Spend enough time in a professional kitchen and you pick up plenty of MacGyver-like skills and tricks that can come in handy in all sorts of situations — techniques you only learn when you’re on an undermanned, overworked line and every second counts. With that in mind, welcome to Grub Street’s newest column, Chef Hacks, wherein each entry will be devoted to one such useful, unexpected technique that you can put to use immediately. Today: Jimmy Bradley of the Red Cat in New York reveals how he makes coffee the very old-fashioned way.
Granted, Bradley says this particular trick was picked up on camping and sailing trips, not on the line. But the technique is just as useful at home. “My father still to this day makes his coffee like that every day,” he says. “People buy him coffee machines and filters and French presses and drips, and he just thinks they’re assholes because nothing makes better coffee than coffee and water.”
It’s proof, Bradley says, that “you don’t need all the newfangled shit that salespeople say you need in order to be cool.”
1. Fill a pan with water and turn on the heat. Use a little more water than you would normally use when making coffee, since some of it is going to get left behind.
2. When the water’s boiling, add your coffee. The amount of coffee you need will vary, but aim for two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water you use.
3. Kill the heat immediately, cover the pan, and wait until all of the grounds settle at the bottom — it will take four to five minutes.
4. You’re done: Just slowly pour the coffee off the top or ladle it into cups, and you’re all set.