Three Tips for Perfect Puree
Soul food is enjoying a renaissance across the country for a wide audience at this time. Essential Puree has included a master book of soul food recipes in honor of Black History month. We are adapting soul food recipes to the dysphagia kitchen.
With good preparation in the kitchen, and a good selection of cooking methods and cooking tools, the loved one does not have to give up favorite comfort foods.
1. Picking the recipe is the first tip. Choose a recipe with a tender protein component and a sauce. Oxtail soup is a perfect example. The cooking method renders a less expensive cut of meat soft and tender. The most important thing when removing the meat for the puree is to eliminate any sinews and connective tissue as these do not puree. Sometimes you can dig a little marrow out of the bones and this is nutritional.
2. Use recipes with a good cooking method. A heavy grilling is not preferred because the char is not safe for the swallow. Black-eyed peas that have been simmered for a long time until they are soft are perfect. A serving is about a cup for an average appetite. Preserve the cooking liquid, strained of spices, to use in the puree. The ratio is a half a cup of liquid to a cup of vegetables.
The best cooking methods are boiling, pan sauté, baking, electric pressure cooking, steaming. I use an indoor grill and low and slow cooking for grilling. My secret for barbecue ribs is to cook them in an electric pressure cooker with the sauce, a mild version for the swallow, as the glaze.
Also, deep frying, such as with fried chicken is not easy for the swallow. Since the food is to be pureed, you are going to lose the texture anyway, so although this sounds like blasphemy to anyone who likes fried chicken, use the stir fry method and add some of the breading ingredients to the sauce. You will get the flavor and the smooth puree. As I often advise students, a tweaked version of the dish is better than no dish at all.
3. Picking the ingredients is the third tip. Collard greens must be prepared by removing ribs and tough stems as these will not puree.
All skins, seeds and fibrous parts of any food or vegetable must be removed. The best way to do this is to run the puree through a mesh sieve with a silicone spatula. This will eliminate any food that cannot be easily transported over the throat. If your sweet potatoes are fibrous, run them through the sieve.
For green beans and lima beans, use a high speed blender for the vegetables that are more resistant, such as green beans.
Corn, especially if it is mature, may have a tough kernel around the corn. The best way to prepare it is too cook it soft and then to use a high speed blender capable of breaking down the cell wall. Corn should be run through a mesh sieve with a silicone spatula in order to remove any tough bits.
Okra should be cooked in such a way that the gooey ooze is rendered smooth for the swallow. Any food that is elastic or rubbery, such as mozzarella cheese, is not a good selection for the person with a swallowing disorder. Get the free download for Instant Thickeners.