Executive Chef Henrico Grobbelaar of the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers has learned many helpful things during his years in the kitchen. Here he shares some of his tips – simple but practical ideas to make your life in the kitchen a lot easier:

Working with meat

  • When you want to make hamburgers for supper but don’t have much time, use boerewors instead.  Remove the casing from the sausages and shape the boerewors meat into patties.  You don’t have to add any spices because they’re already there.  Just heat them up and you’ll have a delicious – and easy – meal.
  • When defrosting meat, place the meat on an aluminium sheet tray.  Aluminium is a conductor of heat, so it will draw energy into the meat quicker than would happen with a wooden cutting board, a plastic bowl or a wood or marble countertop.  You’ll cut the time for defrosting down by at least 30 percent.
  • If there’s no time to brine a whole chicken, you’ll get a similar effect in about an hour with this trick: sprinkle plenty of salt inside the bird, and then cover the skin with salt granules.  Press the salt down onto the skin. After an hour, pat the chicken dry and roast it. 

Herbs

  • Salad greens, like lettuce, and herbs tend to go off quickly.  Wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel and insert that into a re-sealable plastic bag.  You’ll have perfectly fresh greens throughout the week.
  • Throw a bit of salt onto the chopping board when you chop up herbs.  It will prevent the herbs from moving around.

Vegetables

  • When boiling vegetables, plunge them into ice water after blanching them.  This will stop the cooking process and the veggies will retain their crispness and colour.
  • If you planned to soak chickpeas overnight but forgot to do so, put them into water with some bicarbonate of soda.  This makes the water more alkaline, allowing the water to penetrate the chickpeas quicker.
  • Never put salt into the water when boiling pulses (black beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, sugar beans).  It makes them hard.
  • When cooking cauliflower, add a little milk and salt to the water.  Once you’ve blanched it, shock the cauliflower in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Rinse off the milk.  You will have bright white cauliflower.
  • For salad dressing that’s creamy but healthy, substitute half the mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt.

Spices

  • Hate the smell of garlic on your hands? After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on a stainless steel sink for 30 seconds and then wash them.  No more stink of garlic!
  • Rub your hands with vegetable oil before chopping chillies.  This will prevent your skin from absorbing the hot, spicy oils in the chilli.
  • Bring ginger root into your kitchen.  It’s an incredibly versatile spice that isn’t widely known.  Freeze the root, and then peel it with the side of a spoon, rather than a knife.  You’ll find it easier, and you’ll waste less of this lovely spice.