Most of us just aren’t professional chefs. And while it may be unrealistic to think we’ll ever be a head chef at a five-star restaurant, we still sometimes want to treat our friends and family to exquisite home-cooked meals. Here are a few tips that can help you with your meal preparation process.
Don’t Be Afraid of Seasoning
Seasoning provides much-needed flavor to any dish. But relying only on simple salt and pepper to spice things up can leave your meals tasting bland. Instead, do some experimenting! Learn what herbs you like and don’t like. Learn which spices you prefer with which dishes. Get creative. And remember: Fresh is always best.
Prepare in Advance
If you like to go step-by-step through recipes, there may be a point when something needs to be prepared, then added (for instance, you need to dice a tomato before adding it to a sauce). But if you’re prepping as you go, you’re allowing that dish to cook without an ingredient for longer than intended, which can compromise the flavor. Do all of your prep work ahead of time so you can move through the recipe with ease.
Temper Your Food
Think about the way you prepare food. You may have taken a chicken or steak out of the freezer and thawed it in the sink, but if you returned the thawed meat to the refrigerator, you’ll want to leave it on the counter for a bit prior to cooking. Why? If you place meat from the fridge directly onto the pan, you could be changing the toughness of that meat. If you prefer tender cuts that melt in your mouth, avoid that fridge-to-pan mentality.
Avoid Pre-Prepared Foods
Sometimes store-bought guacamole is easier than making it on your own. But if you’re looking to improve your cooking skills, try to avoid those pre-prepared foods (and pre-cut vegetables/onions!).
Don’t Rush It, But Don’t Overcook It
Lastly, don’t rush the cooking process. You should be prepping in advance of your cooking. There’s no reason to zip through a recipe. Dishes will take as long as they need to cook, so pour yourself a glass of wine, play some music, and enjoy the journey. Keep an eye on those timers though, and set them early so you can check on how your meal is cooking.
Every meal that leaves your kitchen should taste exactly as you want it to. While skill comes with time and practice, implementing these techniques is sure to improve the quality of your dishes.