When it comes to cooking, we all have our own little tricks or methods that can make the experience and finished product much more enjoyable. Sharing and learning these tips from other cooks only enhances this. A prompt on Reddit asked chefs to share their expertise, revealing their most valuable tips and tricks that every cook should know. Here are some of the best responses.
Learning To Make Roux.
"The Roux is probably one of the most useful things in cooking; it's used as base for sauces. Heat up a few tbs of butter in a saucepan and stir in an equal amount of flour. Once it is thick and frothy you can add a liquid of your choice for the base of your sauce (milk or chicken stock are my favorites), add as much as necessary to reach your desired consistency. Add spices or melt cheese to make a great cheese sauce. Be creative!"
Using The Right Oil.
"Different oils for different types of cooking since they all have different smoke points. Seems really simple but few (like me for awhile) never knew this and did dumb stuff like using olive oil for everything. Most olive oil is for light cooking or really just flavoring. Something like canola or vegetable for general cooking. For high-heat (fillets and stuff that need a sear), use grape seed or sunflower."
How To Use Your Knife.
"Chop with the rear part of the blade, not the tip, in a rolling motion."
Knowing Exactly What Seasoning To Add.
"Smell the seasoning you want to add while tasting. It's the opposite effect of plugging your nose so you don't taste things. The flavors will combine and you'll know if the seasoning is going to work before adding it."
The Two Key Things All Professional Chefs Do.
"The best advice I've gotten is that the main two differences between a restaurant chef and a home cook, other than training and basic cooking knowledge/skills, is that the chef will season (salt) much more generously. Second and most importantly, CLEAN AS YOU GO. You will become so much more efficient in the kitchen, will always have space to work, and will have very little cleaning work to do when you're finished cooking!"
How To Cook A Perfect Steak Every Time.
"Make sure your steak is dry, use a paper towel to dry it off. Heat the skillet before putting the steak on, you want to hear it sizzle when you place it in the pan. Rub the steak down with just a little olive oil and some sea salt and then place it in the pan until it starts browning, then put in the oven at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or even less depending on how rare you like it. It always tastes fantastic." For more detailed instructions check here.
Season All Components Of The Dish.
"Cooking Chicken Alfredo? Season the chicken, season the pasta, season the sauce. Never assume that one flavor element will permeate the whole dish. The difference between a $1 plate of pasta and a $12 plate of pasta is putting the right amount of salt in the water."
Get Prepared Before You Start Cooking.
"Don't start cooking until your mise en place is completely squared away. Get out ever knife, tool, and pan you will need. Measure out all of your ingredients, and put all of them on the counter next to your stove. When you are on step 1 of your recipe, you should know what steps 2 and 3 are. With most recipes, you don't have time to go back to the cookbook to double-check what you're doing while your chicken dries up into leathery bits in the pan. Plan ahead, and make sure you're ready to finish your dish before you start it."
Peanut Butter Is For More Than Your Sandwich.
Take Food Off The Heat Before It’s Done.
"Food continues to cook even off the heat." (This applies to your meat on the grill to scrambled eggs in a pan to those cookies in the oven).
How To Keep Pork Chops From Curling.
"When making pork chops cut the ribbon of fat so that it is in pieces instead of one long piece. It prevents the chop from curling in the pan and cooking unevenly."
How To Accurately Measure.
The Importance Of Matching Flavors.
"Match flavors. If you're cooking something with bacon, use the bacon fat to sauté your vegetables. Cook a steak with butter. Use white wine if the food you're cooking is light in color. Use red wine if the food is dark in color. Don't use butter if you're cooking vegetarian. Don't add chicken stock to a beef based dish. (There are, or course, some exceptions to this rule.)"
Never Underestimate The Importance Of A Sharp Knife.
"Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives."
Don’t Slack On Presentation.
"A nice, clean, warm plate can make the difference between an OK meal, and a great meal. Most restaurants I've worked in aren't serving anything special, they just serve it in a way that makes it look special. If you treat your homemade stuff like it was in a five-star restaurant, you can make Hamburger Helper taste like scratch-made casserole."
Making Your Own Easy Sauces.
"Learn how to cook at least three sauces from memory with every day ingredients. A red wine sauce (cup or so of red wine, some butter, salt, onions and pepper) can turn any cheap steak into a great meal. Simple marinara can be made for under $10 bucks, and is just as good as the $20 pasta you get at Maggiano's. Find some recipes you like, and memorize them."
How To Perfectly Crisp Your Veggies And Potatoes.
"Whatever you're sautéing, don't crowd the pan. Get a bigger pan or cook in batches but the reason your potatoes/veggies/etc. aren't getting brown and crispy is because they're drowning in their own juice."
Butter Makes Everything Better.
"Use real butter, it's a mistake to even have margarine on hand"
How To Make The Best Burger.
"When grilling burgers, make a small dent on the top of the patty with your thumb. When they cook, they'll stay flat, rather than shrinking and getting very tall in the middle. Also, don't play with the meat/squish it too much. It destroys the protein and it looses a lot of juices while cooking."
Don’t Forget The Salt And Pepper.
"SALT AND PEPPER!!!!!! I honestly don't know how so many people can cook without salt and pepper. Whenever anything or anyone says season the food, only use salt and pepper. I usually use Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper. White, green, red and black peppers are just varying degrees of ripeness or the peppercorn fruit. PROTIP- White pepper powder cauterized wounds without any burning or stinging."
How To Make A Perfect Dish Every Time.
"Always, ALWAYS taste your food while cooking. I always have like 5 spoons beside me while cooking. This allows you to accurately adjust seasoning, flavors, and cooking time. It is tough at first to know what to adjust, but you get better at it with time and it will really improve the quality of food you make (especially over-salting)."