How do chefs get their meat so perfectly juicy and their pasta cooked to a turn? They get taught these 16 cooking tricks in culinary school – and now you can learn their secrets too!
1. How to get Juicy Meat Every Time
If you’ve had chicken or pork chops in a restaurant, you may have wondered how the chefs keep them moist and juicy. They brine the meat – it’s not just for turkeys. Soaking the meat in cold, salted water infuses it with a rich flavor and juicy texture before it’s even cooked.
2. How to Get the Perfect Steak
Do you take your meat out of the refrigerator and put it straight on the grill? That’s not how the chefs do it. They take the steak out and let it sit for an hour or so at room temperature before cooking it. Having the meat at room temperature before you start cooking means it will cook more evenly.
3. Learn to Season Properly
One of the first things students in culinary school learn is to be generous with the salt. Without it, food tastes bland. If you’re worried about over-salting your food, then season with salt continuously through the cooking process, tasting as you go, rather than salting heavily at the beginning or end of cooking.
4. How to Make a Perfect Burger Patty
Do your homemade burger patties puff up in the middle when you cook them? Try this chef’s trick: toss the patty down hard on your chopping board to force the air bubbles out of it. Then, press an indent into the center of the patty. This will create a nice, even burger that won’t bubble when you cook it.
5. Make the fluffiest scrambled eggs
We also recommends seasoning your scrambled eggs with kosher salt at the end of the cooking process to keep them moist and fluffed and at the perfect consistency.
6. A rasp grater is your best friend
Melissa Knific, former Recipe Developer at HelloFresh, is a big fan of the rasp grater, which is basically a small, hand-held grater. According to Knific, you can use your rasp grater to do everything from zesting a lemon, to grating garlic, shallots, cheese, nutmeg—even chocolate!
7. Perfectly crispy bacon is made in the oven
A seasoned recipe developer, Knific has perfected the art of bacon. If you want that wonderfully crispy consistency, Knific says to ditch the frying pan and place your bacon strips evenly on a baking sheet lined with a metal rack. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. The sheet pan method allows fat to drip down and the heat to work its way all the way around the slices, creating crispiness.
8. Create a homemade spice mill
Got an old coffee grinder that you’re not using? Knific suggests recycling it into a spice mill. After washing all the coffee out of your grinder (really make sure you give it a good wash!), add whatever whole spices you desire, and pulse to reach the perfect consistency.
9. How to Make a Clear Broth
Making a clear and tasty chicken broth involves a lot of patience, but it’s worth it. Cook your chicken meat and bones in just enough water to cover them, for at least three hours. Keep the heat low, and skim off any frothy scum that floats to the top. Don’t add the vegetables straight away, but wait until the chicken has simmered for an hour or two hours before adding them. If you want a super-clear broth, strain the liquid through cheesecloth at the end of cooking.
10. Make Good Use of Olive Oil
This liquid gold can be used in pasta dishes, pizzas, fish and meat dishes to provide a kick of flavor, and add a silky finish. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil, and add a dollop to your cooking. Olive oil from different countries will have a different taste – Greek olive oil has a distinct taste, as does Italian. Experiment with a variety of oils.
11. How to Cook Perfectly Crusted Fish
You need heat to create that gorgeous crust on your fish. High temperatures will give you that sear that you’re looking for. Don’t overcrowd the pan, either. That will bring the temperature down and stop the fish from getting that golden crust.
12. Making the Tastiest Pasta
To get restaurant quality, beautifully flavored pasta, follow this tip. Before the pasta is fully cooked, transfer it to the sauce for the last couple of minutes of cooking. This helps the pasta absorb the flavor, and makes the sauce cling to it better. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the leftover pasta water until it reaches a smooth and silky texture.
13. Make a frothy coffee at home
If you love a frothy, creamy, coffee shop-style drink, but don’t want to spend all your money buying the fancy stuff, your blender is your best friend. Add your coffee and your milk of choice to your blender, let it whirr for about 30 seconds, and then pour out a piping hot, creamy blended drink!
14. Crack the perfect egg
Recipe developer, blogger, and health aficionado Ali Bonar has the perfect hack for easily cracking an egg. Instead of using the side of a bowl or the edge of a counter, crack your egg on a flat surface. This way, the shell is less likely to break into a million pieces, and you’re less likely to get a small piece of shell in your scrambled eggs or cake mix.
15. Frozen veggies are your friend
Even though fresh is best, frozen vegetables are often overlooked, and are great in a pinch (or during colder months when it’s hard to get seasonable produce). They can usually be substituted into almost any recipe.
16. Don’t forget to preheat
Taking time to preheat your skillet, your stove, or your grill will yield happy results—and flavor development. It’s important to introduce ingredients to a hot element right away to ensure caramelization (instead of steaming).