Here Are 10 Culinary School Secrets You Never Knew

October 12th, 2018

So many people think that they are amazing cooks…and so many people are wrong.

You don’t need to be a chef to be able to cook a simple meal, but there is definitely an art to making great food that everybody loves.

If you don’t want to spend a huge chunk of your life attending culinary school, but want your food to taste as though you had, you’ve come to the right place.

Below we have compiled a list of the top 10 secrets taught in culinary institutes to take your cooking game to the next level.

1. You Only Need One Ingredient To Spice Up Bland Foods; Salt

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Flickr/Thomas Brueckner Source: Flickr/Thomas Brueckner

We know, adding salt to your meals seems like a sin with all the information we have about the negative effects of high salt intake.

If you’re making meals from scratch with whole foods, though, you’re not going to find umpteen grams of sodium in the food, allowing you to have full control of the amount that goes into your meal.

If your food is tasting a bit bland, try adding salt before throwing in extra ingredients. The “secret” here is to actually add a small amount of salt during every phase of the cooking process, including at the end of the meal. This will maximize the flavor and keep the process simple.

2. Dry Your Meats Before Cooking Them

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Kitchn Source: Kitchn

This little-known tip makes all the difference. From fish to poultry, to red meat, patting your meat dry will help you get the picture-perfect, golden, crispy skin on the outside of your meat.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to pat the meat dry with a paper towel, you can let it dry in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to achieve the same effect.

3. Never Forget To Deglaze Your Pan

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Budget Bytes Source: Budget Bytes

A lot of people will wash out the sticky residue and burnt pieces from their pan after cooking to make a pan sauce. This alone will have any chef in the area cringing because you are essentially washing away everything that makes a pan sauce so flavorful.

To make a perfect pan sauce that compliments the flavor of your meal, you should always deglaze your pan to keep those delicious bits.

It may sound fancy, but it’s as simple as pouring a couple of cups of stock or wine into the pan and incorporating the residue in with your spatula.

4. Finish Your Sauces With Cold Butter

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Budget Bytes Source: Budget Bytes

So, you’ve deglazed your pan to make the perfect pan sauce, but the consistency isn’t quite what you want? One of the absolute best culinary secrets is to add in a few pats of cold butter towards the end.

Finishing your pan sauce with cold butter will allow the fat to slowly combine with the sauce, enhancing the texture as well as the flavor. This is how restaurants achieve that perfect texture and gloss in their sauces.

5. If You Want Perfectly Cooked Eggs, Use Low Heat

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Sophisticated Gourmet Source: Sophisticated Gourmet

As common as fried eggs at the breakfast table are, most people are cooking them the wrong way.

A lot of people believe that cooking their eggs on high or medium-high heat will make the eggs cook faster, and while it seems to work, you’re actually destroying the creamy texture and flavor that this household staple has to offer.

To make perfect eggs, you should actually cook them over low heat to avoid getting that tough, rubbery texture that comes with cooking them too fast. Just like when cooking bacon, patience is key.

6. Use Sugar To Balance The Flavor Of Unripened Tomatoes

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The Insider Tales Source: The Insider Tales

When you’re making tomato sauces, whether it be for pizza, spaghetti, or marinara, you should have sugar to hand.

If you are using tomatoes bought at a grocery store, chances are they aren’t quite fully ripened yet. This is especially true if you’re buying them out of season.

So, what do the chefs do to acquire that rich, full tomato flavor? They toss in a little bit of sugar to enhance and balance the flavors. This works on all savory veggies, including beets and roasted carrots.

7. Nuts And Spices Are Better When Toasted

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Thrive Market Source: Thrive Market

Everyone knows that any chef worth his salt has a battalion of nuts and spices in his kitchen to give their meals that extra oomph. What a lot of people don’t know, though, is that by toasting these ingredients before adding them in can seriously up your flavor game.

This is because heat tends to bring all those flavorful oils in the nuts and spices to the surface, so they pack more of a punch when added to your food.

For maximum flavor, toast spices by dry cooking them in a hot frying pan just until they begin to smell toasted and remove them from the heat immediately so they don’t burn. You can toast nuts by pouring them on a baking sheet in a single layer and putting them in a 350ºF oven for 10-15 minutes.

8. Enliven Your Dish With A Dash Of Acid

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The Hearty Soul Source: The Hearty Soul

If your food has a boring or “flat” taste to it, you can usually cure it with a quick squeeze of acid.

Whether it’s lemon juice, vinegar, or lime juice, the citric acid does wonders for your meal.

Similar to the effect of salt and sugar, some form of acid will balance the flavors of your food, allowing them to shine through the fats and bring your dish to life.

9. Finish Pasta Noodles In The Sauce

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Serious Eats Source: Serious Eats

Ever wonder how restaurants get their pasta to hold so much flavor and sauce? As it turns out, they have a secret for getting this effect.

Instead of boiling your pasta to completion in water, cook them until they are just a few minutes away from being done, and scoop out a cup of the pasta water before you strain it. Then add your noodles to the sauce to finish them off so they have time to take on the flavor and stick to the sauce, adding in a little bit of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.

Pasta water has a lot of starch in it, so it will thin out your sauce while adding richness and gloss whereas water alone will make it soupy.

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10. Brine Your Meats To Keep Them Juicy

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Kitchen Konfidence Source: Kitchen Konfidence

Here is a culinary secret that many cooks, especially the newbies, will cherish. Do you have troubles cooking your meat to doneness and maintaining a juicy, flavor-packed texture? The answer is to brine it.

Brining your meat is a simple process and a surefire way to end up with a deliciously juicy cut of meat on your plate, even if slightly overcooked.

Simply add 1 cup of salt to every gallon of water you will use for the brine, and submerge your meat in the liquid for about 30 minutes to 1 hour for every pound of meat. Just don’t keep it in longer than that, as it will over-tenderize the meat and turn it into muck.

H/T: Times Food