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What's something unique that you do when you cook?

I was thinking about this tonight when we made BLTs for dinner. We bake the bacon on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F. for about 16-20 minutes (thanks to Cook's Illustrated for that tip). After dinner I scraped out the bacon fat, soaked the pan, and saved the deglazing liquid in a container in the freezer (labeled "bacon stock"), which I will use in future sauces, soups, etc. Many of my friends think I'm nuts not only for doing this, but also for making tape labels to date and identify every container that I put in the fridge or freezer.

What do you do that no one else you know does?

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  1. Just to clarify, the unique thing is that you save the bacon fat (which seems quite common) or that you create a bacon stock from the liquid you soaked the pan in (which I've never heard of). If it's the latter, I'm willing to give you the award right now!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Darren72

      The latter is correct: saving the bacon "stock." I'm not after an award, just wondering how you folks go the extra mile in search of culinary greatness in your own kitchen.

      1. re: vanillagrrl

        I posted about this last year--deglazing (w/a bit of water) the remaining bits in the pan. However, I only do this when cooking my Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon. The "bacon a jus" (as I call it) is my secret ingredient in soups--especially good in butternut squash soup, but many soups are improved with this salty/smokey addition.

    2. I do my bacon like this now all the time, thanks to Cooks. I love that mag!

      1. The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that I make my own dog food, based loosely on a formula from MFK Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf."

        1. this might not be unique at all.... but if my friends had any idea i did this i think they would have paid more attention to their salad course this friday.

          when i do balsamic pepper strawberries i tend to soak them in mass amounts of balsamic and let them sit in the fridge for weeks. once i'm done the strawberries or they've become saturated messes... i reserve the leftover balsamic in a container. every so often i'll pull it out, reduce it over the stove, let it cool and have a nice fruity balsamic syrup to pour over anything.

          1. When I bread turkey or chicken cutlets, I take the leftover flour/breadcrumb mixture and any leftover egg and mix it together and make a "fry bread" we call cookie. My grandmother and mother, who lived through the Holocaust, always did this - they didn't waste anything. I am sure it was a meat extender, but my kids love it and are very disappointed if the cookie isn't big enough.

            1. I salt the water under the steamer basket. It may be my imagination, but I think it imparts just a bit of salt to the steamed veggies.

              I also use an old vermouth bottle filled with cold water as a rolling pin.

              1. What interesting ideas.

                I just thought of another stock thing I do. I buy a roasted chicken once in a while at costco, and when we've eaten all the chicken off the carcass, I roast the carcass for 1 hour at 400 F and then simmer it with water for an hour or two with a bay leaf for a [not-so-quick] stock that I also freeze.

                And we toast oats before making the oatmeal (yet another cook's illustrated hint). But I know some of you do that around here.

                1. Although most recipes do not call for it, anytime I use garlic, onion, herbs, etc. specifically for flavoring, I pound it in a mortar rather than dicing or mincing. Smashing seems to release much more flavor than cutting as the molecules containing the flavor are broken. When cutting, only those molecules that are actually cut are opened and then in a way that less flavor tends to be released.
                  For instance, any recipe that calls for minced garlic cloves, I often will pound them instead. Although in the case of garlic, a press will do something similar I've never really liked using them.

                  1. I started using melted butter for pie crust when I was 10. I would bake for the neighbors- spontainiously. The proportions come from a bakeoff recipe- 2/3 c butter to 2 c flour. The easy part is you get to press the warm dough into the pie plate and then chill it. I still do this in a pinch when a very "short" crust makes for a stick to your ribs pie( apple is great this way). It also works if you want a crumble topping since you can add brown sugar and oats or nuts to teh extra crust and sprinkle.

                    1. i save chicken necks and gizzards, as well as skin all year, and then make my grandmother's fricasse from the necks and gizzards (accompanied with small meatballs) and gribenes and schmaltz from the skins (fried chicken skins with onion, which I affectionately refer to as Jewish bacon, and rendered chicken fat). This probably isnt' all that strange to anyone with eastern european Jewish roots, but to the unindoctrinated, it seems a bit wierd...