5 Professional Cooking Tips to Make You a Pro in the Kitchen
Not everyone has the culinary skills of a professional chef, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat like a college student. Most of us learned how to cook from our parents or grandparents, or just by trial and error (and a lot of YouTube videos). Here are five helpful tips for the kitchen that will impress Gordon Ramsay himself.
Invest in quality cookware
Professional chefs don’t use just any pans and spatulas — they use commercial-grade cookware that’s a lot sturdier than what you probably use at home today. You might think that investing in good cookware is too expensive, but that’s not actually the case. The real value is that commercial-grade cookware is designed to take a beating for several hours a day in restaurant kitchens, which means they’ll last for generations in your home, where they’re not used nearly as often as at a restaurant.
In a similar vein, take care of your kitchen supplies. Learn how to properly clean and season a cast iron skillet. Keep your knives sharp. Don’t leave your pans soaking in the sink for days. By keeping your cookware clean and well-cared for, it will last longer and be more effective at preparing whatever you are cooking.
Don’t crowd the pan
If you’re making a big batch of stir fry, or trying to saute vegetables in butter, don’t overcrowd your pan. If your potatoes are piling on top of each other, they won’t cook evenly, meaning some of your meal will end up overcooked or undercooked (or worse, both at once). Be sure to use the right sized pan for whatever you’re cooking, or if you’re making a large amount, cook it in small batches to make sure everything cooks evenly.
A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. Learn how to use your knives properly and it will improve your cooking (and reduce injuries along the way). One useful tip is to slice with the back of the blade, not the tip, and move the knife in a rolling motion. Also, never leave your fingertips flat when you’re cutting—hold whatever you’re cutting down with your knuckles so you don’t accidentally lose a finger.
Taste as you go
Nothing’s worse than cooking an entire meal only for it to be an utter failure once it hits the dinner table. It’s important to know how your food tastes as you’re cooking it. Keep some spare spoons nearby and have a taste test as you cook. This will help you figure out if you need to add more of certain spices or seasonings. Not sure if a certain spice will go well with your dish? Smell it as you taste what’s in the pan. The scent and flavors will mix, helping you decide if it’s a good fit.
Clean during down time
This final tip is more for efficiency’s sake than the actual quality of your food, but it can definitely save you some time in the long run. While the butter’s melting, or the water’s boiling, take the time to clean up any messes you’ve already made. This can be especially helpful if you need to use a pan twice for two different parts of the meal. It will also save you from having to do so much cleaning up after you’ve eaten. No one likes thinking about the cleanup chores while they’re trying to enjoy their dinner.