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Sep 29, 2008 06:46 AM

standard cooking tasks that you just won't do......

i can't stand handling raw chicken. i can deal with rock cornish game hens, but regular chicken -- especially fatty ones -- just are smelly to me. i hate, hate, hate to cut up a chicken into pieces for frying, braising, whatever. i always wear latex hospital-type gloves to handle raw poultry.

i know as a chow cook, i should easily overcome this disgust. but i can't -- and likely that is true because i don't want to!!

do you have a task that every "cook" easily handles (or so you think....), but you won't do it? or you will do it, but with your nose turned up and a grimace on your otherwise friendly face?

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  1. Hate chopping garlic. Don't like how sticky it gets on my hands and I'm too lazy to dig out a pair of gloves. So I end up using the press or getting my hubby to do it. I think I got lazy from working in a kitchen where we never had to hand chop garlic. We got big containers of peeled cloves. The garde manger kitchen would chop a container in the buffalo chopper, so there was always chopped garlic around.

    Also, I hate cooked ground meat. For some reason, I just hate standing there forever breaking it up. Too impatient, I guess.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Sooeygun

      If you have a mini food processor, you could chop the garlic in it. So far, I've not run into anything that I refuse to do. There are some things I've decided not to after trying them - such as buying cleaned squid instead of cleaning them myself. Oh - I do know one - peel pearl onions. I either buy the frozen ones or substitute regular onions.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Funny how one person's aversion can be another's pleasure. It annoys me that I can no longer buy uncleaned squid (unless Citarella has just opened a carton and not gotten around yet to cleaning them all). I don't like paying extra to have other people do a job I can do better. So often I find I have to reclean the squid anyway because they haven't gotten all the bits and pieces out. And it's not unusual to find bodies with the tips cut off or with other holes in them so you have to patch them before stuffing.

        I'm in the rather-do-it-myself camp for so many things. I rarely buy chicken parts; I don't mind in the least cutting it up myself and one way or another I'm going to use the whole thing anyway. No problem jamming a knife into the head of a live lobster, cutting off the eyes of a softshell crab, and I've even gotten over the bit of queasiness I used to feel when buying a whole fowl in Chinatown and I'd cut off the head because I didn't want to see it sticking up out of the stock. Should I be changing my username from JoanN to Dexter?

        1. re: JoanN

          This is an aside - but I noticed when stuffing those pork stuffed squid, that some of the bodies had small holes at the end, already and that pushing the stuffing through pushed out a little bit of white 'slime' that was still in the squid. After I realized that, I stopped pulling it out first!

          1. re: JoanN

            Joan, I wish I could emulate you. I bought uncleaned squid once and I totally made a mess of cleaning it. I got mine at the farmer's market _ the one in Tribeca on Saturdays. The fish guys always have whole squid. I'm not big on cutting up chicken either, Maybe if I had better knives....

            1. re: NYCkaren

              Actually, the trick, for me, to cutting up poultry is to use poultry shears. I'm also discovering that scissors are wonderful for all sorts of things, including cutting the shells of shrimp before deveining.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Amen on the poultry shears. I think I use them 5 times a week, and not just for chicken. I have 2 sets, so that when one is in the dishwasher, the other is readily available.

            2. re: JoanN

              Joan: From your description, I think Sweeney Todd would be a better fit.

              MMR: I agree about peeling pearl onions. This past week, I got a big bagful of small regular onions in the CSA box. You shoulda heard me whining about how irritating it was to peel them. Actually, I was so loud you probably did.

              1. re: oakjoan

                So *that's* what was driving my dog nuts that night!

              2. re: JoanN

                You paint an interesting picture JoanN - the image of a head poking out of a pot *shudder*. I spent a year one summer working for a chain as a prep cook - I used to have to clean vats of squid for calamari, prep chicken for the rotisserie... You do a lot of prep jobs I usually try and avoid - I am not worthy!

                1. re: JoanN

                  I've always been squeamish about splitting a live lobster for stuffing, but I'll do it. The resulting glory that a baked,stuffed lobster is, makes it worth it for me. I *like* cleaning squid.

                2. re: MMRuth

                  I'm with you on the pearl onion thing. I keep a bag of frozen in my freezer. Peeling those things is just too much work.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Yes, and cippoline are so tightly skinned it makes me want to cry. (I wear contacts, so this has nothing to do with the smell.) They're so sweet and delicious, they're worth the heightened emotion, but not too often!

                3. re: Sooeygun

                  hi, for the pearl onions try blanching them briefly. The skin should just slide right off. it is kind of fun and totally satisfying to put a little preasure on the end and have a clean pearl onion pop right out.

                  1. re: keith2000

                    Yes, this works great and it actually is kind of fun!

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      That's what I used to do but still found it aggravating!

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I guess the few times a year that I use them (mostly in stews) it doesn't bother me. Usually when I'm planning on making stew it's because I'm looking forward to the ritual of prepping all the ingredients. Also, because I always make enough stew to get us through at least 2 or 3 days at a time, I know it means I don't have any work to do the next night! :)

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          And for me, I feel as if in a stew, they don't really add much that regular onions wouldn't, even though they are cute, so to speak, so I'd just as soon use regular onions. One think that I've been thinking about as I've read this thread is that there are some tasks that I won't do for a regular meal, but that I will do for a special meal, such as peeling tomatoes. If I'm making a special meal from a Julia Child recipe, I'll do anything she tells me to do, including measuring and tying up the damn asparagus tips!


                          1. re: MMRuth

                            wow mm u are everywhere. anyway you are absolutly right there are some meals and even some styles of cooking that demand a little extra effort.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Something like lamb stew with spring vegetables - the pearl onions really make a difference to me. It makes a total difference in the appearance of the dish and I like the taste of them better then regular onions in a dish like this.

                  2. I'm with Sooeygun on the garlic thing. I buy the frozen cubes of minced and use that instead. If I need sliced, I'll do it, but I'm not happy about it!

                    1. Me three on the sticky garlic. With few exceptions, I use the minced jarred stuff, or even garlic powder. Every time I think I should be using the genuine stuff, it sprouts by the time I force myself to deal with it.

                      I hate dragging out the stand mixer so I look for recipes I can beat with a spoon or hand-mixer. Better yet, those with melted butter.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: greygarious

                        I won't deep fry. I hate the smell, the smoke, and dealing with all the oil. In fact, I tried a fried chicken tender recipe this weekend that had you pan-fry in oil that went half-way up the chicken, and I hated doing that too! What a mess. Not making that again.

                        I'm going to stick to oven-fried chicken.

                        1. re: Chile Pepper

                          Deep frying is probably the one thing I won't do also. I don't even eat fried food. Well, except for whole belly fried clams.... but that's a genetic thing.

                          I don't mind chopping the garlic, cutting raw chicken or other odious kitchen tasks that need to be done to create a perfect meal.

                          1. re: Chile Pepper

                            I have a deep fryer that filters the steam, so no odors, no spattering because the lid is closed and it is relatively easy to clean up. There are a number of things that taste better deep fried and are not greasy if fried at proper temps.

                            1. re: Chile Pepper

                              I also do not deep fry. I just can't justify having to clean EVERY surface in my kitchen after dinner.

                          2. Interesting thread, I have not found one yet that I dont like or wont do.

                            I am kind of surprised by the posts about people choosing to use frozen, pre peeled, or chopped garlic instead of peeling and mincing your own.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: swsidejim

                              Jim, I am not fast when peeling vegetables, but it is a job that must be accomplished, so I suffer though it with a sharp peeler. I actually enjoy knife work, because I find it quite relaxing and almost zen like when I am prepping mireproix for a soup or a braise. There were many days on the line when I actually volunteered to do the prep because I found it relaxing way to start the day, and seeing perfect cubes on the resulting veggies was quite satisfying. I would much rather prep the vegetation than to break down fish. Beef and pork primals were fun, but I never looked forward to prepping the fowl. I can do it, but it wasn't my favorite chore.

                              I don't enjoy cleaning the seeds from squash, but a pair of latex gloves makes the task easier. Ive never understood the problem with garlic, but I always buy hard-necked garlic that doesn't have the multitude of useless cloves in the middle.

                              I don't mind frying but I hate cleaning the resulting mess, so I rarely do it at home. I do not need the calories, so it is not a serious impediment.

                              1. re: Kelli2006

                                you are not alone, I love chopping, mincing, and cutting of all types. I think that is why I enjoy making soups so much.

                                A high quality, sharp chefs knife makes all the difference.

                                As for frying I have a deep fryer at home, and I enjoy fried chicken, chicken wings, battered mushroooms, & fried shrimp/scallops alot. Clean p isnt bad with a deep fryer.

                                1. re: Kelli2006

                                  I used to hate removing squash & melon seeds, then I found using a grapefruit spoon (serrated on the tip) makes it a breeze!

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    It works well too on tomatoes, when you are emptying them out for stuffed tomatoes.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      the mango scoop from progressive housewares is nice.

                                      doesn't tear the flesh in a zucchini like a grapefruit spoon -- which i, too, use to de-seed.

                                2. re: swsidejim

                                  same here swsidejim. I do what's needed.

                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                    absolutly about the garlic. pre peeled and chopped garlic is no bueno. Sure it can be a hard veg to work with but with a little practice, technique, and knife skill there should be no problem for anyone.

                                    1. re: keith2000

                                      Have had lots of practice, have good knife skills...still hate to do garlic.

                                      But that's a good thing about both of us are trained chefs (him working, me changed to another career), he does the tasks that I don't like and vice versa.

                                      1. re: keith2000

                                        I agree, plus the freshly peeled and minced garlic's quality is so worth any effort compared to the pre-peeled/pre-minced option to me.

                                    2. I used to hate the garlic thing, but I've somehow come around and just bear it. Now, the frustration is simply peeling the suckers. Yeah, I cut the tops and bottom then smash, just seems like a high labor/low yield thing.
                                      Not like large onions where a little work gets you a big result...

                                      What I don't like doing is a roux - I have to be in a right mindset.
                                      How many times have I worked, constantly stirring the mix, only to be distracted for a moment and burn it, just as its picking up great color. I never burn it like 10 minutes in, but rather much later when much more effort is apparently wasted...