Great cooks (and chefs) are made, not born.
Sure, someone might have a sensitive palate or a cool way of combining flavors, but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t able to slam down in the kitchen with a few cooking techniques that anyone can learn.
The best way to learn to get great results in the kitchen is simply a matter of practice and learning some cooking secrets that can make a world of difference in meals that you cook every day.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret…
Most of those little mistakes are so easy to correct, and once you do… a whole world of taste and new textures will be open to you.
It starts in your grocery cart! Start with fresh meats, seafood, vegetables, seasonings, and fresh herbs. Avoid highly processed ingredients like sauce mixes, bouillons, and artificial flavor enhancers that also come with loads of sodium and preservatives.
Season with Salt
Get a good handle on how to use salt. When it comes to proteins like fish, chicken, beef and pork, always season with salt before you sear, it never tastes the same if you season afterwards. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, measure out your salt and remember that pork, shrimp, and shellfish already contain naturally occurring sodium (about double compared to chicken and beef).
Hot to Trot
Always warm your skillet and stockpots over medium high heat before searing your meat, about 20 seconds. Never place raw meat in a cold pot, because proper searing is the key to serious flavor and that would come from an ice cold skillet. For the best sear, use a good quality stainless steel skillet, and skip the non-stick. The only exception is bacon: start your batch in a cold pan for even cooking.
Overcooking veggies makes them taste bad — plain and simple. Most veggies take around 5 minutes max to cook. Aim for tender crisp, meaning soft when you press them with a fork but still slightly crisp when you bite into them. Have your flavorings ready, because only some veggies come with their own bold flavorings — like chopped chives, olives, capers, fresh herbs and spices. Read more about the best way to cook veggies here.
Love to bake but not sure why your baked goods (like muffins and quick breads) come out so tough? Don’t overmix, and it’s as simple as counting. Count the turns as you mix with a wooden spoon, about 10 to 15 turns. It’s ok if there are a few dry streaks, so you don’t over work the gluten in the flour. Bread is the opposite, since you want to develop the gluten so knead away.