Chef Sara Moulton Answers Your Cooking Questions

If your roast was dry roasted and you want to make it seem more tender (it won't actually be but you can fool people), slice it as thin as you can, thinner slices of meat are not that tough. Another trick is to combine it with some kind of "sauce" so lather up that mustard and mayo on the sandwich or chop up the meat and combine it with one of those condiments, or toss it with vinaigrette, or combine it with gravy and make a hot roast beef sandwich.

Shelley Sorani: I have two questions: how do you keep food from sticking to the bottom of the pan? I have fair success with cooking beef, lamb or veal on a very hot pan but fish and chicken, both delicate, are a problem. And potatoes roasting in the oven is another. Question #2, what's the best way to bread or coat anything to keep the breading, cracker crumbs, panko or anything else on when sauteeing, pan frying, roasting, etc.?

Sara's Answer:

Shelley,

Chicken and fish just do tend to stick more easily. I have several suggestions to combat that problem 1. If it seems appropriate to the recipe, lightly dust them in flour before you sauté them. 2. Make sure you don't attempt to flip the fish or chicken pieces before they are ready – how do you know they are ready? Give them a tiny nudge with a spatula to see if they are still sticking to the bottom of the pan or if they glide a bit, and if they are loosened, then go ahead and flip them. It is like steak or hamburgers, if you try to flip them before they have seared, they will stick to the bottom of the pan. It is not as obvious to see that sear on fish and chicken. This same principle applies to potatoes. Do not touch them until you see they have developed a crust on the bottom side. 3.Also make sure that the potatoes fish or chicken are very dry (not as important if you are dipping them in flour first) before you put them in the pan. Also make sure there is a light film of oil in the pan and that the pan is plenty hot (but not smoking). Finally, use the right pan. I am not a fan of nonstick so I use stick resistant pans that are non toxic. I discovered them when I was on book tour – Chantal Copper Fusion.

Regarding how to keep crumbs on an item you are about to cook, think about using the right glue. A foolproof method is something called the standard breading procedure – flour, beaten egg with a little water, and then crumbs. If you dip your item first in flour, shaking off the excess, then in egg and finally in crumbs, the crumbs will adhere. When I put a batter on something (my favorite batter is beer batter) I dip the item in flour first and then shake off the excess before dipping it in the batter. When I want crumbs to stick to a roast I make a glue out of mayonnaise and mustard or plain mustard.

Barb Bahn: Can I freeze leftover meatloaf in individual servings in plastic baggies?

Sara's Answer:

Barb,

I don't see why not, just make sure you wrap the slices well before you put them in the baggies, the enemy of frozen food is freezer burn – what that means is if an item is not well wrapped before it goes into the freezer it will lose moisture and pick up off flavors.

Deborah Landsiedel: Sara, I struggle with 2 recipes. Calzone-I always seem to end up with too much dough, or the filling lacks flavor. Do you have a good recipe? Also, Riccotta Cheese pizza- blah flavor...what's the secret? An additional fan's note: I cherish my Julia Child's cookbook that has a picture of the kitchen staff with you in it. I miss your shows but have all your books. Take care...See you on the show.

Sara's Answer:

Deborah,

I will answer your two questions at once. Here is a recipe for Spinach and Ricotta Calzones and Food Processor Pizza Dough.

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