Whether you’re a veteran chef or just starting out for the first time, there’s always room to become a better cook. These are some useful and little-known cooking hacks that will have you cooking like a pro in no time. Get ready for your meals to rise in quality, because they’ll be so good you might want to share them with your friends, or just save it all for yourself! Make sure your kitchen is stocked and you have all the right equipement, and these cooking hacks will make your food unique and delicious.
1) Countering Blandness
You may find that, even if you used all the proper ingredients and cooking methods, your food might taste a little bland. If you find your food to not have much flavor, don’t throw it away! Instead of getting rid of bland food, you should try seasoning it. Even expert chefs can find their dishes are underwhelming, so start to counter that by adding salt, pepper, or sugar. These three seasonings are the fundamentals, but there are plenty of other useful ingredients to help bring out your food’s inner flavour. Having a variety of spices can help. Another ingredient that enhances flavors is acid, like lemon juice/citrus juice or vinegar. You’ll be surprised at how a little bit of these ingredients can take your food a long way.
Making sauces can be a difficult task. They might not turn out as well as you expect, especially when compared to the restaurants or recipes you are trying to emulate. If you aren’t feeling impressed with the quality of your sauce, then right before serving, try stirring in a few pats of cold butter. A pat of butter is roughly a tablespoon of butter, and can do quite a lot for your sauce. If you wait until your sauce is finished before adding the butter, your sauce will become more rich and more glossy. To make sure your butter is cold, try putting it in the freezer for a few minutes. Then just mix it in to your sauce and you’ll have a delicious mixture ready for consumption.
3) Deglazing Pans
It may be surprisng to some, but professional chefs often don’t clean their pans in the traditional sense. While your kitchenware definitely needs a good scrubbing with soap and water now and again, there are times when leftover, burnt scraps have their use. These burnt bits, called fond, have tons of flavor, and are great for cooking sauces, soups, and gravys. So instead of washing away those bits, you should deglaze your pan by pouring in some wine or stock. Make sure to stir up your pan so all the fond gets properly mixed in.
4) Toasting Nuts and Spices
If any recipe calls for nuts or spices, there is a simple way to guarantee you maximize their flavor. Simply toasting them brings out their true flavor. For nuts, you’ll want to put them into the oven for about ten to fifteen minutes at 350 degrees. For spices, you can put them in a dry pan and quickly toast them, or even fry them gently in oil. That process, called blooming, is great for bringing out spices natural flavor, whether they be ground or whole. Just make sure they are nice and toasty, rather than burnt.
5) Dry Meats
Whatever meat you might be cooking, it always helps to dry them before you prepare them. You should pat them dry with paper towels and place them in a cooler or fridge for a few minutes. If you do this, your meats should give you a crisp, golden skin. In addition, the drying process makes the meat less likely to stick to your pan.
6) Let Meat Rest
Continuing the meat cooking hacks, remember that less is more. When you are cooking meat on a medium to high heat, it’s best that the meat be left alone. Don’t flip it too often or poke and prod at it. Even once it’s off the heat, you want to give your meat a chance to rest. That way, all of it’s inner moisture and juices will distrubute as evenly as possible, giving them a delicious texture and flavor once finished. Otherwise, you may cut into it and loose a large amount of the moisture.
7) Pasta Sauce
If you are cooking a pasta dish meant for a sauce, then you don’t need to cook your pasta for the full amount of time you would normally. Instead, remove the pasta a minute or two before it finishes cooking, and let the heat of your sauce finish cooking it. That way, the pasta sticks to the sauce better and absorbs some flavor from the sauce. You should also save some of the water you used to boil your pasta and stir some in to your sauce. This is a great way to thin out your thicker sauces, as well as making them more glossy and tasty.
8) Cooking Eggs
Eggs are very easy to overcook and brown, which leaves them rubbery and of lower quality than they could be. If you want to cook your eggs properly, you should cook them on low heats. This way, they retain their natural shape better, and are much softer when they’re finished. You never want your pan hot enough to brown your eggs.
9) Brining Meat
If you want the highest quality meat that bursts with juicy flavor, then you should brine it before cooking. Brining can be as simple or complicated as you like. The easiest way is to simply let your meat soak in salt water for about a half hour in the fridge. But you can give your meat additional flavor by brining it in water filled with not just salt, but sugar and other whole spices and herbs. This not only makes the meat taste better, but also makes it easier and more forgiving to cook.
10) Hone Your Knife
Keeping your kitchen utensils in shape is always a smart idea for any chef. But one of the easiest kitchen tools to get damaged is your knives, so be sure to hone it every time you use it. Honing doesn’t actually sharpen your knife, but it does straighten the metal and realign it. This way, your knife is less likely to become warped over time. You knife is an important tool, so take good care of it.
What are your own cooking hacks and techniques? Do you feel ready to make your own delicious meals? Leave a comment and let us know!