Sure, summer is suited to barbecues, picnics and all sorts of al fresco fun. But indoor entertaining has appeal during the warmer months as well. When temperatures turn too sultry to sit outside, or you just crave a more elegantly prepared meal shared with good friends and no mosquitoes, you’ll be grateful for your kitchen and indoor entertainment spaces.
“Whether you cook outside on the grill or indoors on your range, your kitchen and indoor entertaining space shouldn’t sit idle during summer months,” says Chef Billy Parisi, manager of culinary marketing for Sears Holdings, who blogs about cooking and entertaining and is the spokesman for the Sears Chef Challenge cooking competition. “If you’re grilling up some gourmet steaks outside, you can put your kitchen appliances to work prepping side dishes, keeping food fresh and generally making your task as host easier.”
With many American families still opting to entertain at home rather than travel or go out to restaurants, Chef Parisi offers some helpful hints to make your indoor summer soirees a success. In addition, he shares an exciting opportunity on how to win a complete Kenmore kitchen makeover for cooking enthusiasts looking to show off their culinary skills in the Sears Chef Challenge:
* Marinades make summer meals
Whether you’re cooking indoors or outside, marinated meats are a summer staple. Marinades are an ideal way to showcase your own unique twist to a meal by adding extra flavor. Be sure to tailor the marinade to the type of dish you’re preparing. Are you going spicy or tropical? You can find a wealth of marinade recipes online to suit virtually any dish, such as rosemary-marinated pork tenderloin with cherry-mustard compote and jasmine rice.
Once you’ve prepared the marinade, place it with the meat in a sealed container (not aluminum or metal since it can affect the taste) and immediately refrigerate. Always marinate meat in a refrigerator to prevent the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. The preferred temperature of a refrigerator is between 35 to 38 F.
* Win with wine reduction
Sipping a great wine with family and friends is a much-loved ritual of summer. But to really impress guests, incorporate a favorite wine into your cooking. A wine reduction is a great way to add a finishing touch to meat or to glaze a delicious roast. In addition to your main course, your wine reduction can also be used on a fresh summer salad as an appetizer.
Making a wine reduction isn’t hard, but it does require patience. Pour the wine of your choice into a saucepan over medium heat. When the wine begins to steam, reduce the heat to a very low temperature and simmer for two to three hours and your wine should reduce to a syrup form. It’s best to use an induction cooktop for the reduction process, as it allows the heat to be evenly distributed throughout cooking.
* Kitchen prep – your grill’s best partner
Many people prefer their ribs falling-off-the-bone tender. To achieve this, grill ribs first, then place them in a large, 2-inch deep pan. Then add a little seasoned beef stock to braise the ribs. Cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or two, depending on the size of the ribs.
You can also use your grill to sear or mark meat, then finish cooking it to your exact preferences inside on your range or in your oven. It’s a great alternative if you’re not the best at judging when meat is fully cooked on the grill, since a range or oven allow for more temperature control.
* Keep your kitchen up to date
With the right tools, cooking and entertaining is not only fun, it can be easy and practical. If you’ve had the same appliances for the past 10, 15 or even 20 years, it’s time to update. Can’t afford to replace an entire suite of appliances? Chef Parisi recommends cooking enthusiasts try their hand at winning new appliances or even a complete kitchen makeover by entering the Sears Chef Challenge.
The Sears Chef Challenge gives you the chance to put your cooking skills head-to-head with top restaurant chefs from across the country, as well as other at-home chefs. Winners of the nationwide competition have the opportunity to receive Kenmore appliances and cash donations for their local food banks. A grand prize winner will receive a complete Kenmore kitchen makeover and up to $20,000 for the food bank of his or her choice. To become a contestant, visit www.searschefchallenge.com, complete the online entry form and submit a video of yourself cooking a favorite dish.
“Summer entertaining is even more fun when you’ve got a great kitchen in which to show off your talents,” Parisi says. “America is full of talented cooks who know how to whip up a great meal and make their summer entertaining something to remember.”