19 Basic Cooking Techniques You Need to Learn to Not Look Like a Beginner
For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
If you’ve made a food resolution to eat healthier this year — and let’s face it; who hasn’t! — you’re likely to be doing a lot more cooking at home. Whether you’re taking up a Whole30 challenge or making a switch to clean eating, the healthiest options won’t be found at restaurants and take-out joints. And the old standbys you’ve been making probably won’t make the cut. If the prospect of cooking at home more sounds daunting, we’ve got your back. As impressive as all our fave TV chefs make it look, cooking can be boiled down to just a few basics. Here are *the* 19 techniques that will prepare you for cooking almost any tasty recipe you come across.
1. Boil an Egg: Jokes abound about cooks who “can’t boil an egg,” but it can be tricky to achieve golden-yellow yolks with no overdone green ring. Here’s all you need to know, plus a neat trick for perfect peeling. (Technique + Recipe via The Kitchn)
2. Make an Omelette: The humble omelette is one of the most versatile meals a chef can have in her bag of tricks, and it’s not just for breakfast. Dress it up with meat, cheese and veggie mix-ins for a yummy, satisfying breakfast for dinner. (Technique + Recipe via Romulo Yanes/Martha Stewart)
3. Bake a Chicken: There’s nothing more savory than a perfectly baked chicken with tender meat and crispy skin, but it’s notoriously iffy to achieve. This Dutch oven method is easy peasy and absolutely goof proof. (Technique + Recipe via Bowl of Delicious)
4. Sear a Steak: The perfect steak is seared on the outside and juicy on the inside. This reverse-sear method finishes the meat in the oven for a perfect steak every single time. (Technique + Recipe via Stupid Easy Paleo)
5. Brown a Roast: For years, cooks were trained to brown a roast on the stovetop before finishing it in the oven. But here’s compelling evidence that browning at the end can be better. (Technique + Recipe via Serious Eats)
6. Chop Garlic: Here’s everything you need to know about the five basic cuts you’ll ever need: slice, dice, mince, chiffonade and julienne. Bonus: To easily peel garlic, first break up the head with the broad side of your knife, then chop away. (Technique + Recipe via The Everygirl)
7. Cut an Onion: First you master the *claw hold* with your free hand, then you go to town with the knife. This fool-proof “grid” pattern will get you a uniform dice every single time. (Technique + Recipe via Serious Eats)
8. Use Basic Knife Skills: From which blade to use to stabilizing your cutting board, here’s everything you need to know about knife technique. Click through for videos that are so much fun, it’s like having a friend cooking with you in your kitchen. (Technique + Recipe via The Kitchn)
9. Cook Pasta al Dente: Cooking pasta is like channeling Goldilocks. Take it out too soon and “this one’s too hard.” Leave it in the water too long and “this one’s too soft.” If you want it “just right,” you’ve got to cook it al dente — here’s how. (Technique + Recipe via Thrive Market)
10. Make a Vinaigrette: Almost every salad dressing you can name is derived from this basic vinaigrette. Master this, and you have SOOOOO got this cooking thing. (Technique + Recipe via Food Network)
11. Prepare Baking Pans: Has this ever happened to you? You follow a baking recipe to the letter, only to find at the end you can’t get your masterpiece out of the pan without it crumbling. Here’s all you need to know about flour, grease and parchment paper prep so that will never happen again. (Technique + Recipe via Food52)
12. Tenderize Meat: Sure, you *could* take a mallet to that steak, but there are simpler and more savory ways to tenderize a cut of beef. Click through for easy marinade tips, including tasty recipes. (Technique + Recipe via Serious Eats)
13. Poach Fish (or Other Proteins): Fish is not only healthy and delicious, but it cooks up fast — which is an awesome thing when you come home late from work. Master the art of cooking fillets gently in aromatic liquids and fish will always be a healthy option in your house. (Technique + Recipe via Food52)
14. Steam Vegetables: It’s easy to tell if veggies are done by the color and tenderness. Here is a quick guide to steaming vegetables, including actual cook times for the most commonly cooked vegetables. (Technique + Recipe via GYGI)
15. Roast Vegetables: There’s no big trick to roasting veggies, except to cut everything roughly the same size. This easy recipe will get you perfect veggies every time. (Technique + Recipe via Kristen Kilpatrick Photography/Camille Styles)
16. Blanche Vegetables: Don’t throw out those veggies your CSA sent too much of! Blanch and freeze them, and it will be like having a green market in your kitchen through the winter. (Technique + Recipe via The Kitchn)
17. Make a Roux: A roux is a paste made of butter and flour that’s used to thicken almost every sauce, soup or stew recipe you’ll ever come across. Get this one down, and you’re just a few ingredients away from mastering the five most-used (and most impressive) sauces in French cooking: bechamel, espagnole, hollandaise, velouté and tomato sauce. Ooh la la! (Technique + Recipe via Oh My Dish)
18. Make Gravy: I think we can all agree that gravy is awesome and it’s just not Thanksgiving without it. Here’s how to make yours from scratch, starting with homemade turkey stock. Everyone will be so impressed! (Technique + Recipe via The Pioneer Woman)
19. Make a Pan Sauce: Have you ever pan sautéd something, then immediately washed the pan? Next time add a glug of stock, wine or juice to the brown bits in that pan, then finish it up with a pat of butter for the most delectable sauce. Yes, it’s really that easy — here’s a step by step. (Technique + Recipe via Jill Silverman Hough)
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