The Five Best Ways to Use Cold and Frozen Food Before Hurricane Irma, According to Miami Chefs

Cold pizza is better than no pizza.EXPAND
Cold pizza is better than no pizza.
Photo by Chris Carter
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With most of Miami shut down as Hurricane Irma looms, many are left questioning what to do with cold and frozen food stocked inside fridges and freezers before the lights go out.

New Times spoke to five local chefs about what to do with perishable goods, from pickling vegetables to cooking pasta, chicken, and pizza, which can later be eaten cold.

1. Richard Hales, best known for his restaurants Blackbrick, Sakaya Kitchen, and Bird & Bone, recommends preparing as many meals as possible before potential power outages. He suggests using leftover burger patties to whip up spaghetti and meat sauce; grill any frozen meats, such as steak or chicken; cook up pancakes or waffles, which can be frozen and later defrosted to eat at room temperature; and have fruits and vegetables on hand. Before you pick up a protein bar, keep in mind that precooked foods, such as spaghetti, certain meats, pizza, fried chicken, sandwiches, and pancakes, can be eaten cold during a storm. "We're trying to make it nice and somewhat nutritious during this stressful weekend," he says.

2. James Seyba, former executive chef at Miam Café who opened his own restaurant in February, suggests going simple. "A huge soup or stew is a good idea," he says. Use spare ingredients laying around, such as vegetables and meat, and add spices into some water, if you don't have any stock. Cook it up before the storm and serve cold.

3. If you're into pickles or any other pickled vegetables, you're in luck. Pablo Zitzmann Sicard, executive chef at Chopsticks Restaurant Group, suggests pickling vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, or cabbage. Any vinegar can be used to pickle a vegetable, but Sicard prefers rice wine vinegar, if available. The ratio is two cups vinegar to a half cup sugar. For example, place two cups of vinegar and a half cup of sugar inside a pot, bring to a boil, turn off, and then pour onto whatever you want to pickle and store tightly inside the refrigerator.

4. Meat Market's Sean Brasel dehydrates meats as a way to preserve some of his product and prepare for the hurricane using nitrates and a dehydrator. The chef says home enthusiasts can follow a simple jerky recipe to preserve and prepare the meat stored in fridge or freezer. Vegetables can also be dehydrated, according to Brasel. "Veggies can be dried out in an oven or warming drawer, either raw or slightly blanched in light salt water. They are best dried at 140 degrees for 12 to 24 hours. Tomatoes work best cut in half."

5. If you are able to get your hands on a small generator, Bernie Matz, Menin Hospitality's corporate culinary director, says go for it. "It's usually enough to run a television, refrigerator and a crock pot or microwave." If you don't have one, he suggests filling a large cooler with ice and storing prepared food. In addition to stews and soups, he recommends making large rice dishes, using vegetables, meats, and spices.

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