It is usually impractical to cook vegetables completely to order. Too much time is required. But if the vegetables have been partially cooked, the time needed to finish them to order is short.
Partially cooking, chilling, and finish-cooking is not as good, nutritionally, as cooking completely to order, but it is almost as good. It's certainly better than holding vegetables for hours at serving temperature, and it gives the cook complete control over the degree of doneness when served.
Procedure for Blanching and Chilling
1. Steam or simmer the vegetable until partially cooked to desired degree. (In the case of French fries, blanch by deep-frying.)
The amount of cooking required depends on the vegetable and on the method by which it will be reheated or finished. Frozen vegetables need less cooking than fresh. Often, they need only be thawed.
2. Chill immediately in ice water. (Needless to say, French fries are an exception.)
3. Drain and keep chilled until needed.
4. Finish to order by desired cooking method.
For example, one or more portions can be placed in a strainer and lowered briefly into a ready pot of boiling water.
Sauteing in butter is a popular method for finishing such items as peas, green beans, and carrots. Potato croquettes are an example of a more complicated application of this same method. The potatoes are boiled or steamed, pureed, seasoned, formed, and breaded in advance. They are then deep-fried to order.
Procedure for Batch Cooking_
1. Steamers and small tilting trunnion kettles behind the service line are the most useful kinds of equipment for vegetable batch cooking.
2. Divide each vegetable into batches small enough to be served within 20 to 30 minutes. Arrange in steamer pans ready to be placed in steamers or in containers ready for pouring into the kettles.
3. Keep the prepped vegetables in the cooler until needed.
4. Cook batches as needed. In planning, allow time for loading and unloading the equipment, for cooking, for finishing the product with the desired seasoning, sauce, or garnish, and for carrying to the serving line.
5. Undercook slightly if the vegetable must be held before serving.
6. Have all your seasonings, sauces, and garnishes ready for finishing the dish.
7. Do not mix batches. They will be cooked to different degrees, and colors and textures usually will not match.
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