Beginner Cooking Tips
One of the biggest mistakes every beginner makes in the kitchen is that they simply don’t read thoroughly enough. The old saying “If you can read, you can cook” really does have some truth behind it. Assuming you can read a recipe and follow the directions accordingly, you can essentially cook. The best and most creative dishes might not come from adhering strictly to a recipe, but it’s one of the best tips any beginner should keep in mind. As you become more advanced in the kitchen you can proceed to start getting more creative. But, in order to reach that point you should follow some of these beginner cooking tips.
Read Recipes Ahead Of Time. Twice.
Most beginners find an enticing recipe, skim it quickly and start cooking. We’ve all done it. Gave it a quick read and thought that’s good enough! What ends up happening most of the time? An epic failure. It’s not only important to read a recipe before you start cooking, it’s just as important to read while you’re cooking. Why? Some recipes might have ingredients hidden further down in the instructions. Others may have an important step such as “marinate overnight” which you’ll definitely want to know about well ahead of time. There might even be something you need and don’t currently have. Knowing ahead of time will assure you can get out and purchase it before you ever enter the kitchen. To cook like a real chef you need to first read, read and then read again.
Don’t Overcrowd Your Pan Or Baking Dish.
Always remember that foods will release moisture as they cook. When pans are crowded, your food will start to steam itself rather than brown and that changes the texture of it. Something like a potato in the oven might not be as crisp while and your meat also won’t brown. That means you need to give your food ample room inside the pan, especially when browning or baking things that need to be crisp (such as french fries or breaded chicken). If your pan is too small then it’s recommended you cook in batches. Unless the recipe calls instructs you to do it, don’t steam your food by cramming too much together.
Purchase A Good Chef’s Knife.
If there is one kitchen tool out there which every beginner chef should invest in, it’s a good knife. These can also be called a cook’s knife and they’re sure to save you lots of time. A good kitchen knife can greatly improve cutting technique while it also cuts through almost anything with ease. A good chef’s knife must be sharp and feel good in your hand. Those with smaller hands should be use a 6-7″ knife and those with larger hands should consider an 8-10″ knife.
Don’t Leave The Kitchen.
Okay, this one might seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve all done it. Your meal is cooking and you’ve got a few spare minutes to go put that new load of laundry in. Sure, you can go ahead and do that. But it’s risky. Most of the time nothing bad will happen, but other times you’re going to come back and find a burnt meal. Once you’ve become a more experienced cook you may understand which points in the cooking process you can bend this rule. But, as a beginner you should always be in the kitchen keeping a close eye on whatever you’re making.
Rest The Meal After Cooking
Always rest your meal! I could sit here and write for an hour about all of the different scientific facts behind does this, but instead will just summarize it. When meat is cooking, moisture moves outward towards the edges of the meat. If you cut into it right away, all the juices will spill out. By letting your meat rest instead, the juices will move back towards the center of the meat. That puts them in your belly as opposed to your plate. So, exactly how long should your meat rest? That really depends on the size of the meat. For steaks, 3-5 minutes is good. For roasts, 10-20 minutes is sufficient. Large turkeys should rest a good 30-45 minutes and they’ll still be steaming when you carve into them!
Hopefully these tips have taught you something new and you’ll be more prepared next time you enter the kitchen. It takes time for beginners to learn everything that goes into making a good meal. However, with some practice you’ll eventually be good enough to let your imagination go wild. Enjoy!