The best culinary minds know that simple touches can lead to magical meals.
Here are 30 kitchen tips and tricks that will ensure every dish makes your taste buds happy.
30. Baking Your Bacon
The secret to perfectly cooked bacon: Forget frying your bacon in a pan on the stove-top.
Bacon's tendency to scrunch up makes for uneven cooking.
Instead, place no more than a half pound of bacon in a 12 x 18 baking dish or on a baking sheet with sides and roast in a 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, for that perfectly crisp (but not too crisp) texture.
29. Cushion Your Cutting Board
Avoid a visit to the E.R.
Place a damp kitchen towel underneath your cutting board to prevent it from rocking or slipping while you're chopping or slicing foods.
28. Master Your Broiler
Think of a broiler as an inverted grill, ready to bring serious, concentrated heat to whatever food you place below it.
Chicken breasts, pork chops, and steaks take about 10 minutes to broil; just be sure to flip them midway through the cooking process, as you would when grilling.
27. Top-Chefs Time Their Salting
Time your salting well.
If you add salt to vegetables as soon as they hit the pan, the sodium will draw out moisture.
(They'll steam, not brown.)
For deep and flavorful caramelization, add salt at the end.
26. Immerse Your Meat
Put steaks and chops in a zip-top bag and then immerse the bag in tepid water for 30 to 60 minutes before cooking.
Raising meat's internal temperature makes it easier to cook evenly all the way through.
25. Salvage Wilted Produce
Liven up limp vegetables: Drop your aging produce into ice water before cooking.
Plants wilt due to water loss; ice water penetrates their cells to restore crispness.
24. Top-Chefs Brighten & Balance Flavors
Keep a spray bottle of sherry or rice vinegar on hand while you're cooking.
Misting a scallop, a piece of fish, or even a salad really helps brighten and balance all the flavors.
23. Top-Chefs Protect Their Fingers
Don't dice a digit.
Cut awkward-to-slice vegetables—such as mushrooms, carrots, and peppers—by first cleaving them in half.
Then rest the flat parts on the cutting board.
22. Revive Overcooked Meats
Salvage dinner: Slice the meat thinly, put it on a plate, and top it with chopped tomato, onion, and jalapeño.
Add olive oil and fresh lime juice (or a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette; see #6).
The acid and oil will restore moisture and fat to the mistreated meat.
21. Top-Chefs Prepare Plates Beforehand
Warm food, served on a cold plate is a rookie mistake.
Heat your dishes in a 150°F oven for 10 minutes before plating a meal.
On the flip side, lightly chilled plates (use your freezer) boost the freshness of cold dishes like summer salads.
20. Spice Up Your TV Dinner
Instantly improve your next TV dinner.
After cooking, add fresh herbs, a squeeze of citrus and a drizzle of olive oil to transform any frozen entree.
19. Top-Chefs Cook Fish Skin Side Down First
Always cook fish skin side down first.
The skin keeps the flesh of the fish from drying out and provides a crunchy counterpoint to the tender meat.
Cook your fillet undisturbed for 75 percent of the time on the skin side (about 5 minutes), and then flip it to the flesh side to finish.
18. Top-Chefs Drain Pasta Prematurely
If you want perfect al dente pasta, adapt the box directions.
Drain the pasta about 1 minute before the package tells you to.
Dump the noodles back into the pot and stir in the heated sauce.
The pasta will finish cooking in the pot.
17. Pat Meat & Fish Dry
Pat meat and fish dry before cooking.
Surface moisture creates steam when it hits a hot pan or grill, impeding carmelization.
If your fish has skin, use a sharp knife to squeegee off the water trapped within it.
16. Top-Chefs Shop On Wednesday
Go to the supermarket on hump day.
Research shows that only 11 percent of people shop for groceries on Wednesday, making it the best day to be in the aisles.
And only 4 percent of people shop after 9 p.m.
You may have to track down somebody to fetch fresh stuff from the back room, but what else do they have to do at that hour?
Plus, shorter checkout lines mean less time reading the gossip magazines.
15. Sample As You Cook
The best tool in your kitchen is your mouth.
Taste a dish at least three times during the cooking process, adjusting the seasoning every step of the way.
14. Puncture Your Meat
The problem: Dense meats like steak, pork, or chicken legs can burn on the outside before they're fully cooked on the inside.
The solution: Insert a clean stainless-steel rod or nail into the thickest part of the meat and finish cooking.
The nail will act as a conductor, drawing in heat and cooking the meat from the inside out
13. Top-Chefs Preheat the Pan
Pan roasting is a popular restaurant technique rarely employed by home cooks.
Preheat a cast-iron or stainless-steel pan on the stove with a bit of olive oil until you see wisps of smoke rise.
Add your chicken, steak, or fish and cook until one side is nicely browned—about 3 to 4 minutes.
Then flip it and place the entire pan in a 400°F oven to finish cooking.
12. Top-Chefs Zap Citrus Fruits in the Microwave
More pucker for the price!
Zap lemons, limes or oranges for 15 seconds in the microwave before squeezing them.
The fruit will yield twice as much juice.
11. Top-Chefs Know When to Shake & When to Stir
Great cocktails need serious shaking.
James Bond was wrong, martinis (and other drinks) that are made with clear spirits should be stirred.
Shake only cocktails made with fruit juices.
10. Save your Teflon
Teflon coatings can deteriorate on high heat, so save your nonstick pans for gentler tasks like cooking omelets and sauteing fish.
9. Top-Chefs Blend Butter & Olive Oil
Try cooking with a 50:50 mixture of butter and olive oil.
Butter brings big, rich flavors, but it burns and blackens at very low temperatures.
Oil prevents the milk solids in butter from charring, allowing you to ratchet up the heat.
8. Refrigerate With Caution
Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator.
And keep peaches, potatoes, onions, bread, garlic and coffee out of there, too.
Cold temperatures compromise the flavor and texture of these staples.
7. Water Down Your Pasta Sauce
The secret to great pasta sauce?
The cooking water.
Save a cup of the pasta's cooking water before you drain it and add the water to your sauce as needed.
The starch in it helps the sauce adhere to the pasta, creating a creamier, more flavorful final product.
6. Top-Chefs Make Their Own Vinaigrette
Bottled dressings are a waste of money and calories.
Make your own vinaigrette by whisking together three parts oil (olive, canola, or sesame) with one part vinegar (balsamic, red-wine, or rice), plus salt and pepper.
Build extra flavor by adding minced shallot, Dijon mustard, fresh herbs or honey.
5. Let Your Meat Rest
If you slice into your meat right after it comes off the grill, those precious juices, still circulating with residual heat, will bleed out onto your plate.
Let the meat rest: Wait 5 minutes before biting into burgers or grilled chicken, 7 minutes before cutting into steaks, and at least 15 minutes before carving a turkey or a larger roast.
4. Top-Chefs Salt & Refrigerate Raw Chicken
Nothing beats crispy chicken skin.
Buy a whole chicken the day before you'll cook it, sprinkle on a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt and leave it uncovered in the fridge.
The air and salt will draw out excess water.
3. Top-Chefs Don't Overcrowd the Pan
For deeply flavored foods, don't overcrowd the pan.
Ingredient overload makes a pan's temperature plummet and foods end up steaming rather than caramelizing.
This adds cooking time and subtracts taste.
All ingredients should fit comfortably in one layer, so use a pan that's big enough for the job and cook in batches if necessary.
2. Counterbalance Salt With Vinegar
Oops...too much salt?
Use just a splash of vinegar to provide a counterbalancing punch of acid and sweetness.
1. Lose the Saltshaker
Proper seasoning is paramount.
First, lose your saltshaker.
Pinch kosher salt straight from a dish.
The coarse grains and the touch of your fingers give you maximum control.
Add a pinch, taste, and repeat if necessary.Tweet
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