If you've never heard of a chinois, it's a cone-shaped strainer that's often seen in professional kitchens and used for a multitude of purposes. While household strainers are more commonly round-shaped (better suited for straining pasta, sifting powdered sugar or flour, and the like), the conical chinois is more functional for extracting the liquids out of meats, vegetables, and fruits. Want a case for adding the chinois to your home kitchen? Here, we offer five foods that work well with the chinois.
- Stock: Make your stocks clear and fiber-free by straining out the bones and vegetable pieces. The cone shape helps trap everything, so bones don't go flying into the strained stock.
- Pureed soups and sauces: Leave behind even the most minute fibrous material after blending soups and sauces into a puree.
- Gravy: Trap small particles from pan gravies, so you are left with a silky, thick finishing sauce.
- Custard: Strain custard bases prior to cooling or freezing them to get rid of any eggy bits that could ruin the otherwise smooth texture.
- Pureed fruit and jam: Remove skin, seeds, and fiber from pureed fruit and jams to achieve an even consistency.
For a functional, home-friendly version of a chinois, I like the Williams Sonoma Chinois Strainer, Pestle, and Stand ($100). The chinois fits securely on a stand, giving you a hands-free effect as pouring hot liquids into the strainer becomes a painless, mess-free process, plus it's tall enough to fit a medium-sized bowl underneath to catch the strained liquid. The wooden pestle is carved to match the conical shape of the chinois, so you can press every last drop out of the vegetables, fruit, or other food. Tell us: do you have a chinois at home, and if so, what do you use it for?