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What does "crisp-tender" mean?

b
breed7 Feb 8, 2013 10:27 PM

I was given a recipe for what I was told was FANTASTIC vegetarian chili. It looked good (made with sweet potatoes and black beans), so I decided to make it for dinner.

The first instruction confused me, though. The recipe called for the sweet potato to be cut into 1/2" cubes, and an onion to be finely chopped. These two ingredients were to be put into a dutch oven with a small amount of olive oil and cooked over medium-high heat until "crisp-tender."

I've never encountered cooking instructions that call for vegetables to be cooked to "crisp-tender." I was unsure what that even meant. I know about sweating onions, about sauteing onions until translucent, about sauteing onions until they take on color, but I don't know what "crisp-tender" is.

Can anyone explain this? Is this a proper cooking instruction?

  1. f
    fourunder Feb 8, 2013 10:39 PM

    I would surmise it simply means to brown or caramelize the outside surface area of the sweet potato and not over cook, but until the in.side is soft and you can pierce with a knfe tip

    1. m
      madeliner Feb 8, 2013 10:45 PM

      maybe the same thing as fresh frozen?

      :)

      1. v
        Violatp Feb 8, 2013 10:59 PM

        Picture picking it up and snapping it with your fingers. You can snap a slice of raw potato but if you bite into it, I wouldn't call it tender.

        So, it's a stage where it'll still snap when you, well, snap it, easier to bite into than raw, but not fully cooked to completely tender.

        1. mariacarmen Feb 8, 2013 11:04 PM

          i think it means what it says - crisp yet tender. crisp on the outside but tender inside.

          1. m
            MrsJonesey Feb 9, 2013 06:23 AM

            It is an odd term, now that you mention it. I've think I've seen it used mostly for blanching vegetables, where it seems to make more sense, to me anyway. Also seems more appropriate to describe certain vegetables like green beans or broccoli, as opposed to a potato or sweet potato. A green bean or piece of broccoli will go limp before turning mushy, so you have that extra stage, say than with a piece of sweet potato which will go from "crisp-tender" straight to mushy. All this to say I think the recipe writer wanted the cook to get the sweet potato a little tender without letting the edges get soft. The end product would have pieces of sweet potato with defined edges and a clearer broth, whereas taking it to a softer stage would give you mushy pieces of sweet potato and a perhaps overly thick liquid base. Just my 2 cents.

            1. h
              Harters Feb 9, 2013 07:12 AM

              It's similar to what the Italians would call "al dente" (if that helps any). I see it used as a term for several vegetables - green beans, for instance - where it's intended that the bean is cooked past the squeaky stage, but isnt yet completely soft.

              1. blue room Feb 9, 2013 07:17 AM

                I'd call it halfway between a raw piece of celery and a piece of celery from canned soup, like you'd find in minestrone or chicken noodle.

                1. dave_c Feb 9, 2013 07:18 AM

                  That's a cooking term that I've rarely seen used in recipes, but crisp-tender is cooking the sweet potatoes where it's still have some bite, but cooked through. I think most recipes would use al dente.

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