Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boiling poultry

My friend Alicia called me recently, to ask about cooking chicken for a casserole she was making. She was about to boil it, but wasn't sure how long it should stay in or how to tell when it was done.

The easy answer is that it's done with the chicken is opaque all the way through, when you slice into a piece there's no pink or red visible. If it were a whole chicken, cooking time could be as much as 45 minutes or an hour, but a chicken breast or two could be as little as 10 or 15 minutes.

Another thing to keep in mind when cooking any meat or poultry in water is that too strong of a boil can make it tough. A boil that leans more toward a simmer is always better. Gentler is better!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Grilled Beef Kidneys (who knew?)

While visiting Los Angeles recently, I was sitting in the Tea Room of the Museum of Jurassic Technology when I received a call to the Emergency Food Hotline. I definitely haven’t received a call like this before –it concerned the grilling of beef kidneys, specifically what color they should be when they’re safe to eat. Kidneys in general are something I haven’t eaten or cooked, and the fact that they were beef was even more intriguing.

I had an idea about how long they should be grilled (depending on the thickness) and what color would equal safety, but I wanted to be sure. Since I wasn’t sitting in front of my computer, I called my mom, who is almost always near her computer, but of course she was busy. So she passed the phone to my sister, who followed my directions to get answers from a few internet food authorities. The overall response was 10-12 minutes total, firm to the touch, and still pink in the middle. If they’re overcooked, the kidneys will become very tough.

When I called the questioner back, the kidneys were already on the grill. I asked him to cut one open and let me know how much of the middle was pink—also what was the thickness? They weren’t more than a couple/few inches thick, so the center pinkness shouldn’t be more than a half or three quarters of an inch. It turned out that they were nearly finished. While I didn’t ask the caller what he was cooking them for or would be serving them with, I have done a bit of research to determine what the norm is. If the caller happens to see this post, I would love to hear what the outcome of the experiment was and how it tasted!

photos from August 2006
Meanwhile, my teatime at the Museum of Jurassic Technology ( was wonderful, and since I do not have any photos of beef (or any other) kidneys, I will leave you with the two above photos of the lovely Tula Tea Room. If you live in Los Angeles and haven't been there, please, make it there soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Late night L.A.

I keep forgetting to mention...
The best ceviche I've had pretty much ever:

photo from

LA Playita
3306 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405-5741

There's a ton of great taco stands in Los Angeles, but the last time I was in town some friends took me for some incredibly delicious eats. There's a review of La Playita on a great blog here, it says it better than I possibly could.