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Kitchen Twine=A Culinary Lifeline

Kitchen Twine=A Culinary Lifeline

Kitchen twine (photo by Creative Commons user Aylanah)

Amy Scattergood | Chicago Tribune

String, specifically cotton butcher’s or kitchen twine, is one of the most useful items you can have in your kitchen. Think about it: With just a simple length of twine, you can tie roasts, herbs or roulades, tie off sausage links, support stuffed meats or vegetables, reconstruct cuts of meat and truss poultry.

Twine is one of those kitchen tools, like plastic wrap and parchment or wax paper, that we often take for granted. But consider how many ways you already use it—and allow for a few new ones—and you might want to pick up a few more rolls the next time you’re at the hardware store.

Not only is twine inherently practical, but there’s also a simplicity about a ball of string that’s oddly comforting. So ordinary as to be mundane, made of basic cotton (don’t use plastic or plastic-coated, which will melt, or jute, which can be too stiff), it should be in every kitchen.

Tying cuts of meat and wrapping whole birds with twine helps them keep their shape, which makes for tidier and more uniform cooking. Twine can keep stuffings firmly inside roulades or the cavities of birds. And it can fasten items that you want on the outside, such as herbs or slices of bacon—a technique called barding that’s kind of like wrapping a present without tape. Herbed pork loin for example, is even better when it’s barded with bacon. Lengths of twine, spaced at even intervals, secure the bacon to the pork.

Just be sure to remove the string before serving. It may seem obvious, but string can sometimes get lost in a beautifully roasted turkey. But keep it wound around a roast or roulade while you slice it—this helps keep any stuffing or barding intact and also makes portioning easier—then remove the string when you’re done.

Tying is important when reassembling cuts of meat that have been boned, especially if they’ve been re-formed around the bone. Tying a standing rib roast or a large rack of lamb helps prevent the layers of meat from separating.

A note about knots: Although there are many knots to choose from, the square knot is probably the most useful in the kitchen. Just tie two overhand knots, left over right, then right over left: The tidy results will look like two interlocking loops. How simple is that?