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Jan 28, 2014 09:27 AM

What Food Do You Leave to the Experts?

I'm going on a cannoli hunt later in February, and the thought just occurred to me that I've tried to cook or bake many things but never cannoli. Nor would I.

In my case, elaborate or fried things like cannoli, doughnuts, croissants would top the list. Sure, I can make them, but I don't think that my efforts are worth the trouble. Not to mention, these are things best eaten fresh, and unless I have a party, they'll go stale.

Do you have a food that you think is just best left to the experts?

Update: English muffins as well. I tried making them and they simply sucked. Burned on the outside, raw on the inside. Leave to Thomas's!

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  1. If the necessary ingredients cost more....or if I cannot make it any better than prepared and purchased....I leave it to others. Your examples are the same as mine...especially the fried aspect....For me it's Fried Chicken.

    17 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Yeah, I love fried chicken but in my little kitchen it's just a horrible mess. I do a mock fried chicken in my convection oven, but a deep fryer - nope. I'm not sure I'd fry even if I had a back yard! I just can't stand the thought of wasting all that oil.

      1. re: gothamette

        +1 for fried chicken or anything deep fried, for that matter. Also sweetbreads, of all things. I happen to love them but they're a little too labor-intensive for me to attempt on my own. But I do order them whenever I see them on a menu.

        1. re: medrite

          +2. I can't make fried anything worth a damn.

          1. re: medrite

            Are sweetbreads anything like chicken livers? Because if they are, I have a nice easy way of making them. Which is, line my little countertop convection oven with foil, put the kidneys on, either coated in flour or not, salt, pepper, maybe paprika, drizzle with a little oil, then bake until done. Turn once. What's done? Keep checking.

            1. re: gothamette

              Sweetbreads are a gland, I think the thymus gland, from a calf or a lamb. They have to be soaked for several hours or overnight first, then blanched, then you have to remove the extraneous veins & tissue -- and that's before you actually get around to cooking them. Not impossible for a home cook, I guess, but I'm just too lazy to do it.

              Your kidney recipe sounds good though, I might be tempted to try it if I could find a butcher in my neighborhood that sells them.

              1. re: medrite

                Huh. I've made sweetbreads a few times at home. Never soaked, never blanched, didn't have veins or tissue to remove. I do try to remove some of the membrane, but generally give up at some point because they just become too disconnected.

                I then dust them lightly in seasoned flour and pan-fry in loads of butter. Serve with several lemon wedges.


                1. re: medrite

                  Ugh, senioritis intrudes. I said liver first, then kidneys. I meant livers. Chicken livers, the type that comes in the tub. Cheap even here in Manhattan. Sorry.

              2. re: medrite

                If you want to try sweetbreads again, here's a recipe I made. VERY straightforward and wonderful.


                1. re: c oliver

                  well, you've certainly gotten me hungry...

                  1. re: medrite

                    Ooh, I forgot to include the picture of our dinner :)

                  2. re: c oliver

                    Could someone explain to me why all this prep work is needed? I've never done it and had great results.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      *I* don't know :) At least the recipe I used didn't have you weigh it down with bricks! And the meat I used really didn't have much membrane at all on it. I wish I had regular access to them. Maybe when we're in NYC starting next week!

                      1. re: linguafood

                        Here's an eGullet diiscussion. Doesn't seem to really say why.


                        1. re: linguafood

                          Soaking in salt water will remove any trace of blood whereas the blanching will firm up the tissue making it easier to work with when removing any membrane or gristle. IIRC the gland itself is lobed and held together by the membrane. So if you were to remove all of the membrane without blanching, the gland would just come apart.

                          1. re: JungMann

                            Makes sense. The ones I got were 'stain-free' and barely any discernible membrane so I'd have probably been fine eliminating those steps. ?

                            1. re: JungMann

                              A-HA!! Thanks for the explanation, JM. That was indeed what was happening to me. The gland just separating more and more while removing the membrane.

                              JM to the rescue!

                      2. re: gothamette

                        I like to make Maryland chicken with cream gravy. Shallow fried, so doesn't make as much of a mess.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        this. ^^^^

                        i don't care for cannoli or donuts, so have zero desire to make stuff like that.

                        btw, what's a cannoli hunt? do you need a license for that? ;)

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Only during official cannoli season ;-)

                        2. re: GH1618

                          Same. Home versions are all right, but good sushi (esp. rice) is something the pros do much better.

                          1. Yeah to most fried foods and everything you mentioned, although I will make chicken tenders and fry them up every now and again. And basically what fourunder said. Sorry, I'm not very original today.

                            1. Cakes, especially if there needs to be nice piping done.

                              When the children were young, we made our fair share of cakes. Now that they've moved out of the house we found it easier to just to buy a small one to suit our cravings or for parties.

                              A local French bakery makes beautiful cakes and tortes that would take me all day to poorly replicate. I'll spend the money to save ourselves from the aggravation.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: dave_c

                                How brave of you to admit this on Chowhound.


                                1. re: gothamette

                                  Ain't no shame in Dave's game. If he can't make a fine pastry himself at least he buys from an artisan.

                                  1. re: gothamette

                                    I once read a thing that suggested that the difference between French home cooking and American home cooking can be readily summed up in the fact that French cooks buy pastries and make croutons while Americans make pastries and buy croutons. So perhaps Dave is simply emulating the French.