Beef drippings are flavor booster

WHAT'S COOKING?

August 31, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Q: After browning hamburger or making a roast of meat, I pour off the fat into a bowl and refrigerate it. Later when I scoop out the coagulated fat, there is a gelatin which I assume is the meat juice. Is this gelatin good for anything besides enriching a gravy?

A: You are correct in assuming that the flavorful gelatin is the meat juice plus the added protein from the cooked meat, which causes it to congeal when cold.

Aside from enriching gravy, use this flavorful stock for soups, as a sauce flavoring, as a fortifier for pasta sauces or even to spice up tomato or vegetable juice. This gelatin keeps best in the freezer.

Q: If I have leftover plain pasta, how long can I keep it in the refrigerator?

A: Leftover pasta, without sauce, can be kept in the refrigerator for two days before its texture will change. Some cooks recommend rinsing it in cool water to remove the pasty starch that develops over time.

Q: Can you please tell me what the fold on vanilla means? I am confused about which label to purchase for maximum strength.

A: For the answer to this question, I called Nielson-Massey a company that produces a very high quality vanilla. General manager Chuck Brandel explained that fold is the name applied to the strength of vanilla as a standard of regulation set up by the United States government. A single fold is defined as the minimum amount of vanilla bean (which is 13.35 ounces) required in a gallon of liquid and this liquid must be at least 35 percent ethyl, or grain, alcohol.

For a two-fold vanilla the amount of vanilla must be increased to 26.7 ounces per gallon of liquid. Single-fold vanilla is usually the strength we buy in the store for home use, but you may find a higher strength in specialty stores or mail order catalogs. Commercial grades for manufacturing can go as high as 25 folds.

We'd like to hear from you. Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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