Al Dente Vegetables? Not on HG’s Watch!

April 6th, 2013 § 2 comments

There seems to be a prevalent belief among American professional chefs and home cooks that vegetables should be cooked al dente — just a shade softer than raw. The technique (fostered by the late Julia Child): Blanch vegetables in boiling water. Remove. Stop the cooking by rinsing in ice water. Saute briefly. Serve. HG disagrees. Like our neighbors in the Southern states, HG likes soft vegetables cooked into creamy goodness. (There is an exception. BSK cooks a very al dente broccoli di rabe with lots of garlic and red chili. It’s good. Would be better if she left it in the pan for another ten minutes). HG likes the well done haricot verts in Paris (and the glazed carrots served in bistros with some beef stews). Italians, who can be immoderate in politics, choose a middle way in cuisine. They don’t like things too hot or too cold. And they like–as is proper–vegetables cooked beyond the al dente stage. HG has very few cooked vegetable allies. But, an outstanding advocate of slow and long vegetable cooking is Lesley Porcelli (a woman of Italian lineage, of course). You can find an excellent article by her in the October 2011 issue of Saveur Magazine. Take a peek at her recipes: Slow-coked broccoli di rabe with crushed red chiles and garlic; olive oil braised mixed vegetables; Indian- style carrots with mustard seeds; braised celery and tomatoes; Lebanese-style green beans with chick peas in olive oil. All savory and full of lush flavors.

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§ 2 Responses to Al Dente Vegetables? Not on HG’s Watch!"

  • Ann Dermansky says:

    Just found your terrific blog. Re your taste in vegetables: There’s a new barbecue restaurant in Bergenfield, NJ you’d like: the best smokey spare ribs and long-cooked sides like bourbon-glazed root vegetables.

    Had no idea you were living in Santa Fe. VIsited my brother Frank Ettenberg there in November and would have loved to see you. He’s an artist whose work is at Kristin Johnson Fine Arts, Palace Ave. There’s a big opening 5/10 which I’ll try to get to.

    Remember you and Gerald Freeman Public Relations with pleasure and gratitude. You once took me out for lunch (Chendu?) and introduced me to moo shu shrimp. I’m smiling now, thinking of that time. I send love etc.

    • Gerry says:

      How wonderful to hear from you. You were (and obviously still are) a talented and lovely person. Give me a call if you make it to Santa Fe. A big hug to you.

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