I subscribe to Food Network Magazine, which is awesome.
Recently they printed this list of the 100 best kitchen tips from top chefs around the country, and while some of them were tried and true — “Take away the stress by doing the prep the night or day before,” (Paula Deen) and “The smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature,” (Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery) — others were truly inspired and I had to share my favorites here.
The tips I’m definitely going to use:
- Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor. ~ Rick Tramonto, Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood, Osteria di Tramonto and RT Lounge, Wheeling, IL
- If you find you need more oil in the pan when sautéing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated. ~ Anita Lo, Annisa, New York City
- When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around. ~ Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery & Cafe, Boston
- Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat. ~ Donald Link, Cochon and Herbsaint, New Orleans
- After cutting corn off the cob, use the back side of a knife (not the blade side) to scrape the cob again to extract the sweet milk left behind. This milk adds flavor and body to any corn dish. ~ Kerry Simon, Simon, Las Vegas and Simon LA
- Anytime you are using raw onions in a salsa and you are not going to eat that salsa in the next 20 minutes or so, be sure to rinse the diced onions under cold running water first, then blot dry. This will rid them of sulfurous gas that can ruin fresh salsa. It’s really important in guacamole, too. ~ Mark Miller, Coyote Cafe, Santa Fe, NM
- When you’re browning meat, you should blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn’t release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown crust. ~ Charlie Palmer, Charlie Palmer Group
- To get nice, crispy caramelization on roasted vegetables, simulate the intense heat of an industrial oven: Bring your oven up as hot as it goes, then put an empty roasting or sheet pan inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables — try carrots or Brussels sprouts — with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the hot pan. This method will give you the high heat you need to caramelize the sugars in the vegetables quickly. ~ Naomi Pomeroy, Beast, Portland, OR
- Don’t overcrowd the pan when you’re sautéing — it’ll make your food steam instead. ~ Ryan Poli, Perennial, Chicago
- Fresh basil keeps much better and longer at room temperature with the stems in water. ~ Elisabeth Prueitt, Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
- Prolong the lifespan of greens by wrapping them loosely in a damp paper towel and placing in a resealable plastic bag. That local arugula will last about four days longer. ~ Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten, Athens, GA
- When cooking eggplant, I like to use the long, skinny, purple Japanese kind because you don’t have to salt it to pull out the bitter liquid like you do with the larger Italian variety. ~ Andrew Carmellini, Locanda Verde and The Dutch, New York City
- Caramelize onions very quickly by cooking them in a dry nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. They will caramelize beautifully in a lot less time than with traditional methods. ~ Michael Mina, Bourbon Steak and Michael Mina restaurants