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The Gentle Cook

Posted Oct 09 2011 1:50pm

Have you tried making hasty tasty meals with disappointing results? Try the opposite, what I call GENTLE cooking. The difference in a hasty tasty meal and a gently cooked meal is planning. No rushed last minute meals allowed.

The concept is simple, one our great-grandmothers and grandmothers knew well: low and slow. When you cook over low heat for a long time, you give food the chance to develop its natural flavors. You don’t risk burning or toughening food when you gently cook. Unlike hasty tasty meals, a gently cooked meal takes time. (Not to be confused with slow-cooker cooking, which takes hours)

The upside of low and slow is multi-tasking. If you start your meal gently cooking, you don’t need to stand and tend to it. You can put pots on the range or in the oven to start cooking gently then go on to other chores like laundry, checking e-mails, or cleaning the kitchen. You can set the table at your leisure. In a way, it’s more relaxed cooking.

Here is a gently cooked meal as an example. Prep produce for carrots and broccoli. Place the carrots in a 1½ quart pan (carrots have a longer cooking time than broccoli), cover, and turn the burner on low. If your range is gas, this is the lowest setting; electric range setting would be one notch higher than warm.

Take frozen fish fillets, season, and place in a dry 10” skillet. Cover and turn heat to its lowest setting as you did the carrots.

Do not lift the lids on the pans. You can check for steam by spinning the lids. If they spin freely, you have vapor seal. This is what you want. If the lid rattles and steam spews around the edges, lower the heat or use a flame-tamer.

After about twenty minutes, add the broccoli to the 1½ quart pan on top the carrots. Replace the lid and allow broccoli to steam at least twenty minutes for firm. Add time if you like broccoli super tender, taking care not to overcook. Broccoli cooked gently will not turn an ugly brownish color, even if it overcooks a bit.

After about forty-five minutes, dinner is ready to serve. You will get nothing but compliments on your delicious meal, and you can relax and enjoy dinner, too. Gentle cooking makes cleanup easy, especially if you use quality heavy-gauge cookware that evenly distributes the heat. No hot spots means no burned on food. Best of all, slow cooking requires little to no fat, which means healthier meals!

Gently cooked fish dinner


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