Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Advice from a Pro

Lamb chops perfectly cooked and sauced at a restaurant in Arles, France.
What I think I should be striving for!
Some tips and tricks for better cooking aren't that complicated! Chef Noam Ben-Ami, identified as "Institut Paul Bocuse survivor, pop-up cook, food geek" has a list of professional suggestions for home cooks that I could live by -- and often do already, or at least try.

Here's a summary of his advice for improvement of kitchen utensils, food supplies, and techniques, with my comments:
  • Use the right amount of salt and the right amount of fat for the kind of cooking you want to do.
  • Don't use extra-virgin olive oil for cooking. (I'm guilty of this one, big time! But I think there are other chefs who don't agree on this point.)
  • Let just-cooked meat rest before carving to preserve the juices, which will run out if you are too impatient. (I try, really I do. I actually use a timer.)
  • Keep your hands and work surfaces clean, and keep cleaning and straightening your workspace during prep. (I'm pretty good at this.)
  • Don't overcook anything -- his examples: "beautiful salmon fillets ...carrots, green beans, steak, anything at all." Also pasta: "Please, cook your lovely pasta al-dente."
  • Avoid poor-quality ingredients. (I'm with him on this, and try to keep informed about the issue, which isn't in fact that easy! He doesn't mention that high price isn't always a guarantee of high quality.)
  • Sharpen your knives and keep them sharp. (Honestly, the sharper my knives are the more I cut myself. I know, I know, they say it's the opposite. Sorry, not sorry.)
  • Use big enough cutting boards made of wood like end-cut maple. (Maybe a big wooden cutting board should be on my wish list.)
  • Don't waste the good stuff that comes out of roasted meat: "Strain that beautiful liquid, let it rest in a narrow container, drain off the fat, then make the remains into a sauce or just pour them on the chicken or on rice. Same goes for deglazing pans in which beef or pork was cooked. ... Learning how to get some basic saucing done will rock your world."


Tania Cusack said...

Hi Mae, thats all very good advise to follow. I use extra virgin for everything. Probably shouldn't but I just can't help myself!
Tania| mykitchenstories.com.au

Tania Cusack said...

I tried to leave a comment Mae. Did you get it? Tania

Mae Travels said...

Tania -- I have to prescreen comments or I'm deluged by spammers. So yours definitely made it to me.
... mae

Kitchen Riffs said...

Good list, and I'm pleased to say I follow most of them. I do use poly cutting boards -- aren't as nice to cut on, but you can sanitize them int he dishwasher. I'll cook with extra virgin olive oil if the dish is just getting heated briefly. Otherwise I tend to use "pure" olive oil. But I go back and forth on this. And I do cut myself more with dull knives than with sharp. But I don't cut myself all that often. I read someplace that most cooks are either cutters or burners -- and I do burn myself, a lot.