Becoming a Better Cook One Basic Culinary Skill at a time
Hi guys, it’s me, Mary, and I’m back in action again!
*Liz* had a seemingly simple yet interested question for me. Here’s what she asked:
“I’m an avid follower of your practical articles on A Sharp Slice. Having read through your articles, there’s something I’d like to know.
What would you say are some of the most basic culinary skills I can master to help me improve my cooking?”
So Liz gave me the inspiration I needed to go out and dig into this matter a bit.
Let’s just clear something up:
We’re all normal (probably working class) people who don’t have the spare time to attend culinary school and learn all about the best cooking techniques right?
Luckily you don’t need cash or time to up your skills in the kitchen!
There are literally heaps and bounds of ways to improve your cooking skills TODAY, and I’m going to share it with you just because I’m a nice gal!
Basic Culinary Skills – 10 Rules To Help You Improve
Rules for Upping Your Cooking Game and take things up a notch in the kitchen…
- Thou Shalt Get Grip
I’m talking about your knife here. You really want to choke up on your chef’s knife. Make sure you choke up on the handle to the point of putting your thumb and the side of your index finger onto the side of the blade above the handle. This gives you better control over your knife, which I assume is already a great quality brand? If not, check out my article on The Best Quality Kitchen Knives.
- Thou Shalt Use The Best Ingredients
This is really important because the best ingredients result in the most flavorsome dishes. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but does cheap parmesan taste the same as the real deal Parmigiano-Reggiano?
- Thou Shalt Use Thein Hands
I love using my hands to check how ‘done’ meats are, and the great thing is our hands are such sensitive and sophisticated cooking tools; they often work much better than fancy thermometers. Your hands can feel a lot, including checking whether a cake is baked, dough has been kneaded enough and when fruits are ripe.
- Thou Shalt Learn To Love Kosher Salt
Why? Well, kosher and sea salt taste much better than plain old table salt. It’s also better quality and adds a distinct taste to food.
- Thou Shalt Not Crowd The Pan
I did this a lot in my rookie years, literally piling ingredients into the pan for sautéing. This actually lowers the pan’s temperature, creates way too much steam and delivers un-browned soggy veggies. The best plan is to dry of the food prior to cooking it in a hot pan and then make sure you can always see the bottom of the pan between pieces of food when you’re sautéing.
- Thou Shalt Learn To Love Reductions
Look, I know that the sauce from braised meats or veggies taste good after the cooking is doe, but to get maximum flavor, make sure you reduce that sauce a little before serving it. Make sure you deglaze the pan by boiling it with the liquid over a high heat. These sauces make excellent home-made stocks too by the way!
- Thou Shalt Bake The Crust Longer
Most recipes call for a standard 45 minute or so baking time for pie and tart crusts, but in all honesty, the results you get with that time is just a pale blond. What you really want is a good light brown, which is when the sugar in the crust has had enough time to caramelize. As a rule, I add a good 10 extra minutes to any crust recipe.
- Thou Shalt Not Cut The Hot Roast
Okay so I’m not suggesting you refrigerate it before carving the roast, but letting it rest a bit after the cooking process allows the meat’s juices to redistribute, which is what you want and need in order to avoid a dry result.
- Thou Shalt Love Acidity
I love adding a splash of vinegar or citrus juices to all vegetable and meat dishes as a last minute flavor boost. I even use t in fruit desserts; just a little splash on top really goes a long way.
- Thou Shalt Not Rely Solely On A Timer
Kitchen timers are handy little tools, but you know what’s even more reliable? A doneness test! If your dish looks ‘golden brown’ or ‘boiled until it has reduced by half’ it’s OKAY to kick the timer to the curb. Our ovens don’t all work exactly the same, so your cooking times may vary!
See, 10 simple rules are all you need to give your basic culinary skills that added oomph. Go ahead and try them out, I promise you’ll love the results.
Now that we’ve got another set of basic kitchen rules out of the way, I want you to grab a cup of tea and sit down with me.
I’ve got lots to tell you. If you’re a Shushi lover, you’ll be happy to know I’ve covered your needs in my articles about The Best Sushi Knife and The Best Santoku Knife. I’ll also dive into the much debated Calphalon Knives with their self-sharpening knife blocks.
But first, head on over to my next post where I’ll guide you through the Top 10 Kitchen Knives!