Use Raw Pasta As a Makeshift Skewer

There are many recipes that call for “fixing” something with a skewer or toothpick. Things like stuffed chicken breasts, meatloaf, and bacon wrapped in just about anything – so many of those little grocery bags need to be pierced with a piece of wood to keep their shape while cooking. But what if you don’t have a tree? There is always spaghetti (or bucatini or fettuccine).

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I found this tip in the Quick Tips section of the most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated . This little hack sent in by a reader will save your ass when you run out of skewers and toothpicks:

Lee Satterfield of Tallahsee, Florida was making stuffed chicken breasts when he realized he didn’t have skewers or toothpicks to hold raw chicken together while cooking. However, he had a box of bucatini handy (fettuccine would work too), and the long noodles threaded the bird onto skewers with ease. (Besides, there was no need to worry about accidentally biting a sharp skewer or toothpick.

Besides stuffed chicken breasts (or even stuffed chicken thighs), you can use small pieces of raw pasta to secure a lot of things, like pineapple and cherry rings on a baked ham, bacon around a scallop, or shrimp or lemon slices on a piece of fish. You can even use the noodles to serve appetizers like caprese skewers (cherry tomatoes, mozzarella ball, basil leaf); or stabilize an elevated sandwich (or stick an olive into the top of said sandwich).

However, I wouldn’t use a piece of pasta as a grill skewer. The ends will burn and the noodles will soften inside the food, making it difficult to remove the skewer from the grill. (The wild spit is not an efficient spit – I always say this.)

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