I’m no chef. But after years of working in restaurants and cooking family dinners, I’ve picked up a few tips on how to be a better cook. Recently, I started sharing a few pictures on Instagram on food I’ve prepared as well as food I enjoyed while eating out. Cooking is one of my skills all men should have in the 21st Century, so I thought I would offer up some of the things I’ve learned over the years. I definitely want to encourage people to chime in on this one in the comments below. If you’ve got a great tip or a favorite recipe, please share!
1. Turn down the heat.
I stick between medium and medium-high. I think most people think hotter equals faster, but in reality that’s usually just a good way to burn your dinner. With the exception of some more advanced cooking, extreme temperatures, in either direction, are not as useful to the casual cook.
2. Don’t try to be a Michelin chef.
Start simple and learn. I like to think of that scene in Hitch when Will Smith teaches Kevin James to dance. Stick with the 2-step. Get some basics under your belt. Anything cooked at home is an experience, so there is no need to go crazy. It will all be fun.
3. Prep everything beforehand.
I never believe a recipe that says chop X while Y cooks. This is the biggest lie in cookbooks. I like having everything ready to go. If I’m at home, I'm going to be disturbed. So I never rely on those small windows to do extra prep. Someone is going to interrupt me then, so I plan ahead for those interruptions by being totally prepared.
4. Use room temperature meat
Food at room temperature cooks more evenly. Cold meat right from the fridge burns on the outside and stays cold in the middle. I pull everything out at least an hour before hand, even before I start any of my food prep.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
I almost never get a recipe right the first time. Like all skills, cooking is a learning process. Additionally, all recipes need tweaking due to differences in cooking equipment, ingredients, and even climate. Cooking is supposed to be fun. Don’t get frustrated.
If you’re interested in a great cookbook to get you started (and one that helps you learn), this book was extremely helpful and the recipes are great!
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