10 Tips to Cook and Think Like a Chef

A restaurant kitchen is sometimes referred to as “choreographed chaos.” A chef and his kitchen staff must operate quickly to expedite well-made meals. To keep up with the high-paced dance of cooking, chefs have go-to tricks. These trade secrets will help you think like a chef and benefit your home cooking with some of the behind the scenes secrets.

1. Read through the recipe ahead of time. This will keep you composed so you can think of the steps to make your time efficient.

2. Everything in place. This means that before you cook, have your ingredients ready. Everything must be measured, peeled and chopped. If baking, your pans should be greased. Cookware should be out and ready to be grabbed. Set up is key to stopping you from running around and looking for a whisk, while your sauce has just burned.

3. Invest in a sharp knife. A cook’s knife is multi-purpose and very useful. Choose a knife that is comfortable in your hand. Keep it sharp as a dull knife is dangerous. Added force to cutting adds more risk to the knife slipping and cutting you.

4. Taste as you cook. You should know how the dish tastes, it might need a dash of pepper or a squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of vinegar.

5. Salt it. Since you’re cooking with fresh ingredients, a great chef will use salt to bring out the flavors of the dish. But lose the salt shaker and put kosher salt into a small prep bowl for even control.

6. Tongs are a must-have. They are an extension of your hands. You will use these for everything from flipping steaks, pulling a pan out of the oven, stabilizing meat while slicing to serving spaghetti—the list goes on and on.

7. Cook with a 1:1 ratio of butter and oil. Butter adds the rich flavor to the dish and the oil stops the butter from burning.

8. Sear and finish in the oven. Chefs sear all meats, chicken and fish in a pan and then place it in the oven. This frees up space on the burners and produces a moist result. Remember not to overcrowd your pan, which leads to steaming instead of caramelizing.

9. When baking, only mix until all your ingredients are incorporated. Over mixing will lead to toughness. Only mix until the batter comes together.

10. Clean as you go. This simple tip makes a good chef, a great chef! Avoid the mess on the counter and use a big bowl to put scraps in. Wipe down your cutting board in between items. Always keep your area clean and organized so you are ready for the next cooking task.

From our kitchen to yours…Cucina Felice!

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Michele at Chef's
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