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The fine art of boiling

By John ~ Friday, 16 May 2014

Boiling (and its siblings poaching and simmering) is probably one of my favourite methods of cooking, especially in the late spring and summer when there’s a bounty of fresh vegetables and my desire to eat light kicks in.

Last night we rapidly boiled some purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus, simmered some no-soak lentils and chucked them all in a bowl with some rocket, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and poached salmon, a dollop of anchovy mayonnaise to accompany, job done. Quick, light and fresh but most of all very tasty.

I always think of boiling as the art of letting things taste of what they taste of. The trick then is simply combining those flavours well.

Cauliflower is another good example for me. It’s true it is excellent roasted or baked in a cheese sauce but boiling it quickly in some lightly salted water then blending the cauli with a little of the cooking water and a dash of boiled cream creates a wonderfully fresh tasting cauliflower soup. Liven it up some more by gently boiling a little double cream and blue cheese. A little rosemary oil over the top works a treat too.

Boiled chicken is another good example, throw in some herbs, onions and carrots. The end result is very moist chicken, perfect for salads and you also get a tasty chicken stock for free.

The investment is a pan larger than you think you need and some quality sea salt. A small quantity of green vegetables, for example, benefit greatly from being dropped in an extra large pan of rapidly boiling water because the water tends to come back up to the boil very quickly and gets the job done before all the vibrant greenness is lost.

Got some favourite boiled recipes? Let me know on Twitter.