Cooking hacks

Hacks, or how to achieve good (not bad, not great, but good) results in an innovative, perpendicular or out-of-the-box-thinking way has moved from programming to other domains.

Life hacks are one of them. Cooking hacks too.

I love tasty and healthy food. I don’t mind cooking. I actually like it as it’s really relaxing to me. But, sometimes, if I could go 90% of the way quality-wise, but having only a portion of the work to do or time to spend I would definitely do it.

Here are three of these hacks that will bring you 90% or more of the way with a fraction of the effort (but not always total cooking time!) in term of your own time.

Hash browns waffles

Hash browns can take quite some time to cook, and you need to stick around to ensure they don’t burn. Here is a nifty trick: use your waffle maker for cooking hash browns!

  1. Shred your potatoes, season them.
  2. Fill you waffle-maker with the mix and cook them until there are nicely brown and still a bit moist inside (7-15 min, depending on your waffle-maker)

Because each dent and bump (the waffle shape) is heated, each shred of potato will cook, while none will be burned (well, unless you forget it in the maker).

Additional benefits:

  • Cool waffle shape, you can serve them as-is, fill them with things (scramble eggs, meat and veggies stew, sauce, etc), cut them in half diagonally to make them look even better, etc.
  • Replace a part of the potatoes with other veggies (I like zucchinis) for an even tastier and healthier version
  • No fat necessary with a non-stick waffle maker (but I personally like to “butter” the maker with duck fat, just for flavor sake)

Slow-cooker Beef Bourguignon

A beef bourguignon is usually done in 2 steps:

  1. Brown your beef cubes, onions and carrots
  2. Add wine and simmer at very low temperature for 3-4 hours.

Here is a simple hack:

  • do 1) in a pan, deglaze with wine,
  • then put the whole mix (beef, onions, carrots, herbs, wine) into your slow cooker. Come back 6 hours later to perfectly cooked (i.e. melting in your mouth) beef Bourguignon. No need to watch it at all.
  • The only little extra work you may need is to boil the sauce a few minutes in a pan to thicken it.

This is a great hack for a workday dinner parties. Just wake up 30 minutes earlier, do 1) and the dinner is ready when you’re back (and the house smells awesome! Winking smile).

note: it’s very important to brown the meat first as this action develops (caramelization and Maillard reaction) lots of flavors.

Rice-cooker Risotto

Similarly to the Beef Bourguignon, just brown your veggies* and a bit your Arborio (risotto) rice in a pan, then transfer it all in a rice-cooker filling it with a bit of white wine and chicken stock.

* My personal favorites are: Porcini or Chanterelle mushrooms, zucchinis (they will disappear in the process, melting with the rice this way children don’t even know they’re eating veggies), onions, garlic, red pepper slides.

No need to steer and add water every few minutes. It will come out creamy (thanks to the Arborio rice starch) and ready to eat 20-30 minutes after.

Note: you may need to add a bit of stock or water at the end before serving to release the creaminess of the meal as the rice cooker will have evaporated a lot of the moisture. Just pour a bit of the liquid in the rice cooker, stir and serve (with Parmesan of course).

If I find other hacks I’ll share them with you and if you have other ones feel free to add them in comments!

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