Watching the Great British Menu or Masterchef it’s easy to dismiss some of what the contestants get up to as ‘chefy’, but you might find their little tricks as useful in your own kitchen. And they’re not necessarily that difficult to learn either. A quick internet tutorial or YouTube video can have you chopping like a pro and whipping up a reduction in no time.
Sharpen those knife skills
Chopping is something we do for most recipes and generally don’t think that much about. Upping your knife skills is a good way to make food better and the whole process less stressful. After all, cutting a vegetable into even pieces will mean it cooks properly and will look less like a pile of carrots on a plate and more like a proper side dish.
If you don’t know your jardiniere from your batonet, watch this video from Bon Apetite. Showcasing 25 different knives and 47 separate skills, what this guy doesn’t know about chopping isn’t worth knowing.
Learn how to make a reduction
A sauce can make or break a dish, so it’s important to get it right. A reduction is just a fancy pants sauce and is thickened by evaporating the water off as you heat it. As the water disappears the flavours become more intense, leaving you with a delicious concoction to smother your meat in.
To learn the principles of making a reduction, take a look at the Reluctant Gourmet’s tips. Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll be able to mix it up a bit and knock up a reduction for loads of different meals.
Start searing your meat
Most people choose a way to cook their meat and get on with it, but you’ve probably noticed on telly that chefs often bung theirs in a hot pan before transferring to the oven. This is called searing and might seem like a pain, but is a good way to lock in your meat’s moisture.
The Spruce Eats has a lot to say on searing and a handy video to help you learn the technique. Turns out a couple of minutes in a hot pan can really up your meat game – who knew?! Invest in the right pan for the job and you’ll find you get great results every time.
Blanch your vegetables
Vegetables are often the forgotten heroes of a meal that are there because you know you really should be making an effort to have your five-a-day. But they can be really tasty if you cook them right, so start blanching them to get the most out of your beans and carrots.
Watch this video from the Official Hungry to see how the technique is done right. Your veggies will keep their vibrant colours and taste delicious. Even if it seems like an over-complicated way to cook your veg, you’ll soon be a convert.
Discover the art of tempering chocolate
Tempering chocolate certainly seems like some kind of dark art, with specific temperatures and constant stirring, but it’s not that hard when you know how – no, really, it’s true. Get it right and your desserts will look pro with no sign of those dreaded white blotches on your dipped strawberries and cake decorations.
Learn about the principles of tempering, invest in a thermometer (that’s quite important) and master the technique with Pretty Witty Cakes. Then you can look disapprovingly at others who have simply melted some Dairy Milk and thrown it on their cupcakes next time you’re at a bake sale.