THE FIVE SKILLS THAT EVERY COOK NEEDS TO KNOW
From home cooks to professional chefs, all cooks use the same five basic techniques to create fantastic meals that will please the palate of any critic – even your own children! To help you become a whiz in the kitchen, here are the five skills that you need to know, along with a delicious recipe for you to try at home.
Whether you are chopping a carrot or fresh herbs, a basic understanding of culinary knife skills should be the first thing you master in the kitchen. Efficient and accurate skills, such as how to dice or julienne, will be the difference between making your time in the kitchen a chore or a joyful breeze. Learning proper knife skills will help to make your dishes cook evenly, your flavors develop in a consistent manner, and your time in the kitchen much more relaxed. Learning proper knife skills should be the number one skill every growing chef should learn.
Sautéing is a method of cooking proteins with direct, very high heat. It’s extremely efficient, uses a minimal amount of oil or fat, and achieves absolutely delicious results. Our favorite uses of sautéing include creating a delectable chicken breast or scallop in only a few minutes flat. Learning to sauté will help you make absolutely tasty proteins in those few seconds available between getting home from work and needing to get a meal on the table – a tool that should be available to every aspiring chef!
Learning how to properly roast will instantly make it your preferred method for cooking larger proteins. Ideal for cooking a delicious prime rib or an impeccable halibut steak, roasting uses the heat in the air inside the oven to evenly and thoroughly cook meats without burning the skin or drying out the meat. This method allows the fats to gently break down to infuse the meat with incredible flavor and the perfect amount of moisture. When you learn to properly roast a good piece of meat, it will make even a grown man weep tears of joy. (Are you drooling yet?)
Most people are familiar with blanching from their history of cooking spaghetti or quickly cooking up some broccoli in a pot of boiling water. While there are a variety of different ways to blanch based on if your ingredient is a root vegetable, grain, or green vegetable, there are a few consistencies. Salted water is brought to a boil or simmer, which is when your cooking time begins (not before.) Once your ingredient is cooked through, you have the option to serve it immediately or to transfer it to a container of ice water to stop the cooking process and maintain the color. Blanching is a relatively simple process, but it is a method that will help you cook vegetables and specific grains that will make your mouth water.
Sorry to get scientific over here, but emulsification is what happens when you are able to combine two or more liquids that usually don’t mix well together. Picture oil and water – as much as you shake them and try to combine them, they’ll just fall back apart once you let them sit still for a bit. So to “emulsify” is to blend or to whisk the ingredients together so that their atoms actually combine into one, delicious creation. Picture a vinaigrette that doesn’t fall apart or mayonnaise where you know every ingredient and love adding it to every dish possible. That is the power of learning emulsification.
RECIPE FROM OUR WORKSHOP “BASIC SKILLS EVERY COOK SHOULD KNOW”
We feel so strongly that these skills are necessary for every cook to know that we teach a workshop purely on them. We dive down to the details of each technique and teach our students everything they need to know to make their time in the kitchen enjoyable and time-effective. It’s not about learning the recipes (though that is a benefit), it’s about learning the methods so that you can use them for years to come!
But, if you’re feeling like you want to want to try out one of these recipes today, then below is one of our most popular recipes from this workshop.
CLASSIC VINAIGRETTE (EMULSIFICATION)
This recipe is a perfect start so that you can stop buying bottled salad dressings and start making your own at home. No additives, cheaper, and you can start experimenting with flavors at home by using different vinegars, oils, and flavorings!
1 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra‑virgin olive oil
In the bottom of a salad bowl, combine the shallot, Dijon mustard, vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix well with a whisk.
While whisking, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as preferred.
For simple salads, the dressing should be tossed with the lettuce in a large mixing bowl and served immediately. Salad greens should be washed and well dried to allow the dressing to adhere to the leaves.
To learn more about our signature workshop “Basic Skills Every Cook Should Know” or to book your spot, click here.