Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Technique of the Week: Stirring

Those of us that have been cooking for many years, “stir” our ingredients with little or no consideration for the actual act of stirring. In reality, there is more to it than just sticking a spoon in the bowl and wiggling it around a bit.

Stirring is the technique of mixing together ingredients of before or during cooking.  Stirring is a simple concept, but it does require that you know when and where to stir.

Before sitting down to write this post, I stumbled upon a very instructive little video on the à la carte cooking website. The video was made by Peter Hertzmann who is the author of Knife Skills Illustrated and an instructor at Sur La Table is titled “Stirring Conclusions.” According to Hertzmann, there are three main reasons to stir: to create a homogenous mixture; to evenly disperse temperature; and, to alter the viscosity of a liquid (thicker or thinner). These reasons may seem to be common sense, but many cooks stir only because the recipe tells them to without considering the reason.
   
When stirring, for example, you should always make sure that the utensil you’re stirring with touches the bottom and all corners of the pan. For thin liquids without any solids mixed in, stirring in the middle of the pot or pan may be adequate. You should select your stirring utensil on purpose rather than just grabbing the first thing at your fingertips. And, when a recipe says, “stir occasionally” or “stir frequently,” you should have a clear understanding of what the intended result is to ensure you are stirring properly.

Hertzmann’s video is broken down into chapters and answers all basic questions about stirring and has tips and tricks for even the most advanced ”stirrers.” So without further ado, CLICK HERE to view his video for your edification.




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