Even top chefs use shortcuts

 chicken stock

When you think of what the world’s top chefs make at home, you likely picture them gently simmering bones and vegetables to make homemade stock, or folding and rolling puff pastry from scratch. As it turns out, even chefs use shortcuts. Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge surprised many people last week when he admitted to using stock cubes instead of making it from scratch

Perhaps it shouldn’t be that much of a shock – like most of us, chefs lead busy lives that do not always comport with spending hours in the kitchen to make gallons of stock, portion it, label it, and freeze it (not to mention having enough freezer space to hold it all). And as Felicity Cloake explains, sometimes these shortcuts are just as good as the homemade version. 

She provides canned chickpeas as an example. Although they may cost a bit more than dried, she says, “the snooty insistence that they taste better too is, in most cases, codswallop.” And if they are good enough for chefs and cookbook authors, she reckons, they are good enough for her too. 

Cloake’s favorite cheat is custard powder. “You can turn your nose up all you want,” she says, but she will “take a sturdy jug of Bird’s over a delicate drizzle of creme anglaise any day.” As for me, I find that jarred tikka masala sauce is nearly as good as my homemade version, and it’s a lot quicker and easier on a weeknight. What’s your favorite ‘cheat’ ingredient or food?

Photo of Chicken stock from Sweet Paul Magazine

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  • KarinaFrancis  on  October 31, 2017

    I cant agree about canned chick peas, they always taste "tinny" to me. I swear by jarred magic sauces from my local Asian supermarket.

  • annmartina  on  November 1, 2017

    Canned beans and Swanson's Natural Goodness chicken broth are probably my most used cheats. I discovered a new one last night. I wanted to make iceberg wedges with blue cheese dressing & crumbled bacon. I bought pre-cooked bacon and crisped it up in the microwave and it turned out perfectly thin and crispy in under a minute without the mess.

  • Bloominanglophile  on  November 1, 2017

    If you've never used Penzey's Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and Dip mix, I encourage you to try it! Makes a quick salad dressing or dip with crudites. Everytime I bring it to a party, people comment how much they like it. It is always in my pantry–just mix with mayo and buttermilk (or get creative with substitutions). Especially good on a BLT salad.

  • AnnaZed  on  November 15, 2017

    Can't agree about chickpeas at all. I too can taste the can; not to mention that they are also always mushy. I make my own in an Instant Pot. A 4 hour soak beforehand is all that is needed. I add dried onions (the world's most actually useful chef shortcut), black pepper and salt with olive oil. Simple. If I make too many I freeze them and save them to drop into soup or make hummus on a whim.

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