Why a Cooling Rack Is the Multi-Use Tool Your Kitchen Is Missing
A cooling rack is truly the most underrated kitchen tool. Not only does it help freshly baked cookies cool, but it's also the go-to tool to use when you want to cook bacon in the oven. As it turns out though, there are many more uses than just those two. We called on five chefs to lend insight on what they use a cooling rack for in their respective kitchens. You probably won't believe how many ways you can use it!
You can use a cooling rack to…
Cut hard-boiled eggs
"Simply slide a whole hard-boiled egg through the cooling rack, and you have square-cut eggs for a cobb salad or any other dish with hard-boiled eggs," says Kyoo Eom, executive chef of Dirty Habit in Washington, D.C.
Smoke chicken wings
"Cooling racks are great for smoking chicken wings," says owner & executive chef Bobby Nahra of Encore Catering & Banquet Center in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. "Be sure to pre-spray the cooling rack with cooking spray before the wings go into the smoker to avoid the skin from sticking and tearing."
Strain water from a pot of noodles
Why remove the pasta from the pot if that's where you want to serve it? Well, you don't have to, thanks to a cooling rack coming in to save the day.
"If you are cooking pasta and want to keep the pasta in the same pot, place a cooling rack on top of the pot to pour out the excess water," says Dearden. So simple!
Dry fresh pasta
"After rolling out and cutting fresh pasta, use a cooling rack to let it dry," says Ethan McKee, executive chef of Urbana in Washington, D.C. "The pasta dries at room temperature on the racks for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the pasta. The pasta can then be stored in an air-tight container for future use."
Make firm pancakes
"Place cooked pancakes on a cooling rack after so they don't get soggy sitting atop each other on a plate. This is also a great method if you are going to freeze them for a later date," says executive chef Walter Pisano at Tulio in Seattle, Washington.
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Make oven-dried tomatoes
"One of my favorite uses for a cooling rack is to make oven-dried tomatoes, especially when summer hits and the heirloom varieties come in," says Dolan Lane, executive chef of Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon. "They're naturally sweet, and, when roasted under high heat in the oven, all the sugars caramelize and are a quick topping to give salads, grains, and meat dishes a pop of flavor. Tomatoes have a high water content though, so the cooling rack helps create a gap for those juices to drain as they're baking."
Grill smaller foods
Elevate meat in the fridge
"I use a cooling rack to elevate meat in the refrigerator while dry aging cuts of meat like New York Strip and Prime Rib. Stick a baker's tray underneath the rack lined with Himalayan Salt to safely aid the enzymatic process that breaks down the fibers while aging," says Nahra.
Make potato chips
"After frying potato chips, use the rack to drain excess oil and sprinkle sea salt or your choice of seasonings. Put wax paper underneath the rack for easy cleanup," says Pisano.
"I often use a cooling rack to rest meat after it comes out of the oven, as it's better if the meat is elevated on a corrugated rack," says Nahra.