Puree’s are a simple technique. Versatile too. You start with raw, hard vegetable and you turn them into a creamy, silky smooth unctuous treat. Serve them straight up or add liquid for a soup. Home made baby food? Ok.
The process is simple: simmer vegetables until they are tender, run them through a food processor or blender, strain, dry, season, and serve.
I’ve used carrots for this post, and am just going to make a straight puree.
Prep the vegetables into fairly similarly sized pieces. They don’t have to be perfect, you’re going to puree them in the end. If you have clean trimmings, this is a good use.
You can simmer the vegetable in stock, or cream, or water as I have done here. If you’re making a soup, I suggest stock. Cream makes for a very rich puree – good for a side dish.
The main idea here is that you need to simmer the vegetables until they are completely soft. Totally tender. Mucho mushy.
Once the vegetables are soft, strain them, reserve some of the cooking liquid and place them in a food processor or a blender. Blend until smooth. If you find that you’re having trouble getting the puree started, add some of the cooking liquid.
At this point, the puree is pretty smooth. If you want to guarantee the smoothest of smooth purees, run it through a strainer. I have a chinois, so I used that. Push the puree through the strainer with a ladle.
If you are using the puree as a side, add it back to the pot over low heat to dry and reheat. If you’re using the puree in a soup, the drying part isn’t totally necessary.
Taste and season. If you are so inclined, finish it with a pat of butter. Taste it first though, you’d be surprised how tasty and ’round’ purees taste with just the proper seasoning.
Important note: Potatoes and other starchy vegetables don’t react well to blenders or food processors. The high speed mixing really develops gluten and you wind up with gluey potatoes. What you need to do is follow the steps above, but instead of a food processor, run the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer. I have been told that you can put the tender potatoes in a stand mixer, but only while they’re piping hot. I haven’t tried it, but I totally trust the source.