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Chef’s Roundtable: At-Home Kitchen Hacks from Chicago’s Top Chefs

What’s your favorite kitchen hack for the at-home chef?

Saul Roman, Executive Chef of Artango Bar & Steakhouse

“For juicy and tasty Argentine short ribs, gaucho-style, the key is the slow-grilling of the meat. Make a steak rub of ground black pepper, red pepper, and salt and cover steaks with the rub on all sides. Heat a wood/charcoal grill to 450 degrees and arrange the ribs on the top shelf away from the direct flame. Let them cook slowly for four hours. This slow-grilling process will allow for the meat to tenderize and fall off the bone. Serve with homemade chimichurri sauce. I recommend preparing the sauce at least a couple of days ahead of time and storing it in a covered mason jar to let the flavors incorporate better.”

Behzad Khan, Executive Chef and Owner of Grand Trunk Road

“A kitchen hack that I love is for soft-boiled eggs — perfectly cooked every time. Heat water until boiling. Add eggs and cook for 6-1/2 minutes exactly—perfect soft-boiled eggs.” (Editorial note: Before peeling eggs, be sure to soak for 5 minutes in cold water.)

AJ Walker, Chef de Cuisine of Café Cancale

“Before roasting veggies in an oven, preheat your sheet tray. Turn your oven on to 425 degrees and put your sheet tray in. While heating, cut your veggies to whatever size you want, then season them with salt, pepper, olive oil, and your choice of spices. Mix it all in a bowl. When pouring onto the baking tray, be sure to spread them in one even layer.” (Editorial note: Preheating the tray speeds up cooking and helps with browning.)

Johnny Besch, Executive Chef of BLVD

“When making any sauce reduction, jus, or demi-glace at home, I always make a quart or two extra, pour the sauce into ice cube trays, and freeze. Once frozen, you can pop the cubes out of the tray and store them in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Whenever you are cooking vegetables or protein, you just toss one of your sauce cubes in the pan to glaze and make a nice little pan sauce. You can also make oil-based sauces to freeze (like chimichurri) in ice cube trays if you don’t do the whole meat thing.”