Photo of a bowl of all kinds of vegetable scraps

Be a Nothing Goes to Waste Cook

As the scrap heap from chopping vegetables was growing, Kingfisher Bar & Grill Chef/Owner Jim “Murph” Murphy tells the class with a chuckle, “We’re not going to throw that away – I don’t throw anything away.”

The onion, bell pepper and celery remnants from the good stuff going into the Crawfish Étouffée were stored away with Chef sharing how he’d use what most of us probably toss in the garbage.

His words are the norm in professional kitchens – nothing goes to waste. I’ve sure had my fair share of “yikes, the price has gone up again” moments lately and I’m sure you have, too.

In the spirit of refreshing and repurposing food, and saving money, here are some thoughts on culinary thrift.

Render fat from meat scraps. Don’t toss the bits of fat and skin trimmed from whole birds, stew meat and roasts. Render it and use as a savory and flavorful alternative to butter and oil for frying eggs, roasting potatoes or sautéing greens. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Low-cost broth. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base costs less than liquid broths. Plus, it keeps more than a year in the refrigerator.

Use less wrappings. Cover food in the microwave with a plate instead of plastic or paper towels. Use a pot lid, unused shower cap or plate to cover a bowl of rising dough. Unless ripped or messy, reuse foil, sealable bags and parchment paper; they can be wiped clean.

Wake up wilted produce. Soak any leafy greens in cold water for 30 minutes. Trim stalks or stems of asparagus, broccoli, celery, scallions, herbs on the bias to expose water-loving capillaries and stand in a container filled with cold water for 1 hour.

Waxed paper instead of parchment. About a quarter of the cost of parchment, use it to wrap sandwiches, separate meat patties, stop a rolling pin from sticking to dough. It can’t withstand high heat, so no baking with it.

Up the veggie yield. Asparagus: Get 50% more when trimming 1 inch from the base and peeling off the woody lower half of stalks instead of snapping off the ends. Cabbage and cauliflower cores: For use in soups and stews, slice or chop cores and cook with leaves or florets. Leeks: Cut diagonally from the point where the leaves start to darken to the middle of the green portion. Look inside to determine where light turns dark. Repeat twice to create a pointed shape with the pale leaves. Mushroom stems: Button, cremini and portobello mushroom stems are usable after trimming off the base.

Re-crisp stale crackers, chips, cookies. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and heat on middle rack in a 225°F oven for 15-25 minutes or until crisp. For graham crackers and large cookies, place on a wire rack placed in baking sheet.

Leftovers. Resist the urge to use the microwave to reheat soups or stews. Pizza: Place directly on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with foil, set on bottom rack of cold oven. Heat oven to 275°F; cook 25 minutes. Fried chicken: Sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes. Place pieces on a wire rack placed in a rimmed baking sheet. Heat in 275°F oven 14-18 minutes for breasts and 8-12 minutes for legs and thigs. Internal temperature should be 120°F. Steak: Place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet in a 250°F oven for 30 minutes for 1 ½-inch thick meat. Internal temperature should be 130°F. Turkey: Wrap pieces or slices in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet in a 275°F oven for 35-45 minutes until internal temperature is 130°F. Re-crisp skin by searing skin side down in a skillet coated with oil over medium-high heat until crispy.

Carne asada is usually a noun, but on October 11, Felipe Garcia, foodie, cook, blogger and president/CEO of Visit Tucson, will teach you it’s also a verb – the experience of bringing people together, storytelling, cooking and the sights and smells of meat grilling, chiles and tomatoes charring for salsa and tortillas warming. You’ll make it three ways: Taco, Lorenza and Caramelo.

Want to cook and talk football with two UArizona legends? You can on October 20 with Coach Ricky and LaMonte Hunley in their Cooking with the Wildcats class. On the menu: Lemon and Wine Marinated Baked Salmon; Bok Choy Salad with Strawberry, Pear, Apple, Jalapeño and Sesame Seeds; Sautéed Spinach; and Key Lime Pie.

Biscotti is the perfect cookie for dunking in coffee, tea or wine. A staple of Italian kitchens for generations, on October 22, join Certified Executive Chef and Slow Food Southern Arizona President Barry Infuso for a fun morning preparing this twice-baked treat. You’ll leave with ready-to-bake dough that’ll yield about 10 dozen cookies.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,


Photo of a plate of chicken schnitzel, arugula and lemon wedges
Chicken Schnitzel
Yield: 4-6 servings

½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups grocery store plain dried breadcrumbs
4 6-8 oz. boneless, skinless chick breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons kosher salt (½ teaspoon per cutlet if using Morton Kosher Salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable oil
Lemon wedges

1. Spread flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs and 1 tablespoon oil in second shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in third shallow dish. Set wire rack in rimmed back sheet. Line second rimmed baking sheet with double layer of paper towels. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200°F.
2. Halve chicken breasts horizontally making 8 cutlets of even thickness. Place 1 cutlet between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to ¼-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Sprinkle both sides with ¾ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
3. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into dish to ensure very thin coating. Coat evenly with breadcrumbs, pressing on crumbs to adhere. Place cutlets on wire rack, taking care not to overlap them. Dry 5 minutes.
4. Add 2 cups oil to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to 350°F. Lay 2-3 cutlets, depending on size, in oil, without overlapping and cook, shaking pot continuously and gently, until cutlets are wrinkled and light golden brown on both sides, 1-1 ½ minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to paper towel-lined sheet, flip to blot excess oil and transfer sheet to oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Apple-Fennel Rémoulade
Yield: 6-8 servings

¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, plus 1 tablespoon brine
4 celery ribs, sliced thin on bias
1 fennel bulb, 1 tablespoon fronds, minced; stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and sliced thin crosswise
1 Fuji or Gala apple, cored and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Whisk mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and caper brine together in large bowl. Add celery, fennel bulb, apple and capers, tossing to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with fennel fronds and serve.

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