This year has been a great year for me to learn how to cook. It’s been so nice to have an actual kitchen and now that I use Plated, I’ve been picking up cooking skills I didn’t think I could ever do. The first time I cooked a steak was honestly one of my proudest moments. I used to feel hopeless in the kitchen and every night I cook dinner I feel a little more confident. Honestly Louisa nails these tips… they seem kind of intimidating, but you can totally master them and feel like a pro! (This summer, I’m going to get better about using the grill!)
5 Essential Cooking Techniques Every 20-Something Should Know
Guest post by Louisa from Living Lou
There are so many cooking techniques and methods out there, but through my experience working in a professional test kitchen as well as in my own kitchen at home, I’ve come up with my top ten essential cooking techniques that everyone 20-something should know. Here I’ve shared the first part and will share the second part next time. If you aren’t familiar with all of these techniques, don’t worry, I’ve got a simple recipe for each so you can get your feet wet. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect summer project?
Searing is commonly used for building flavor. It requires the pan to be set over high heat to quickly brown the surface of meat to caramelize and build flavor. A cast-iron pan is often used for this, but a simple stainless steel pan will work as well (avoid using non-stick pans for searing). To get the perfect sear, coat the pan with a neutral oil with a high smoke point (canola oil is a great choice) and cook the meat in batches.
Tip: Avoid over-crowding the pan as this will steam the meat instead of sear it.
Try it: The chicken gets seared first in this one-pot curried chicken with rice and kale
There are actually two ways you can grill food: direct heat and indirect heat. The direct heat method cooks foods directly on heated grates while the indirect method uses residual heat (from a heated zone on one side of the barbecue) to cook food. The direct heat method is used when you want to get that perfect char on vegetables (I love charred corn as an add-in to salads), or for getting a perfect golden crust (and those gorgeous grill-marks) on a burger or steak. Indirect grilling is a great choice for pizza or items that will require a longer cook time.
Try it: Grill up some healthier Greek-inspired turkey burgers studded with feta
Most soups and stews start with sautéed aromatics, which browns the vegetables and enhances flavor. Sautéing is a technique that cooks food fast keeping flavors vivid and is perfect for highlight seasonal produce. To sauté food, whether it’s a vegetable or chicken, set a pan over high heat and coat with a small amount of fat and stir frequently.
Roasting is one of the simplest cooking techniques for cooking large cuts of meat or heartier vegetables (though tender vegetables do really well at a high-temperature like 450F). Roasting is a dry cooking method which involves cooking food uncovered in a pan while dry, hot air surrounds the food, cooking it on all sides. You can roast foods at a low, moderate or high heat. Being able to cook a classic roast chicken is a must for everyone.
Try it: Use this technique for something a little different: roasted radishes
Macerating is such a simple technique that seems like it’s something fancy. Macerating involves soaking fruit (it can be fresh or dried) in a flavored liquid like vinegar or liquor or sprinkling fruit with sugar, creating a syrup. Macerating results in a soft, juicy fruit that’s the perfect way to highlight berries in the summer.
Try it: A simple dessert or breakfast, macerated strawberries