more delicious effect.
Creamy pasta sauces are some of the best sauces out there. (No offense to tomato sauces.) One of our all-time favorites is pasta primavera. After sautéing some vegetables, we simply pour in heavy cream. On the heat, the cream reduces into a sauce in just a few minutes. Once you add fresh pasta to the skillet, you’ll find that the sauce coats each strand of spaghetti beautifully. But you don’t need the pasta. Cream also turns chicken, fennel, and tomatoes into a lusciously creamy dish of Chicken with Tomato, Fennel & Creamy Tarragon Sauce.
Much as in creamy pasta sauces, creamy soups need just a dash or two of cream to both thicken and enrich the broth. In our Corn & Vegetable Chowder, cream turns a sauté of corn and radishes into a bonafide, and yummy, soup. This is a place where you can add as little or as much cream as you’d like–it’s up to you how rich you’d like your soup to be.
When using cream for garnish, the best–and most obvious option–is sour cream. That’s what we turn to for our fajitas, as well as for dishes like Mushroom Stroganoff that can use a bright and creamy topping. And hey–for dessert, there’s always whipped cream, too.