Cooking is a science that requires a lot of time and effort to truly master the ins and outs of the kitchen. However, there are a few handy tidbits that everyone should be aware of. The following includes a list of five helpful hacks.
5. Crack Eggs on a Flat, Hard Surface
Eggs are the building blocks of most breakfast dishes as well as pastries. In most cases, you’ll probably want to crack an egg in a way so you don’t break off any bits of the shell, burst open the egg yolk, or contaminate any of your other food preparation(s) with egg whites or yolk. Crack your egg on a flat, hard surface – NOT on the edge of a bowl – before opening it up above your mixture. Not only will this keep any egg dribble from entering separate ingredients, it also avoids any possible bowl backflips (though for the latter, you’d have to be impressively bad at cooking to pull that off).
4. Flatten Chicken Breast in a Ziploc Bag
Whether you’re making chicken Milanese or chicken tenders, you’re most likely going to pound your poultry with an appropriate mallet so that the chicken can easily fry on both sides. Unless you’re willing to have chicken bits fly across your kitchen, you’ll probably want to cover up the meat with some sort of plastic protection. While Saran wrap is a viable option, try placing the chicken in a Ziploc bag – this minimizes the chances of any wear and tear and keeps your chicken entirely intact without the hassle of having to constantly reposition the plastic.
3. Mince Garlic with a Microplane
Sure, garlic can be cut into tiny pieces using a handful of knives, but a quicker way to mince it up is to use a Microplane grater. This kitchen utensil is used for grating various smaller items such as nutmeg and ginger. With a Microplane, garlic instantly transforms into a fine puree that can be easily combined with the rest of your ingredients. If no Microplane is available, try using a regular cheese grater.
2. Add Salt When Boiling Pasta
Salt is the cornerstone for nearly every piece of seasoning; when in doubt, always add salt – especially if you have nothing but bare ingredients for a dish. When it comes to the Italian stapled, salted water flavors the pasta from the inside out as the pasta absorbs the water, leading to tastier pasta. In fact, salted water is the only method of flavoring the pasta itself, and it’s a necessary step that shouldn’t be neglected. For measuring, roughly one tablespoon (or a chunky pinch) for a pound of pasta can make a difference between savory spaghetti and wet noodles. Two final key points: stay away from iodized salt and add it once the water fully comes to a boil.
1. Cut Forward with a Knife, Don’t Crush Downward
Arguably, one of the most important techniques you could improve in the kitchen is proper knife handling. When cutting into certain foods (ex: onions, tomatoes), you want to slice into them in a forward, sweeping motion – preferably with your other hand holding the food stationary. While chopping down willy-nilly like Bobby Flay might impress novices, you want to avoid crushing your knife into your food because you will most likely end up with inadequate portions that are not fully separated along with crushed food that has lost most of its juices.
All of these tips and more are covered in Classic Cooking Academy’s Practical Series. For more information, click here.