Knowing how to expertly sear a piece of fish is a great skill to add to your cooking repertoire. While fish is expensive, it’s a terrific source of nutrients. So, find the best source you can for the freshest fish and keep an eye on sales. Halibut is a great choice to feed your family, and can often be found at a good price.
Below is a template for cooking halibut, but feel free to substitute other fish. Try one of my savory marinades to amp up the flavor. Simply brush a tablespoon of marinade on each fillet before searing. Serve additional marinade on the side for an instant and delicious sauce.
To sear halibut:
You need a 6 oz piece of halibut (each about 1 1/2 – 2 inches thick) for each person. Don’t cook more than 4 fillets at a time (crowding the pan would steam the fish instead of searing)
Heat 2 tbsp Olive oil in a large skillet.
Season the halibut on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the fish for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until the fish is opaque in the center and browned on both sides.
One of the best cooking skills you can ever learn is how to tell when food is cooked and ready to eat. Chicken is the backbone of family meals – so knowing when chicken is cooked is just one of those “ah-ha” moments that saves you so much time and worry. You can confidently know when it’s ready to eat.
A digital thermometer is among the the best investments you will ever make. All the guesswork is taken away, you know with a quick check when your food is ready, and it saves you the time of slicing into your protein to check it – which also helps your food stay juicy because you’re not cutting into it.
The perfect internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees. My secret to juicy chicken is that I pull the chicken when the temperature is 160 degrees. While the chicken rests, the temperature continues to rise, and in 5 minutes, it will be ready to eat at 165 degrees. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can always do a little cut into the middle to check that it’s just about opaque in the center. Just be careful not to slice into the chicken too often, you don’t want to lose all those juices.
I am so excited to share this recipe with you - consider it a template to use up all the odds and ends in your veggie drawer. Between using up veggies to make stock and getting in the habit of making stock from leftover chicken carcasses - you will never have to buy stock again! Happy cooking!
8 Carrots, unpeeled
2-3 Onions, peeled (only use 2 onions if you are adding garlic)
1 tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup Olive oil
1 Garlic, head (optional)
3 Bay leaves
1 tsp Black peppercorns
Preheat oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Cut carrots, celery and onions into large chunks. If using garlic, slice off the top. Place everything on the sheet pan.
Drizzle Kosher salt and olive oil and toss vegetables.
Check vegetables after 1 hour. You can remove them now, or continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes to deepen the flavor.
Place the vegetables in a slow cooker or large pot and fill to the top with water. Add bay leaves and peppercorns.
In a slow cooker, cook on LOW for 12 hours, in a large stockpot simmer for 3 hours.
Having a couple of poached chicken breasts on hand means an open door to so many dinner options…salads, soups, quesadillas, sandwiches, lettuce wraps…the possibilities are endless. Below is a basic technique for poaching tender and perfectly cooked chicken breasts.
This recipe doubles easily. Beyond 4 chicken breasts, you are not guaranteed that the breasts will cook through, so it would be better at that point to make 2 batches. Why the Kosher salt and garlic powder? They do not impart a distinct flavor, but add a perfect amount of seasoning that’s ready for all types of flavor profiles.
2 Chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, trimmed if needed
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Garlic powder
Place chicken breasts in a large saucepan with a top. Cover the chicken breasts with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 minutes, then cover the saucepan and remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove chicken from poaching liquid immediately. Allow chicken to cool to the touch and then shred. Use the chicken immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
It’s tricky to know when your food is done, whether you are grilling or roasting, seafood or big cuts of meat, how do you know? My answer…you have to invest in a digital thermometer. There is a big range of price points, so this is not a pricey investment. Instead, think of your digital thermometer as an insurance policy. You know that when you use it you are not going to ruin your dinner – either by under or overcooking. But, I want to challenge you one step further. Once you start using your thermometer, feel your food every time you take a temperature. Gradually you will start to recognize the doneness of your protein by touch, and that is an amazing skill to develop. Happy cooking!
This is not going to be the most exciting post I ever write, but I think it’s one of the most important. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time in classes learning about food safety and making sure I was preparing food correctly for my clients. While there’s a lot of useless technical information mixed into those classes, there are some super important lessons that can really help the home cook. While grilling is fun and relaxed it can also dangerous. You are touching raw food several times and most people forget to change out their cooking utensils. This leads to cross-contamination, and it can make you sick, especially with chicken. Here is a simple rule to remember next time you grill. Whatever utensil you use to put your protein on the grill (I always use tongs), use it once again to flip the protein and then retire that utensil to the sink. Grab a new utensil and use that to finish cooking. That way you had one thing you used with raw food and then another you used for cooked food. This simple lesson can prevent you from getting you or your family sick.
Kitchen scissors are one of my kitchen tool MVPs. I have 4 pairs that are solely reserved for the kitchen and make their home in a drawer with my Microplane graters (another MVP) but that will have to be another post…I use scissors instead of a knife for mincing both scallions and chives, it’s super fast and it also doesn’t crush them the way a knife can. My favorite thing to do with scissors is trim chicken and pork. I find it much easier than using a knife and I can skip the cutting board that way. I take a chicken breast out of the packet one by one, trim it, then add it to the marinade in a Ziploc bag. Same goes for pork – could not be easier. Then scissors go right in the silverware basket in the dishwasher to be sanitized. Pick up a extra pair next time you are at the grocery store…scissors will quickly become indispensable in your kitchen too!
Each week when all the kids leave, I always feel guilty about the random leftovers veggies in the fridge. I’ve been making stock for years (only every so often when the mood strikes and I have been organized enough to save the chicken carcass), but I usually just buy low-sodium stock at the grocery store and get on with it. The other Sunday evening, I was once again staring at my fridge when I had one of those inspiration moments, I WILL MAKE STOCK. And…I decided to up my game by roasting the carcasses and vegetables first.
I use chicken stock for much more than just soups. I sub in chicken stock in all types of recipes: I make rice with half chicken stock half water (tastes so much better), sub in a small amount of chicken stock in Asian recipes to reduce the sodium, use it to create quick sauces for pasta and finally nothing is more helpful when deglazing a pan than a bit of chicken stock. Happy cooking!
Chicken carcass, make sure all skin is removed, but it’s okay if there are bits of chicken
1 onion sliced in quarters with skin left on
Handful of carrots
Handful of celery
A few springs of fresh herbs
½ cup of olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400.
Arrange chicken carcass and all of the vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Toss with olive oil and Kosher salt.
Roast for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and with tongs carefully place the chicken carcass and vegetables in a stockpot or crockpot.
Add as much water as you can to your stockpot or crockpot (in my big crockpot I manage to add 12 cups of water.
Simmer for a minimum of 2 hours and up to overnight. For me this is an after a chicken dinner activity. So I roast while cleaning up the kitchen, set my crockpot before bed and in the morning - my house smells amazing AND I have a ton of delicious stock!
I absolutely love the brightness and flavor lemons and limes add to food. Years ago, I had an epiphany – if the recipe was calling for lemon or lime juice why not add the zest? No matter what I am making – marinades, salads, sauces – I always zest my lemon or lime. It takes just a few seconds of your time to really deepen the flavor and texture of any dish. All you need is a microplane grater and you are ready to go!
I can not empathize enough how crucial it is to have a building block skill like this in your back pocket! Knowing how to properly poach chicken opens the door to a vast array of recipes – from sandwiches and salads to soups and casseroles – and tons of dishes in between! I was inspired by a Martha Stewart Cooking School recipe, I went ahead and simplified it down to the basics. Use this recipe as a guideline, these two ingredients would flavor chicken that could work in any recipe Italian – Thai and every cuisine in between.
If I know what type of dish my chicken is going into - as opposed to just making a batch for a variety of dishes, then I play around with ingredients. If I am doing Italian I like to add onions, bay leaves, fresh thyme and lemon, whereas for a Thai meal I might add some lemongrass, garlic and ginger. Play around with this terrific foundation technique! Happy cooking!
4 (6-8 oz each) Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp Garlic powder
Place all three ingredients in a stockpot or deep pan.
Add water until chicken is completely covered and submerged by approximately 1 inch.
Set to burner to high heat. Watch carefully, once the chicken boils, turn down from an aggressive boil to a rolling boil - this usually entails turning the burner down to medium-high heat.
Allow chicken to boil for 3 minutes.
Turn off heat and cover the pot or pan. Let stand for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken to a plate, and if shredding allow to stand for 5-10 minutes until warm but no longer hot. Shred with 2 forks or your hands.
At this point, you can add to a recipe immediately or let the chicken cool then store in a ziploc bag or tupperware for 3-4 days, using as needed.
A digital thermometer is so helpful here and eliminates any guesswork. Once the chicken reaches an internal temp of 160 you can remove it from the pot. While resting on a plate the internal temp will continue to rise and your chicken will end up at the perfect temp of 165.