Crushing the Cooking – 5 Secrets to Taking Your Culinary Skills to the Next Level
Have you nailed the basics in the kitchen? It might be time to build on your ability to pull flavors out of your ingredients and refine your skills. As much as we might believe that a good artist never blames his tools, the right tools certainly simplify the process of reaching your success. Master these simple tricks to help your kitchen creativity flow:
Brown to Perfection
Sauteeing vegetables? Stir-frying a flavorful melody of meat and vegetables? Resist the urge to stir the ingredients excessively. Let them simmer in the juices, browning thoroughly before you flip and turn them. That brown and crispy quality is where the flavor lies, so allow it truly sear – thoroughly. If you’re worried about the amount of oil you’ll require to avoid burning the food while it sears, it may be time to modernize your cookware.
Cooking is a creative process that requires you to continuously gauge your progress, amending it as needed. With cooking maestros, like Jamie Oliver, simply instructing you to add a “dash of olive oil” or a good “dollop” of cream, it may seem like precision is no longer valued in the industry. These professionals are simply at the point where they’ve trained their eye to estimate with great accuracy. If there’s one area that requires more precision than any other, it’s cutting. Forget the speed and the fancy moves – aim to get your knife hand creating cut vegetables or meat that are similarly sized. This will ensure even cooking and better taste.
Thyme is Grand, but so is Time
Many dishes require far more than a basic sprinkling of time. A good decent simmer over the course of a few hours, a slow bake, or a timeous roast is sometimes required to allow the dish to develop the quality of its flavor at the end. For example, chicken in a vegetable stock reduction, pork roasts, French or onion soups, and even roasted vegetables will yield better flavors when they’re allowed to roast slowly.
The Missing Piece of the Culinary Puzzle
There’s a little trick many of the experienced chefs use to elevate their flavors. The trick has yet to reach most households – so it’s a really worthwhile “secret tip.” After you’ve added salt to your dish, follow it with a dash of acidity. Whether it’s a creamy pasta or a spicy curry, a hint of acidity can bring more of the underlying flavors to the top. If you taste your dish and the flavor seems oddly incomplete, a small teaspoon of white wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice might just give it that much-needed bite.
Plan with the End in Mind
Trying a new recipe? Don’t just skim the section you’re busy with, read the entire recipe through to the end before you begin. Glancing at the ingredients list and understanding the first two steps won’t shed enough light – sometimes a certain ingredient needs to be incorporated in stages. Familiarize yourself with the mechanics of the entire process before you get started – this also helps you to keep everything ready and prepare a space in the kitchen for the different processes.
Sharpening your Culinary Skills
Creating tastes and textures through food preparation is an art that can be developed. Much like any skill; whether it’s sport, performance, or painting and drawing – there are a few basic principles that help to yield a better end result. Spend time mastering these basics and the rest simply falls into place. At that point, you’re able to bring in some creative interpretation and experimentation.