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I hate to truss foods. Mind you, I love stuffed foods like pork loins and turkey breasts and flank steaks but getting out the trussing twine is something I just do not enjoy. I think that it’s worse for the average cook who doesn’t do much of it.
I learned from watching my mother make a lovely stuffed flank steak when I was a kid. Trying to teach this in a recipe, however, is challanging and I never feel like I get the point across well. In a recent recipe for stuffed turkey breast I simply suggested using wooden skewers. A bit of a cop out I know but it does work really well (good stuffed turkey breast recipe too).
So I was pretty excited when I came across an advertisement for The Food Loop. This is a package of six silicone loops that work like a noose and can be used to truss anything. Because they are heat resistant to 675°F / 357°C you can use them for trussing and roasting almost anything.
I am not usually one to purchase a lot of kitchen gadgets. I use my knives to slice and rarely take out the food processor for anything but very big jobs. I would rather use a hand whisk than an electric mixer for instance. With a food processor the clean up is often as much hassle and time consuming than if you had just used a knife.
The Food Loop fits the criteria of making life easier, however. It is, quite simply a wonderful product. I trussed a stuffed pork loin in a matter of minutes. Simple, easy, done, in the oven. It’s actually fun. And clean up? Not only are they silicone and can go from being roasted in the oven to cleaned in the dishwasher the folks at Fusion Brands sell them in a little mesh pouch to place them in before you put them in the dishwasher, so you don't lose any down the drain. (Look for more stuffed and trussed recipes from Dr. Gourmet soon!)
I don’t often find myself wandering about the kitchen store purchasing every new type of whisk or expresso maker or ice crusher. But I went as soon as I could to get this product. While I was there I thought “hmm… time to keep an open mind” wondering if there might be other things that I missed that could make my kitchen work easier.
Here’s my other items. I am batting 1000 on the usefulness criteria that it should make life easier in the kitchen and not more hassle.
Good Grips (and others) make a garlic peeler. I have seen these used before but figured it was just gimmicky. Buy one now. This is a small, flexible silicone tube big enough for a few garlic cloves. Pop your unpeeled clove inside, roll on the counter and out pops the peeled clove. Dang! It is sweet! Again, the silicone is easy clean up. At about 7 bucks this product is a must have.
The other product is also silicone (maybe it was that I had easy to clean plastic on the brain). It is an oven mitt made by ISI Basics called the ORKA Silicone Oven Mitt. A bit pricy at $20.00, but it is a great product. I pulled a cast iron pan out of a 400°F oven the other night and I could not feel any heat through the glove. The card attached the mitt does suggest that you don’t hold hot items for any other than “short periods of time only.” Feeling defiant, I held the hot pan for a full 60 seconds and felt nothing through the glove. Nothing!
I don’t think that it’s the silicone gadgets that attracted me as much as their usefulness. From now on I am going to pay more attention to the small items that can be a huge help. More to come soon.
Timothy S. Harlan, MD
January 12, 2006