5 Cooking Skills That Will Up Your Kitchen Game, According to Professional Chefs
Make Sauce the Star
A versatile flavor booster will take even the most basic dish to the next level, and it doesn't need to be complicated. This herby version used in this Grilled Shrimp with Salsa Verde is a refreshing bite of parsley, cilantro, and mint, and it requires no cooking. Experiment with different spices, chiles, garlic, and olive oil, and finish with a touch of acid.
Pro tip: Soaking scallions and onions in acid like vinegar or lemon juice, even for a minute, softens their sharpness.
Put Faith In Your Marinade
It's the quickest way to add depth. Start the marinade for this Rosemary-Grapefruit Marinated Pork Tenderloin and Beets with olive oil and follow with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to tenderize, onion for richness, herbs or spices for complexity, mustard for savory notes, and finally a sweetener like honey to caramelize.
Pro tip: If you prefer a deep, dark crust on your pork, sear it on the stove instead.
Balance Flavors and Textures
Every good dish nails the perfect combo of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy, plus crunchy, chewy, creamy, and tender. The best way to master this is by composing a great salad, like this Celery Root Salad with Asian Pear and Poppy Seed Yogurt Dressing.
Pro tip: Taste as you create, noticing where to add more acid to balance the oil and nuts to add meatiness to the veggies.
Caramelize Your Roasted Vegetables
It's the golden, crunchy exterior that makes squash, brussels sprouts, and root veggies slightly sweet and totally addictive in this Roasted Vegetables with Prosciutto Crisps and Fresh Figs.
Pro tip: First, preheat the baking pan so your foot hits a hot surface and gets a sear. Then place the pan with the veggies on the floor of the oven, which provides the most direct heat to cause caramelization.
Amp Up a Simple Pasta
You add decadence by doing as the Italians do and undercooking your pasta—even less than al dente—then tossing the noodles in simmering sauce. This will make the pasta actually soak up the goodness so that the flavor is bold and intensified.
The tip: Pick the right pot. If you don't have a large, deep skillet, use a Dutch-oven or a wide pot. You need plenty of room to toss the pasta in this Linguine with Spicy Italian Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Pecorino.
(Try these pasta recipes with the tips you just learned.)