Celebrity Masterchef: Some Snack-Sized Tips
One of the most enjoyable reality shows doing the rounds at the moment, Celebrity Masterchef Ireland has it all: competition, cooking and lovable Irish celebrities you didn’t know you missed (Welcome back, Samantha Mumba!). Cooking is easier in theory, and TV contests are even easier from the armchair, so we’ve devised some kitchen tips that the celebs on Masterchef could’ve used in the first couple of episodes.
Let’s start withcaramel, which contestants struggled to make from scratch in episode one…
- Medium heat
Heat the sugar at a moderate temperature; you want to resist the urge to increase the heat, because– as we saw in week 1 – that can cause the caramel to burn.
- Use a candy thermometer for accuracy
Judging the right stage of when caramel is ready can be tricky for beginners, so the best way to guarantee perfect caramel is to use a candy thermometer. These are inexpensive and handy gadgets that can be picked up from any kitchen supply store.
- To stir, or not to stir?
It’s best not to stir the caramel at all – just give the pan a gentle swirl to redistribute the caramel so that it cooks evenly. You want to make sure there are not spots that are darker than others.
We’re not sure if Oisin McConville was right to stab the raw steak like he should have (it’s already dead, Oisin!), but here are some steak tips we do recommend…
- Start at room temperature
Leave the steaks to sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cooking. This will ensure they cook evenly once in the pan.
- Hot and heavy
Use a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat to ensure a good brown crust on the steak. You should be able to hold your hand over the pan for just about one second when it’s at the right temperature.
Season the steak simply: sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brush lightly with oil. You can certainly add other seasonings to the steak now, but our recommendation is to follow the K.I.S.S. method (keep it simple, stupid!).
These little guys proved a challenge for some celebs in episode two. So how should you engage in (ahem) shellfish behaviour?
- Dry it out
The trick to cooking scallops is to get a dark, crispy exterior. Start off by removing any excess moisture from the scallops. The best way to do this is to pat them dry with clean kitchen paper.
- Salt away
Salting the scallops achieves two goals: it adds flavour, and helps to remove even more moisture. Simply salt the scallops and let them rest on a plate lined with kitchen paper for about 15 minutes before cooking.
- Don’t move!
Resist the urge to move the scallops around in the pan. They won’t form that gorgeous, brown crust if you keep nudging them around, so let them cook for a few minutes until you can see a deep golden crust. Only once the crust is ready should you flip and cook until just seared on the other side.
Recreating fast food in a healthy way is en vogue, and they tackled it in episode two. But what’s the best way to make this “fake-away”?
- Go for a high fat content
Lean beef mince won’t give you the juicy, flavoursome burger you want – you’re more likely to end up with burgers that are dry and tough. Go with at least a 20% fat content.
- Hands off!
For tender burgers, handle the meat as little as possible. The amount the meat is handled directly affects the texture of the burger, so when forming the patties, handle the meat as little as possible.
- Make an indent
Make a shallow indentation in the burger for round, even burgers. This keeps the centre from bulging as it cooks, so the burger stays flat, even and round.
Catch up with all the episodes from Celebrity Masterchef so far on the 3player and tune into new episodes on Mondays at 10pm on TV3.
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