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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.

                                2. Pretty much fried anything. Some baked goods like you mentioned...croissants, or if I need a nice looking cake or cupcakes. My cakes/cupcakes taste great but they usually look not so great.

                                  And fish. I'm not very experienced cooking it, and since it's expensive for good quality, I'm always worried I'll mess it up. So, I'd rather just pay a bit more and let a good seafood place do it for me.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Interestingly, I started to fry a bit more when I stopped using my electric deep fryer (Costco). That SOB was such a PITA to clean, that I liked the idea of it more than I liked it.
                                    For the occasion that I really want to fry, I use my cast iron enamel and a thermometer.
                                    Dang, now I want Bang Bang Shrimp!

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I think part of my frying fear is that I have an electric stove, so regulating temperature to do things like frying or candy making (I guess that's another one I can add to the list of stuff I leave to the experts) is difficult, unless I use multiple burners (not what you want to do with a big pan of hot oil).

                                      And yes, some Bang Bang Shrimp sounds delightful right now.

                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                        Oh, yes, I don't think I'd be frying without gas. Speaking of that shrimp, the reason why it's such an appealing thing to fry is that it's so quick.
                                        I have much more trepidation about cooking say, a chicken thigh, for much longer.
                                        With seafood, you're in and done quickly, and there's nothing like a light, crisp coating.

                                  2. Bread. In fact, all baked goods. I don't eat much since I went low-carb. But even before, I never baked. PS I love to fry.

                                    18 Replies
                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                      Definitely baking, bread especially. Every once in a while I try, inevitably fail, then sulk for several months before repeating.

                                      1. re: Kontxesi

                                        I don't want to sound like a broken record, because it's been discussed so much here, but if you have not yet, try the CI almost no knead bread.
                                        I just about cried when I pulled out my first loaf!
                                        (in a good way)

                                        1. re: monavano

                                          Hmmm.... What kind of beer do you use? I don't drink, so I don't know one from another.

                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                            I use a light lager and have even used non alcoholic beer. I've frozen what I don't need in ice cube trays, then plastic bags.

                                        2. re: Kontxesi

                                          Kontxezi..........When the weather warms up just bite the bullet and do a *no knead *loaf. It will boost your confidence and you can *riff* off of that base recipe and make baguettes, pizza dough, separate your dough and make smaller loaves etc. Come on you can do it!

                                          1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                            Soitenly! But I have never understood the cult of the bagel. Of course, they 'ain't what they used to be', so maybe back in the day....

                                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                              I have a great recipe for bagels from the old Harrowsmith magazine. Really easy to make and very good. (course if you are referring to those horrible hockey puck, sit in the bottom of your stomach New York style bagels, I concur that I wouldn't want to make them!)

                                              1. re: williej

                                                And what "non-New York" style of bagels would yours be?

                                                1. re: rjbh20

                                                  I am curious about this as well...

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      I'm hoping for the famous St, Louis style. Or maybe Salt Lake City.

                                                      1. re: rjbh20

                                                        There is a "Salt Lake City" bagel style? Are you joshing me? I will be there next week!

                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          Sure -- it's big favorite of the massive Jewish community in that town....

                                                          1. re: rjbh20

                                                            Grrrr......I am grabbing at straws here....

                                                      2. re: williej

                                                        Horrible? Pardon me but there is no other bagel besides a New York bagel!

                                                  1. @Gothamette. I have baked professionally so your list is something that I can and actually have done in my sleep.

                                                    I don't often make donuts or cannoli at home because I hate the mess that deep fat frying creates, especially when you are only making a dozen or so.

                                                    I leave ethnic (Indian and Asian) food to the experts because I don't have the experience or the ingredients for those dishes.

                                                    I don't fry at home because I refuse to clean splattered grease from every surface in my kitchen.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                                      "I don't fry at home because I refuse to clean splattered grease from every surface in my kitchen."

                                                      Bless your soul for saying that.

                                                      I read the foodie sites and they always wax so lyrical about just perfect fried foods. I end up with a grease laden kitchenette and I'm exhausted after the cleanup. And then there's all that once-used oil to throw out.

                                                      1. re: gothamette

                                                        I so agree with you, Frying is messy and it smells the house up.

                                                      2. re: Kelli2006

                                                        I will do the obligatory stir fry but anything more complex?.....get your coat. hon. We're going to Mulan!

                                                        BTU's in the tens of thousands, 30 inch woks with thousands of miles on them, dishes that hit your table and you can feel the heat from them two feet away, wok hei one only dreams about at home.

                                                        1. re: hyde

                                                          @Gothamette. I can make very good fried chicken and fish if I have a double basket fryolator in a commercial kitchen, but I'm not going to make that level of mess at home for 2-3 people. I'm happy to pay Popeyes for the occasional fried chicken dinner. I already have a family history of high cholesterol, so that is not something that I do very often.

                                                          I have the 16" wok, but I don't have the necessary BTUs to generate wok hei. A 20K BTU former NASA rocket engine is part of my dream kitchen.

                                                          I can do a decent stirfry, but its just not as good as what I can buy for $6.00 at the local Chinese place that is 6 blocks away.

                                                          1. re: Kelli2006

                                                            OT, but fried things won't raise your cholesterol :-)

                                                            Enjoy your Popeye's!

                                                          2. re: hyde

                                                            I rarely make Chinese food, except for dumplings, cause I can get really, really good in about a ten minute drive.

                                                            Generally speaking, if I don't make it it's because I'm not that interested in it. If it's something I really love, I'll give it a shot.

                                                        2. Oaxacan mole, chiles en nogada

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            I made mole once and ruined my Le Creuset. Not doing that again when I can buy it premade for a few dollars per tub.

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              My sure-fire recipe for Oaxacan mole negro:
                                                              1. go to farmers' market
                                                              2. find the stand with the Oaxacan food
                                                              3. offer to exchange money for a container of mole

                                                              Perfect every time!

                                                              I've done simpler moles from scratch, and they are a lot of work! Chiles rellenos in general I leave up to the experts.

                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                Agreed! Unless you are a plump Mexican woman, about 5" tall, with a gold rimmed tooth and a wide smile, your tamales will probably suck!

                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                  So, your saying I should be able to make them in thirty years or so? Sweet.

                                                                  1. re: rabaja

                                                                    With 30 years of practice! Tamales are like getting to Carnegie Hall...

                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                      One step toward being a hot tamale!

                                                                        1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                          <whispers>let's meet here---Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel in 30 years....we'll go get rabaja and take over the world

                                                                    2. re: pinehurst

                                                                      I had a friend, non-Mexican, who made them at Christmas time some years ago. They were great but she said never again. Too much work.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        I make tamales sometimes. Once you get it down, they're not that hard. I have most recently learned to only make about a dozen, then you're not standing there making them forever and using huge pots, etc.

                                                                        I can knock out a dozen cheese and roasted poblano tamales pretty fast.

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            This, pretty much exactly. The first time I made them they were a messy, time-consuming disaster. Last year for Christmas, I was given the gift of a tamale-making class, and even just a little bit of guidance made all the difference in the world. I've made them a few times since, always just enough for a meal plus leftovers, and they've turned out great every time.

                                                                            You have to know what consistency you're aiming for with the masa. After that, it's no harder than stuffing folding any other type of dumpling/stuffed pasta etc.

                                                                      2. Chinese food
                                                                        Whole belly clams, fried

                                                                        1. With the exception of mozzarella and small batches of goat cheese when the curd and milk are avail for each, CHEESE. I leave cheese making to the experts...with my thanks and respect :)

                                                                          1. Pho

                                                                            Until I have a family of six or more to feed, I'll just go out for a bowl. Even then, I would probably still go out for pho.

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: seamunky

                                                                              I make Andrea Nguyen's pho bo recipe and I make a HUGE batch of the broth. Freeze in meal-size portions. THEN it's super easy.

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                I learned that the secret to great Pho is the broth. I make the broth in 2 gallon batches and freeze it in ice cube trays. I can now make a very respectful bowl of pho in about 20 minutes.

                                                                                My next Vietnamese mountain to climb is Bun bo Hue.

                                                                                1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                  And fantastic cubes for a BullShot

                                                                              2. re: seamunky

                                                                                Has anybody ever tried to just buy the broth to use or freeze? That would be just my speed. I could then just work on "the fixins", as needed.

                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                  The broth is pretty/quite specific so unless you could buy it from a restaurant, I doubt it. But, as I and others have posted, make a huge batch and then use it for months.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Yeah, I meant from a restaurant. During cool months I buy pho at least once a week, and when I get it to go, it comes as a tub of broth with 4 meatballs, a tub of noodles and cold sliced meats, and a baggie of greens like cilantro, Thai basil, jalepeno, and bean sprouts. I can never finish it, and save the broth, but the rest doesn't keep as well.

                                                                                  2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                    I've done this. In SF my fave pho place (Turtle Tower) will sell you an extra quart of broth for something like $5.
                                                                                    Great during the cold season.

                                                                                2. Dim sum, vienoisserie, bread, cakes

                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jadec

                                                                                    I took an Asian dumpling class last year and learned a bunch of dumpling doughs. Next on my list is chicken feet. I have some in the freezer :)

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      I use chicken feet in soup. But I don't know how to cook them as feet. I didn't know anyone did.

                                                                                      1. re: gothamette

                                                                                        As a dim sum dish, they're one of our faves. I've saved this Serious Eats recipe:


                                                                                        1. re: gothamette

                                                                                          just used 3 packs of feet in broth that i cooked for 36 hours. omg, delish and so gelatinous.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I bet! Are you making something special out of it?

                                                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                              i have broth with seaweed and eggs for breakfast most days.

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                Do you cook the eggs in advance of assembling?

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  nope. i put them raw in a bowl and pour the heated broth over, while swirling -- like egg drop soup.

                                                                                                  this batch of broth also was cooked with lemongrass, ginger, couple scotch bonnets and some garlic. very tasty.

                                                                                                  i do use it if i'm making rice or some such for the b/f, but mostly just eat it for health. :)

                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                    I love a raw egg over hot rice so what you do is quite appealing. Thanks.

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      That sounds great. I'll try it with the last couple of farm fresh eggs I have. I don't have any scotch bonnets but I still have serranos in my garden I can use, I have everything else in the fridge.

                                                                                                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                        after finishing, i strain out all the stuff and reduce it way down so it stores more compactly. it's jello at this point.

                                                                                                        i lop off a chunk, add it to a pan with water and some dried seaweed and simmer. then add salt. in winter it is my favorite breakfast.

                                                                                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                When I make stock it's usually feet, necks and backs.

                                                                                        2. Baguettes- two blocks away i can get a great one for $2

                                                                                          Bagels- since i'm in nyc i'm never far from a good one

                                                                                          Ice creams/gelatos- because if i made these at home i would need bigger pants

                                                                                          French fries- a rare craving for me, but i'm just not going deal with the mess

                                                                                          Sushi rolls (i make miso soup and sashimi at home)

                                                                                          1. Burgers, tonkotsu ramen, empanadas , eccles cakes. Also nasi lemak, though this is gonna change when I get my coconut grater and make my own coconut milk.

                                                                                            1. Sichuan food. We have a pretty good number of *very good* Sichuan restaurants in town, so despite having a Sichuan cookbook, I simply cannot be bothered to try and recreate any of the dishes I eat on a weekly basis.

                                                                                              Baked goods. I don't bake.

                                                                                              1. Anything fried, including chicken. I'm not set up to do it right and I don't want to clean up after it.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                  Oh come on -- all it takes is a pan and a stove. And the cleanup is the same as frying bacon. Go for it.

                                                                                                  1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                    I don't like fried food enough to make the effort. The place down the street makes killer fried chicken and it's rare I even want any. On the very rare occasion I make bacon I do it in the oven, bacon is usually diced and used as an ingredient here- or just the fat is used.

                                                                                                2. Restaurants make better seafood than do I. I'm sure they buy better seafood, which is half the battle.

                                                                                                  Add me to the no-deep-frying-at-home club. Even if I wasn't afraid of burning the house down, I don't want to deal with the mess or odor.

                                                                                                  1. Anything I can buy better within 4 blocks of my house:

                                                                                                    There is better pie within 1 mile but I still try that.

                                                                                                    1. Biscuits. I live in the deep South, and I leave that art up to the cooks who have been making biscuits the way that MeeMaw made biscuits.

                                                                                                      Pintos. See above.

                                                                                                      Agree with OP on the English muffins. Mine sucked, too. Thomas's or Bays are just fine with me.

                                                                                                      1. English muffins & bagels. Not worth the effort.

                                                                                                        1. Fried calamari. I love it cooked well - I've tried to cook it once. I rarely fry (soft shell crabs only) - my calamari cooked too fast, was hard and created such a stench in the kitchen I was totally surprised. Never again.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                            They take about 30 seconds tops. I toss them in cornstarch seasoned with salt & pepper. Easy and delicious.

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              linguafood what about the odor? I'm talking about an odor that was very offensive - definitely not an average fried odor. Is that just because it's calamari? It definitely cooked too fast and was overdone but it was not burned and the oil wasn't scorched.

                                                                                                              1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                Hmm. Well, you'll have to deal with a bit of that hot oil smell you get from....frying in oil :-D

                                                                                                                But otherwise, it shouldn't be smellier than, say, frying eggplant.

                                                                                                                One of the reasons I'm on the same page as most people here is that our ventilation system sucks (no outside vent and a cheap-ass hood at that), and while I can deal with many food smells (even cabbage or eggs... bacon's almost considered a perfume around these parts), that lingering fry smell is not my favorite.

                                                                                                                I've gotten that from fondue, too, and I just don't like it. It lingers more than bacon or cabbage or eggs, and it's unpleasant.

                                                                                                                We do own a deep-fryer but prefer to use it out on the patio. Which means we don't use it regularly.

                                                                                                            2. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                              totally agree!! Honey we have a box of squid (whole!) how does fried calamari sound for lunch-sounds great! 3 hours later lunch....

                                                                                                              Will never brew my own beer or make my own wine leave that to the experts...


                                                                                                            3. Somewhat astonished at the prevalence of frying phobia, especially fried chicken. Admittedly, if you have a closed apartment with no ventilation it's a little aromatic, but no more so than cooking burgers in a skillet. It's really not hard or particularly messy if you pay attention to some basic principles.

                                                                                                              I'm doing 40 lbs of chicken wings this Sunday. Admittedly I have a great hood, but otherwise no special equipment other than a few pots and a few cold PBRs.

                                                                                                              21 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                'Admittedly, if you have a closed apartment with no ventilation it's a little aromatic, but no more so than cooking burgers in a skillet. '

                                                                                                                No way. A burger you put on a lightly greased skillet, fried chicken you need to immerse in hot fat. The two aren't remotely comparable.

                                                                                                                1. re: gothamette

                                                                                                                  If you do chicken correctly, it's not immersed. And if you sear your burger, it produces smoke from the burning beef fat, unlike fried chicken, which mostly releases water vapor.

                                                                                                                  I made plenty of fried chicken when I lived in apartments with little/no ventilation and it wasn't a problem.

                                                                                                                  1. re: gothamette

                                                                                                                    The burger produces more fat sizzling and smoke than chicken being fried in a decent fat/oil source at the correct temperature with the proper ratio of chicken to oil in the pan.@ least for me it does.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                      Spoken like a true chicken fryer. You're from the south, right?

                                                                                                                      1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                        Good Heavens no! I am from a little town 35 miles north of San Francisco (Petaluma) it is about 16 miles inland from Bodega Bay and maybe 9 miles west of Sonoma. My late mom was a superb scratch cook so I was *shown the ropes* by watching and helping her from age 4.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                          Know it well & been there many times. Never made it to the world wrist-wrestling championshps though.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                            It is a beautiful town. Just the west side of town though:) Small world!

                                                                                                                  2. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                    My fear of frying stems from the potential for kitchen fires, I get distracted too easily and so many kitchen fires start from oil frying. I also find it messy and do not like the smell either. I live in Montreal, a hot dog stand is always around a corner if I want fries, and the like.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                      Fair enough -- you do need to pay attention when you're frying. Exhibit A is the annual Thanksgiving YouTube montage of idiots burning down their houses frying turkeys.

                                                                                                                    2. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                      I don't have outside ventilation (just a re-circulating micro-hood), and I have an electric stove. And, my entire first floor is an "open plan" so anything I make that's "aromatic" will smell up the entire first floor (and sometimes makes it's way upstairs) for a couple days. I don't even like doing stuff like burgers on the stove for that reason.

                                                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                        Makes sense. It's not the frying, it's "aromatic" cooking in general. I totally agree and detest cooking odors in the house. Which is why I have a hood that will suck the dog off the floor when I crank it up.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                          I don't particularly notice any smell other than the food. I suppose if the oil got too hot. And as for fire danger, well, yeah, you do have to pay attention. But I've been frying in a DO since a CH recommended it to me. There's a big space between the top of the oil and the top of the pot.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                            Trust me, if I had any say when this house was built, I'd have one too. Our micro-hood is even on an exterior wall, so no idea why the builder didn't do a vented hood, or why my SO didn't ask for one :-P

                                                                                                                        2. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                          Why I don't fry: 1) It smells 2) I am left with a lot of expensive liquified fat that is awkward to store and may retain unwanted flavors 3) It makes a mess 4) I don't want that much fat in my diet. My great-grandma could fry potatoes like nobody else---she used more than an inch of bacon fat in the skillet. I just can't do it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                            That's cool. But 4) applies whether you or someone else does the cooking :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                              1) see above -- it doesn't smell more than lots of other cooking and less than,say, frying burgers.

                                                                                                                              3) no more so than anything other than boiling. I find roasting fowl to be the consummate mess maker (and aroma generator)

                                                                                                                              4) already addressed by c Oliver

                                                                                                                              2) You can get a gallon of canola oil at for $7 or so an you only need a quart or less for most things. $1.75 is probably less than the coffee you had this morning. As to storage, just pour it into an empty plastic soda/water bottle and toss,

                                                                                                                              Go ahead -- you'll love the result

                                                                                                                              1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                I'm REALLY lucky that I have an induction cooktop where, at the least, I just use a wet, soapy sponge and then glass cleaner. Or when I'm being really on top of it (literally!) I can put newspaper down between the cooktop and the pot!!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                    VERY cool. I didn't buy it for the ease of cleaning but it's just great!

                                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                    Also (I think/hope), no danger that a boil-over will catch and burn your house down. (Am I correct,? No induction experience.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                                                      Right!. Cause there's no flame and also because beyond the 'ring' of the 'burner,' it's completely cool.

                                                                                                                          2. Oil fried foods. French fries, fish and chips, onion rings and the like. I will pan roast but no frying in my house.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                The mess, the food odors, the safety of it all.

                                                                                                                            1. I wish I could bone a whole chicken.
                                                                                                                              I wish I could make rolled fondant.
                                                                                                                              I wish I could make spun sugar.

                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                I have always dreamed about accomplishing boning out a whole chicken filling it and roasting it. I also wish I had the guts to attempt procuring a goose and roasting it and also making all of the luscious fat laden luxurious chicken liver recipes I have been looking at.

                                                                                                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                  De boning a bird (or bunny). actually isn't all that hard. Just takes the right knife and a little patience. Like most cooking things.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                    That first plate with the rolled stuffed meat is perfection. I was thinking a good sharp boning knife and a non slippery surface might make it doable. I will watch some YouTube videos and give it a go this spring. I agree about the patience and the proper kitchen tools. I grew up butchering whole chickens for Sunday dinners so what is removing a bone or two right?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                      The main thing is -- just do it! If you bugger it up the first time, make pot pie & try again.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                    I still miss those whole boneless chickens Bo Pilgrim came out with about 30 years ago. But they didn't take off as expected. Soon it was 2 for $5.00 which was a great deal. Then they just disappeared.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                    I learned to debone chicken from Pepin. When they went on sale I bought some to practice on. Even if you mess them up you can still bake or boil them.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: andy43

                                                                                                                                      Wow that was a great video, he makes it look so easy. I think I'll try this out next time chickens go on sale.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: andy43

                                                                                                                                        Loving the video and the gorgeous Jacques.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                            Who but Jacques could make brutalizing a whole chicken look appealing? What a fine looking elegant man he is:)

                                                                                                                                    2. Anything where I have to put in a lot of effort, but mine doesn't taste any better than what I can buy. Tamales, Bagels, Pretzels, Donuts, Fried Chicken, home made pasta.

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                        I was pretty with you til the pasta. I don't make pasta often but it's about a million times better than any I can buy.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          A package of fresh pasta from the store, after you put sauce on it, is very close to my home made. Not worth the effort. I've used my manual Atlas pasta machine about 5 times in 20 years.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                            Since for me the most important part is the pasta that is subsequently lightly 'dressed' with sauce, the pasta plays the major role.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                              I find commercial "fresh" pasta very boingy. And it takes me 5 minutes to make pasta and another 10 to sheet it (excluding the resting time when you're doing something else anyway) so I never think to buy commercial fresh pasta.

                                                                                                                                        2. I will leave the *dispatching* then steaming of all fresh Dungeness crabs to the adept hands of the sweet little man @ the Asian Market. Thank you very much.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                              Have you tried, kudos for just trying. I won't even buy one!

                                                                                                                                            2. Pastrami. My Dad told me 'Don't even bother to try!', so I haven't. Could I be missing something?

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                                                                I start with using one of the corned beef "things" for lack of a better word that show up in late February. Basically then just pepper/season it and smoke it. I wouldn't bother with the whole corning/brining process but it's a fun cheat.

                                                                                                                                                And there isn't much in the way of good pastrami around here so I play.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                  I did try it starting with a whole brisket once, and I thought it was awesome. I will try the corned beef cheat if I find the "point", instead of the "flat".

                                                                                                                                              2. Most fried foods, although every october I do a schnitzel style pork chop to commemorate our Austrian vacation a couple years back. Which is just enough frying to convince me to hold off till next year.

                                                                                                                                                Otherwise most breads/bread type products. I don't have the counter space for proper kneading in this kitchen. Sushi/sashimi,

                                                                                                                                                1. Those oily and greasey "cream" sauces served in chains. I couldn't even start to think of what kind of chemical shitbomb goes into making these horrible concoctions. Anything to avoid using real cream it seems.
                                                                                                                                                  Yeah. I'll leave those factory foods to the "experts".

                                                                                                                                                  1. Sushi (not the California roll kind). Given that legit sushi chefs spend a year of their education perfecting the rice, then another year learning to cut the fish, I leave this work to them. Will make maki at home, though rarely (prefer onigiri) but the real stuff I leave to the experts.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodslut

                                                                                                                                                      Also a couple more years learning which fish are safe to eat. Every case of getting sick from raw fish I've heard of has been from an amateur, not a qualified sushi chef.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Deep frying. That's a job for the nice man at the chip shop. I eat from that category infrequently enough that oil I used to do deep fry at home would end up being single-use. A waste of time, food, and money for me.

                                                                                                                                                      Also, bread in the form of sandwich loaves and rolls. With two bakeries within 45 seconds walk of my house, that's another task I gladly outsource.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Hotpot and bibimbap are two that I rarely do at home. At a restaurant, they handle all the prep, and I get a wide range of ingredients to go in them. For example, at a hotpot restaurant I'll have a choice of a dozen different vegetables, five different leafy greens, four different mushrooms, dumplings, fish balls, dried noodles, mochi, with ice cream, beverages, and dipping sauces provided. For the bibimbap, doing the stone hotpot (my favourite version) at home is impractical.

                                                                                                                                                        For some reason I never cook burgers at home - that's always a going out dish.

                                                                                                                                                        1. For the frying thing - one reason for not frying at home (aside from the heat and the mess) is that deep fried foods are best right after they're cooked. If you're frying for a family, that means you stand over a hot stove while everyone else eats, and get to eat after everyone else. At a restaurant, you can all eat together.

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                            Nah :) I have my oven on at about 250 with a baking sheet lined with a brown paper grocery bag. Keeps the food nicely hot and I can just add more layers of bags as I need.

                                                                                                                                                            @tastesgood..., since we started grinding our own meat, except for drive thru, fast food, we haven't had a burger out in several years that I can remember.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              I find that it works better if you use a rack rather than paper -- keeps the bottom from getting soggy. Actually, I've found that fried chicken benefits from a brief stay in the oven -- makes the skin crispier.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rjbh20

                                                                                                                                                                I've used a rack occasionally but the brown, paper grocery bags seems to be thick enough to not be a problem. But, ya know, it may just be that my mother did that so I do also :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. Greek and Middle Eastern. There are so many good restaurants that offer it, often at reasonable prices, that it is not worth the trouble attempting same yourself. Unless you are Greek or Middle Eastern, of course.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Anything deep-fried (fear of hot oil plus don't eat it too often).
                                                                                                                                                              Good yeast bread.
                                                                                                                                                              Pizza (don't have the right oven for it + yeast dough).
                                                                                                                                                              Ethnic cousines (due to many obscure ingredients that will go to waste since I don't get cravings very often).
                                                                                                                                                              Anything that should have a fresh ingredient of high quality that is unavailable at a store or would cost too much - I'd rather spend that money on prepared dish that is complete (sushi, expensive fishes, some seafood - lobster, scallops, oysters).

                                                                                                                                                              1. Like many, I don't bake bread or god forbid puff pastry.

                                                                                                                                                                I'll make sushi even though the fish looks like it was hacked at with hedge trimmers. The rice though is another matter. Tsuji describes the technique, saying one doesn't compress the rice, and if done properly the individual grains should be oriented in the same direction. There are of course many techniques I have not mastered but I cannot even conceive how it would be possible to build such a block of rice. I'm still practicing wad and press.

                                                                                                                                                                On the other hand I deep fry when I want something deep fried, although it's been a while. And there's a local merchant who sells moist masa. It's pretty much a cinch to roll it into tamales inside parchment paper.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I find it's not so much a matter of the effort not being worth the trouble from a standpoint of *result* (everything on the list below I've done at least as well and usually considerably better than what I can buy), but rather from a standpoint of *ancillary work or equipment needed*. Either the cleanup is endless, you need specialised and expensive machinery, or there are a lot of steps involving waiting and/or pre-preparation. Another reason can be that you can't make it well below a minimum quantity that simply isn't practical in a home context. So:

                                                                                                                                                                  Chocolate bars (you don't want to know the machinery and process required, and yes, I've done it)
                                                                                                                                                                  Ice Cream (if I could find a machine that could give me control over freezing temperature profile (not just temperature), dasher speeds, overrun percentages, and motor torques and cutoffs, I might do it. But such machines only exist AFAIK for professional applications)
                                                                                                                                                                  Espresso (the setup and cleanup is nightmarish)
                                                                                                                                                                  Croissants and their related raised-dough puff-pastry cousins (I'm fine with ordinary puff pastry and make it a fair amount. Likewise with ordinary bread. But combining both means long waits - and it turns out, essentially REQUIRES that you get up at the crack of dawn, far too early for me.)
                                                                                                                                                                  Chinese dim sum (Love it. But the problem here is half about quantity - it's hard to make a small amount, and half about number of separate things you have to make - just completely impractical from a home standpoint, except, perhaps, for a very festive occasion)

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                                                    Re dim sum, I took an Asian dumpling class last year and I can now knock out a couple of dumpling dishes and a non-dumpling dish or two pretty easily in a quantity that's right for just the two of us. But I do this because I have NO access to dim sum locally. When I did, I didn't :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Definitely soft shell crab. I just can't snip their little faces off,

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Fugu.
                                                                                                                                                                        Pressed duck.