For seasoned chefs and kitchen newcomers alike, no one is perfect when it comes to cooking habits. Take a minute to read our list below–are you guilty of committing these common cooking crimes?
You Don’t Read the Recipe
Recipes. They don’t seem that complicated, right? Why bother reading the whole thing in advance? While it is tempting to skim before starting or just read the next line when you need to, this method is guaranteed to leave you caught off guard by a missed ingredient or an unfamiliar technique. So before you get started, thoroughly read your recipe and gather any ingredients or equipment you’ll need. Chefs call this mise en place, a French phrase that means “everything in its place.”
Your Cutting Board is Too Small
When it comes to cutting boards, bigger is unquestionably better. Small cutting boards are virtually useless in a functional kitchen. Aside from the mess you’ll make trying to cram your ingredients into a tiny space, the way they force you to stand and hold your knife can lead to hand cramps and cuts. Make sure you give yourself enough room to work–use the biggest board available to you, even for little jobs.
You Are Using the Wrong Knife
Speaking of knives, make sure you are using the correct knife for the task at hand. You wouldn’t use a cleaver to slice a loaf of bread, would you? A good rule of thumb is to select your knife based on what you will be doing: paring knives for small or delicate tasks like cutting berries, long serrated knives for bread, or a small serrated knife for slicing tomatoes. If you only have one good, sharp knife in your kitchen, select a standard chef’s knife–these bad boys are pretty much all-purpose, and you can use them for everything from fruit to meat.
You Crowd Your Pan
Much like cutting boards, just because you can cram everything into a small pan doesn’t mean you should. Making more room for your ingredients will help them cook evenly, brown properly, and keep them from drying out.
You’re Not Tasting or Seasoning as You Cook
To get the right balance of herbs, spices, and seasonings, it is imperative that you sample your recipe frequently as you cook, making adjustments as necessary. If you don’t taste as you go, you run the risk of bringing an under- or over-seasoned dish to the table.
If you are a devotee of Anthony Bourdain, then you already know his cardinal rule of meat cookery: don’t effing touch it; this applies to pretty much the whole process.
- Don’t cook your meat directly out of the fridge. Let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before throwing it on the fire to ensure that it will cook evenly and thoroughly.
- When you add your meat to the pan or the grill, don’t flip it. Just leave it alone. The more you move it, the longer it will take to cook and the less likely it is to get a good sear. Let it be until you can see a crust forming on the bottom and it releases from the pan easily with no sticking.
- After it is finished cooking, don’t cut it right away. Let it rest for at least five minutes after taking it off the heat. If you are worried about it cooling too quickly, you can tent some tin foil over the top.