“CHARLES SHAW WINE USED TO BE GREAT — AND NOBODY DRANK IT. NOW, IT’S TERRIBLE AND IT’S SELLING LIKE GANGBUSTERS.”
“I TRIED TO PUT IT ALL BEHIND ME BUT I NEVER STOPPED THINKING ABOUT WINE.”
“CHARLES SHAW WINE USED TO BE GREAT — AND NOBODY DRANK IT. NOW, IT’S TERRIBLE AND IT’S SELLING LIKE GANGBUSTERS.”
“I TRIED TO PUT IT ALL BEHIND ME BUT I NEVER STOPPED THINKING ABOUT WINE.”
The rump cap cut features heavily in Brazilian cooking, where it is known as the Picanha. With a decent amount of fat coverage to keep it moist, the rump cap is perfect for barbecues and roasting. Today’s recipe will be focusing on the latter, as we’ll be creating a heavenly roast that packs plenty of punch in the flavor department…
For the filling:
For the sauce:
1. Remove the fat and sinew from the rump cap and sear it on both sides in a pan containing vegetable oil. After removing it from the pan, leave it to cool for a short while.
2. Use a sharp knife to cut off a thin slice from the larger side of the rump cap. Next, cut a deep pocket into the meat as in the image below.
3. Now carefully roll the pocket inside out, making sure the rump cap doesn’t get torn in the process.
4. Chop up the onions, peppers, and bacon and fry them in a pan. Transfer the contents of the pan into a bowl containing diced mozzarella and stir everything together with the oregano.
Add the filling to the meat. Close the pocket with cocktail sticks and rub the paprika, coarse salt, and pepper onto both sides of the meat.
5. Place the rump cap in an oven set to 390°F with the top and bottom heat on for 35 minutes. Afterward, leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
For the sauce, reduce the red wine and add the plum jelly, a pinch of salt, and some cayenne pepper. Leave the sauce to cook for five more minutes.
It’s surprising to see that this sumptuous cut of meat is fairly unknown in everyday cooking. That’s why it’s down to you to spread the word by preparing this hearty roast for all your friends and family!
This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.
I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top. It was yummy and very easy. It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie. You have to happy when you cook.
225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour
255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour
255 g/1 cup warm water
2 tsp salt
1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.
You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.
2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick
3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.
4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.
5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen. Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.
6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes. Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.
The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!
Raw, fried, creamed, or stuffed: There are so many ways to heart artichokes.
Though scraping the meat off of an artichoke leaf is both cathartic and delicious (particularly when said leaf has been doused in melted butter), there are so many more ways to eat this tasty thistle. You could stuff the insides with potatoes. You could make a warm, cheesy dip. You could even throw the hearts into a bread pudding. This spring, we vote for trying it all.
Since it’s peak season for artichokes, we asked chefs across the country about their favorite ways to eat ‘em. Here’s what they had to say:
“Artichokes are snacks for me, so I like to blanch the whole entire thing without cleaning them till they’re nice and soft. Then pick the leaves and dip them in Kewpie mayo. The snacky thing where I get to eat with my hands, like pistachios, is something that I love to do.”
“I like to shave artichokes raw into a salad or fry them in a little olive oil to make crispy chips.”
“I love cooking artichokes using a technique that Paul Kahan told me about, ‘sott’olio’, which is an Italian technique of holding vegetables in oil. The way I like to cook the artichokes is completely cleaning them of tough outer leaves and woody parts, then gently simmer in a very acidic court bouillon, then to finish, ‘shock’ them in cold oil. They are best after they hang out in the fridge in the cold oil for a few days.”
“I love grilled artichokes on a wood fire with a garlicky aioli.”
“Depending on size, for larger globe artichokes I like a traditional barigould (white wine, lemon, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil), for young tender artichokes I like to just split them, dust them with seasoned flour and fry them. Served with a simple dipping sauce like remoulade, they’re a perfect, light spring treat.”
“I like artichokes raw in a salad. I’ve also done a “Blooming Artichoke” dish where we fry it like a Blooming Onion.”
“If I am cooking at home, I like to simply boil the artichokes in chicken stock and lemon. I like to peel off the leaves dip it in melted butter and scrape the meat off of the outer leaves with my teeth.”
“For chokes, I cut in half and then poach in an aromatic broth. Once cooked, I pull out the choke and brush with olive oil and then place on the wood grill. After cooked, simply serve with any spicy aioli or mayo for dipping leaves and eating the heart.”
The freezer is truly the best meal prep assistant you have.
Freezing entire pre-made meals is a time-honored tradition, stretching back as long as busy cooks have been in a crunch to put homemade meals on the table AKA, since the dawn of freezer technology.
Using your freezer as a kitchen assistant will not only bring some peace of mind to your meal prep but will help foster healthier eating habits by making nutritious, homemade meals readily available during times you’re tempted to swing through the drive-thru for an easy dinner option.
Whether you’re freezing prepared meals for convenience, time, or the health benefits, these tips will help you get the most flavor and quality out of your reheated pre-prepped dishes and ingredients.
When embarking on your meal prep experience, pick a dedicated day of the week to hunker down in the kitchen and spend some quality time preparing your dishes to be frozen and consumed later. Whether it’s a lazy weekend afternoon or a free weekday evening, by committing a chunk of time to putting together your make-ahead dishes you’ll have plenty of options ready to go when you’re in need of a quick, easy meal.
Not all ingredients are created equal when it comes to freezing, and certain foods won’t fare as well once thawed. Some cream-based products like half-and-half, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and ricotta are less likely to be a success when reheated, as separation naturally occurs during freezing, resulting in a grainy texture once it’s thawed and cooked.
Raw potatoes shouldn’t be frozen, as they will oxidize and turn black, and leafy greens and lettuces will be unsuccessful in the freezer if frozen raw due to their high water content. Instead, these ingredients should be pre-cooked and incorporated into a dish before heading to the freezer.
Ingredients that are meant to add extra texture to a dish, such as a crumble topping, crushed nuts, or fried onions, should always be added after the dish is thawed. Freezing them with the dish will result in a soggy texture, rendering the crunchy addition pointless.
Before slipping your dish into the freezer, it’s essential to allow pre-cooked foods to cool, as placing a piping-hot dish in your icebox will lower the overall freezer temperature, which could result in foods around it thawing and spoiling. If you’re in a rush, rather than using the refrigerator to cool dishes down quickly which will lead to the same issue, give them an ice bath in the sink. For this technique, fill your sink with a shallow layer of water and ice, and lower your hot dishes into it for a few minutes, making sure the water only comes halfway up the sides of your dish.
While your dishes are cooling, make sure your freezer temperature is set low enough, as all prepared foods should be stored in a freezer that is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
As a rule, when freezing food you want the containers to be as airtight as possible. Individually-sized meals should be frozen in airtight lidded plastic containers to limit the amount of outside oxygen flowing into the dish. It’s wise to double-wrap your plastic containers in a layer of freezer-proof plastic wrap if you’re planning on storing the dish for more than a week.
When storing larger dishes and casseroles, make sure to thoroughly wrap the entire container to limit the oxygen flow. Start by completely covering the top of the dish with freezer-proof foil, and then wrap the entirety of the dish in plastic wrap. Depending on the length of time you’re planning on storing, adding a second layer of plastic wrap will result in fresher flavors with no risk of freezer burn.
When freezing casseroles, it’s always best to opt for a shallow casserole dish, which will make for a faster-reheating process, as well as better distribution of heat through the entire dish.
All frozen foods should be marked with the name of the meal, the date it was prepared, and detailed instructions for reheating before being stowed away. This will ensure the food is eaten within a safe time period, and that other family members will be able to reheat the dish properly if you’re not around to lend a hand.
When freezing prepared meats, vegetables, grains, and pasta, it’s wise to slightly undercook to just tender before freezing. Each of these ingredients will cook slightly more when reheated, so they can easily become overcooked if stored well-done. For tips on how to freeze and reheat premade soups and stews, check out our guide here.
The size of the dishes you’re freezing will be flexible depending on your personal needs. If you’re prepping food for a whole family, large format meals like casseroles will work in your favor. However, if you’re looking for easy lunches or solo dinners, meal prepping individual portions is a great option.
For individual meals, freezing fundamental pre-cooked ingredients like brown rice, pasta, proteins, and cooked vegetables can make for easy lunches and individually portioned dinners down the line. These ingredients can be stored in separate containers and combined after the reheating process, or portioned out into smaller servings for easy access and portability. These ingredients will keep well in airtight freezer bags or plastic containers, which can be stacked for easy storage.
Casseroles make for the ultimate pre-made, family-sized frozen meal, as most will keep well in the freezer for up to 2 months, and are easy to prep and reheat. Plus, most casseroles can be frozen and stored before or after they’ve been baked.
If you’d prefer to not freeze your casserole in the dish putting that kitchen tool out of use until the dish has been reheated another option is to flash freeze your casserole before removing from the pan and storing separately. To do so, prior to preparing the casserole, line the casserole dish with a layer of aluminum foil and plastic wrap that hangs over the edges. Prepare your casserole and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Then, use the excess plastic wrap to pull the frozen dish out of the pan, and wrap the dish thoroughly in freezer-proof plastic. When you’re ready to reheat, unwrap the food and place it back in the pan for reheating in the oven. Another option is to stock up on inexpensive disposable foil pans that can easily be tossed after use.
In order to make sure your food is as safe as possible for consumption, food should always be thawed in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. Once initially thawed, foods shouldn’t be refrozen, unless they’re completely cooked before heading back into the freezer.
For those in a rush, the microwave can be an easy method of thawing and reheating (if the portion size is right). If using a microwave or high-capacity toaster oven it’s wise to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the center of the dish from time-to-time to guarantee it’s reached a safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to safely thaw a prepped casserole, transfer the dish to the fridge for 24 hours before cooking. Then, cook the casserole at the same temperature as the recipe originally called for, adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the time and checking the temperature of the dish occasionally.
When reheating a pre-cooked casserole, you can go directly from freezer to oven. Cook the dish at the same temperature you would if cooking it fresh but give the dish an extra 20 minutes, checking the progress of the dish intermittently to make sure it’s heating properly, but not overcooking.
When reheating a casserole dish in the oven, leave the foil layer in place, folding back the corner or cutting a few slits in the top to allow steam to release from the dish. Rotate the dish occasionally during reheating to allow for even reheating.
Once you’ve gotten into the freezing groove, your meal prep is all but guaranteed to be a breeze even on your busiest of days.
Chicken is an extremely versatile and popular type of protein, and Americans consume about 92 pounds of it a year. But despite its popularity, people still struggle with basic cooking techniques. Whether you prefer boneless skinless breasts, bone-in skin-on parts, or even the whole bird, the challenge is the same. How do you cook it evenly, lock in flavor, and keep it juicy and moist? And if you’re a skin lover how do you get the skin perfectly crisp?
No two parts of the bird are the same, and I’m sure you’ve found yourself overwhelmed in the meat aisle at your grocery store wondering which part is best. But don’t panic! We’re breaking it down and dishing out all the tips and tricks to help you cook chicken like a pro.
Few dishes are as quintessentially comforting as a whole roasted chicken. The aroma alone screams Sunday supper! And while you only need a few simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and perhaps some fresh garlic and herbs, the trick to a perfectly roasted chicken is all in the technique. Additionally, buying and roasting a whole chicken is really affordable, and leftovers make a perfect second meal. Of course, you can default to a rotisserie chicken, but mastering the art of roasting a whole chicken is a lot easier than you may think.
Tip #1: Dry = Crispy
Start with a 4-5 pound broiling or frying chicken. Dry the chicken well (inside and out) with paper towels. For best results, open it from the package in the morning or even the night before and leave it on a rack in a roasting pan uncovered in the fridge.
Tip #2: Salt is essential
Season generously all over (inside and out) with salt and pepper. A good rule of thumb is about 1 Tablespoon salt for an average 4-5 pound bird, and I prefer a Kosher-style salt, like Diamond. Plus the salt acts as a brine and will keep the chicken very moist.
Tip #3: Season beyond salt
If you are seasoning it with more than salt and pepper, combine your spice mixture (I love the simplicity of freshly minced garlic and a mix of herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme) in a bowl, then rub all over. Again, don’t forget about the inside of the bird! Feel free to season in advance to boost flavor.
Tip#4: Don’t forget the cavity
To add some extra moisture and flavor, cut a lemon, onion, or even an apple in chunks and place in the cavity along with a sprig or two of herbs/bay leaves. As the chicken roasts, these aromatics will release moisture and flavor — just remember to remove before carving.
Tip #5: Truss and tuck
Truss (tie) the legs and tuck the wings. Not only does this make for a prettier presentation, but it also helps keep the breasts from drying out while cooking.
Tip #6: To baste or not to baste?
There are some people who love to dot their chicken with butter or brush it with oil before cooking, and then baste while it’s roasting. However, if you like the skin crispy, I’d advise against this since brushing and basting tends to reduce the crispiness factor. Every time you open the oven, the temperature drops, so it’s best to keep the chicken at an even temperature and let the oven do the work.
Tip #6: Slow and steady
I’m a fan of 350º F all the way unless you’re in a hurry. On average, you’ll want to cook your chicken about 15 -20 minutes per pound to keep the white meat moist and ensure the dark meat is cooked through.
Tip #7: Roasting pan, sheet pan, and more
A traditional roasting pan that you line with a rack is sufficient since it will keep the bird elevated and allow the bottom to crisp. However, a shallow sheet pan will also allow the sides to crisp up more. I’m also a fan of roasting the chicken in a large cast iron skillet, which retains heat very well.
Tip #8: Check for doneness
Don’t poke your chicken too often while it’s cooking. Instead, set your timer for the estimated time, then insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone). If it registers 165º F, it’s good to go. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh (also avoiding the bone), and if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready.
Tip #9: Be patient and let it rest
Don’t rush to carve that chicken right after you’ve taken it out of the oven. Not only is it too hot to handle, but letting it rest for about 15 minutes will allow the juices time to redistribute.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perhaps one of the hardest working proteins around. They’re high in protein, low in fat, and cook relatively quickly. But perhaps the best part about this cut of chicken is its versatility since chicken breasts can be marinated, grilled, pan seared, sautéed, roasted, sliced and diced for simple stir-fries, threaded onto kabobs, or even shallow fried as cutlets when stuffed or pounded.
Despite their popularity, chicken breasts can be challenging to cook — especially when there is a significant difference between the thick and thin part. And unfortunately, it’s easy for this cut to become tough and rubbery when overcooked. But with these basic tips, you’ll be well on your way to moist and delicious chicken breasts in no time.
Tip #1: Smaller is best
Look for smaller size breasts, if possible, 6-7 oz is best. If you end up with ones that are extra large (between 8-12 oz), cut them in half horizontally for more even cooking, pound them out for cutlets, or slice and dice ‘em into small chunks for stir-fries.
Tip #2: Pat dry
Always make sure you pat the chicken with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. If you’ve marinated chicken, make sure the marinade is shaken off and chicken is dry. Most marinades have salt so you can skip salting if you’re starting with a marinated chicken breast.
Tip #3: Don’t overcrowd
Start with a wide frying/sauté pan that helps keep splattering to a minimum (nonstick is okay but not essential). If you crowd the pan, the breasts won’t brown as nicely and leave enough room for turning. Consider if you’re going to be adding other ingredients like veggies or pasta.
Tip #3: Choose cooking fats wisely
Heat about two teaspoons of oil (regular olive oil is fine, but extra-virgin is not the best choice here due to its low smoke point). I like adding a knob (tablespoon) of butter at the end, which adds a nice flavor and color. In most cases, medium-high heat is best and will create a good sear. However, if it’s getting dark too quickly, you’ll want to adjust your heat slightly.
Tip #4: Leave it alone
If you want a nice sear, try not to move the chicken for about 5-7 minutes once in the pan. If the chicken is sticking, it’s probably not ready and won’t be golden brown. Try to avoid over-flipping. Turn it once and don’t touch again for an additional 5-7 minutes. Again, the goal is golden brown color on each side.
Tip #5: Be patient and let it rest
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving to allow for carry-over cooking and time for juices to redistribute. You’ll want to look for an internal temperature of 165°F, but if you don’t have a thermometer, pay attention to the following: Has the chicken shrunk while cooking? Is it somewhat firm to the touch? If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small cut into the thickest part and check that the juices run clear and flesh is no longer pink.
Chicken legs, thighs, and wings are known as dark meat. These parts are naturally fattier than chicken breast, but also get fat and flavor from the skin. Some people prefer the dark meat because it tends to be more flavorful, but it will take a little longer to cook.
Bone-in, skin-on pieces (even breasts) are best for longer braises, deep-frying, and roasting. They are great marinated and grilled, and certainly less expensive than boneless.
Boneless chicken thighs have a lot of flavor and are just as versatile as the breast. They’re perfect for dicing in stir-fries or quick tacos and take to marinades very well. They can be pan seared and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking, roasted the entire way through, grilled, or lightly breaded and shallow fried. They work well in dishes like chicken chili’s, pot pies, and braises. Just like all poultry, you’ll want to get the internal temp to 165ºF.
Tip #1: Pat dry
Just like the whole chicken and breast, you want to pat the dark meat pieces dry with paper towel. This helps to avoid splatter and increase crisp.
Tip #2: Render the fat
Melting and clarifying animal fat (aka rendering) helps to tenderize the connective tissues. Roasting at high heat or slow braising are the best techniques for this. It’s best to sear in a hot pan first to render excess fat and add flavor. Next, transfer to an oven or add sauce/wine/veggies to the pan and let simmer while chicken cooks.
Eat and enjoy!
I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals. My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine. They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife. We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home. I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations! And, you what! It worked.
According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen
They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.
According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)
And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.
The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.
Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t yet jumped into the depths of all of the great seasonal produce, we’re thrilled to let you know some great ways to enjoy it all. These bite-sized spring appetizers are perfect for that backyard party you’ve been waiting to have all winter. Check out the roundup of our ten favorites that have truly given us Spring Fever.
One word: radishes. It simply wouldn’t be spring without a heaping helping of radishes on our plates and of course, in our appetizers. These crostini bites pair radishes, brie, and arugula leaves on toast for a crunchy and bright flavor experience.
You know it’s spring when suddenly carrots are everywhere. Easter is this Sunday (can you believe it?) and a tart like this makes for a perfect pick-me-up before dinner is served. Serve up a hearty and clean appetizer like this that fits in all of the festive carrot flavors of the season on one pan. Using rainbow carrots is a great tip that incorporates all different kinds of colors into this festive spring tart.
What kind of meal would it be without deviled eggs around Easter? Keep in mind that deviled eggs (or any recipe requiring hard-cooked eggs) are great.
Turns out you can get the fabulous flavors of takeout from your very own kitchen with these awesome pot stickers. The extra crispy-ness of this classic takeout item is enough in itself, but when you factor in all of the homemade goodness packed inside, they become out-of-this-world good.
While these empanadas are a little heartier than the average appetizer and can definitely be served as an entree if desired, their fun hand-sized nature makes them a great grab-and-go food for backyard parties or get-togethers. Not only are they a delicious golden-brown, but they’re chock full of great spring veggies.
It’s true, blackberries reach their prime in the summer months, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to snag some blackberries from your local market right now, they go wonderfully with brie on these golden-brown personal sized pizzas. Not only do these colorful appetizer pizzas bring out even more of that Spring Fever, but they’ll get you all excited for the vast array of yummy produce still to come in the summer months.
All of the iconic flavors of this southern stew come together in perfect bite-sized portions with these tarts. Shrimp, okra, and polenta rounds pair perfectly in one bite and would make a great accompaniment to this warm spring weather.
These bright and colorful crostini appetizers are reminiscent of spring with their bright green colors and fresh flavor. Appetizers like this are a great way to combine multiple seasonal flavors in one bite. Fava beans get the spotlight here, but the goat cheese balances out the overall flavor.
It doesn’t get much easier than these super simple veggie skewers. If you’re planning on serving a heavy meal, these light and fresh appetizers are the perfect pairings to round out the flavor palate, and the creamy dill sauce is a great accompaniment.
This great appetizer comes with an essential peanut sauce, which lends a sweet and spicy flavor to these bright and fresh spring rolls. These rolls are held together with clear rice-paper wrappers, which allow for tons of great flavor to be packed into one edible snack.
What you need to know about the bug that caused 206 million eggs to be recalled
A moment of silence for the unspeakable number of eggs that were likely cast aside in the trash this week. That’s because last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Indiana-based company Rose Acre Farms recalled over 200 million eggs after tracing a salmonella outbreak to one of its North Carolina farms.
The eggs, which were distributed to nine total states, “were likely connected to 22 reported cases of salmonella infections” according to The New York Times.
Rose Acre Farms calls itself second-largest egg producer in the United States, with three million hens that produce 2.3 million eggs a day, so the whole concept is a little dizzying. But before you forsake eggs for good, let’s take a moment to go over the facts.
While we read frantic headlines about salmonella thinking of an illness, it’s actually the name of the bacteria that causes salmonellosis (or salmonella infection). Both terms get their namesake from an American scientist named (get this) Dr. Daniel E. Salmon, who discovered the bacteria with research assistant Theobald Smith.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million Americans a year contract salmonellosis. Though it can happen from contact with pets, about 1 million of those cases are caused by food.
The mere mention of foodborne illnesses may make you jump and your stomach turn, and you’re not the only one. There’s a reason why any food-tainted headlines seem both frequent and panicky—the concept of unknowingly ingesting something dangerous seems overwhelming when you think about the fact that you eat three meals a day. And the reason you hear extra buzz about salmonella infections is because it’s one of the most common foodborne illnesses.
Not only that, but the number of salmonellosis outbreaks has been increasing over the years. Many people think that salmonella is primarily a risk arising from undercooked chicken, while that is one source of infection, there are many others.
Those sources include other kinds of uncooked meat, contaminated water, raw milk, fresh produce, and, of course, raw eggs.
Luckily, when salmonella infection is caught, it’s typically very treatable—and most people only need fluids to recover, often in just a few days. Others, however, need antibiotics, and the CDC says that 23,000 Americans are hospitalized for salmonella with 450 deaths annually, so it’s still something to watch out for.
If you’ve been reading the headlines and suddenly realizing you’ve been feeling iffy for a few weeks now, don’t worry—it’s not because you ate some kind of gross chicken last month. “Whereas other foodborne germs, such as E. coli and listeria, may take days or even weeks for symptoms to show, salmonella symptoms may appear after only a few hours and may last for several days,” explained Kronenberg.
The symptoms include nausea, chills, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, and diarrhea, for starters. Fun, huh? However, with a little prep, it’s not too hard to prevent. While it’s undeniable that some things happen in life from pure bad luck, many cases of salmonella infection can be avoided by introducing a few precautionary routines. Kronenberg advises washing your hands. We’ve all been told to wash our hands practically since we were born but when you’re handling something like raw produce, it’s hard to remember that something as innocuous as an apple can be laden with bacteria.
Be careful while you’re cooking. Don’t handle raw and cooked foods with the same cookware. Washing fresh produce with cold water may reduce the risk of illness.
Use a food thermometer if you want to be extra careful in light of the arguably unsettling egg news.
Cooking eggs to temperatures of 160 degrees or above or until the yolk is firm or fully cooked will kill salmonella and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
In the latest report about pesticide residues, the Environmental Working Group says that 70% of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain up to 230 different pesticides or their breakdown products.
The analysis, based on produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that strawberries and spinach contained the highest amounts of pesticide residues. One sample of strawberries, for example, tested positive for 20 different pesticides, and spinach contained nearly twice the pesticide residue by weight than any other fruit or vegetable.
The two types of produce topped the EWG ranking of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest concentrations of pesticides the so-called “Dirty Dozen.” After strawberries and spinach come nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers. More than 98% of peaches, cherries, and apples contained at least one pesticide.
This year’s list nearly mirrors the one from last year, suggesting that little has changed in how these crops are grown. (The analysis applied only to produce that wasn’t grown organically.)
How dangerous is the exposure to the chemicals? Since federal laws in 1996 mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study and regulate pesticide use for its potential to harm human health, many toxic chemicals have been removed from crop growing. But studies continue to find potential effects of exposure to the pesticides still in use. A recent study, for instance, indicated a possible link between exposure to pesticides in produce and lower fertility.
More studies are needed to solidify the relationship between current pesticide exposures from produce and long-term health effects. In the meantime, researchers say that organic produce generally contains fewer pesticide residues, and people concerned about their exposure can also focus on fruits and vegetables that tend to contain fewer pesticides. Here is the EWG’s list of the fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticide residue, the so-called Clean 15:
Frozen sweet peas