I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking up ways to be a better cook. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in my abilities – everyone eats what I make, so it can’t be that bad! But I always find myself wondering if it would have been better to change the order, add a new ingredient or use a different tool. Whether you are just learning to make your first meals from scratch or you’ve owned the kitchen for years, here are some of the best ways to be a better cook and instantly improve your cooking.
This sounds like one of the most obvious ways to be a better cook, but not many people actually do it, and it really works! Avoid finding out that you are missing a vital ingredient, or rushing around in a complete panic, by sorting your ingredients out first. And I don’t mean just loading them up on the side, either: actually prepare your ingredients, such as chopping up vegetables, before you start cooking. Known as mise en place, which translates as “everything in place,” this method is definitely worth turning into a habit. Just stock up on stylish glass or ceramic bowls to hold your ingredients in until you need them.
Do you have a herb rack in your kitchen? I’d been cooking for a good few months before I invested in one, and I was more drawn to the stylish wooden design than the actual herbs! Sprinkling a dried herb or spice over a dish is quick and easy, but have you ever noticed how much better the fresh versions taste? I’ve been using fresh garlic, ginger, basil and parsley for the past few days, and everyone has noticed the difference. Give it a try – it’s not as hard as you’d think, and it really will take your cooking to the next level.
Everyone has a messy fridge, right?! Unpacking shopping is time consuming, and not the best fun, so ramming fridge products wherever they will fit is completely natural. Spending a few minutes organizing your fridge will make choosing meals much easier, though, and prevent wastage. On a basic level, split the fridge into sections – dairy in the door, protein on one shelf, drinks on one shelf and so on. If you are feeling extra organized, try arranging by date, with the shortest product lives on the left. It takes a few restocks to really get into the habit, but it’s a great way to speed up cooking and reduce stress.
Ever wondered why roast dinners in restaurants taste so different to the ones at home? It’s due to letting the meat air dry. Roast beef, for example, should be allowed to air in the fridge for 36 hours immediately before roasting. This helps the meat sear properly, and cooks in that delicious flavor. Invest in a suitably sized container that will fit in your fridge, and start unwrapping your food the day before you cook it. Everyone will taste the difference!
Roast chicken is a great everyday meal. You can pick up fresh, pre-roasted chickens from supermarkets and markets, and they are pretty easy to roast yourself, too. You can even turn a large chicken into a variety of meals – have it with a simple side like potatoes or rice to begin with, then make chicken enchiladas, pasta with chicken or chicken salad, and use any remaining meat in a delicious soup. Take your roasting to the next level by inserting fresh herbs between the skin and meat, which will infuse during cooking.
Want to give your meals a delicious aroma, and an intense flavor? Try toasting your spices and grains before adding them. It’s a tip that’s used by many top chefs, and it’s very easy to do. Just add the spice or grain to a dry sauté pan, and toast for a few minutes before adding to the recipe. The nutty flavor that’s released is to die for!
This has to be one of the easiest ways to be a better cook – it takes seconds, and will soon become a habit. Invest in a few low-salt chicken or vegetable stocks, or learn how to make them yourself. Then, use them instead of water when cooking rice or grains. It works exactly the same as water, but will infuse the rice will extra flavor, and give a delicious appearance too. Win!
Of course, there is a whole variety of other ways to be a better cook, too – I’ve been inundated with advice and tips, from slicing vegetables to all be the same size to having a permanent stock of pasta and dried chili flakes. I’ll definitely be trying them all, too! Cooking is so much more enjoyable when it’s done right. Do you have any tips on becoming a better cook? I’d love to hear them!
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