With 2014 in full swing, it’s the perfect time to take on a new challenge. Leave your kitchen fears behind, and learn the skills you need to up your game in the kitchen so you can create fabulous food with ease. Our new book Cook Good Food covers all the basic cooking techniques with step-by-step directions and photos, and it gives you 60 great recipes to help you master them.
Throughout January, we’ve been sharing key primers from the book, along with the editors’ top secrets for success. Here’s a roundup of them all — get inspired, and make good food tonight!
|Learn to Cook: Saute
To saute (which comes from the French word for “jump”) means to quickly cook food in a small amount of oil over high heat. All you need is a saute pan and a high-temp oil, and you’re ready to go.
|Learn to Cook: Stir-Fry
Stir-frying is a quick cooking method with roots in Chinese culinary traditions. It’s essentially a high-heat, high-speed version of sauteing, where bite-sized ingredients are tossed quickly in smoking-hot oil. It’s the ultimate one-pan technique!
|Learn to Cook: Fry
Frying, or more specifically deep-frying, means cooking foods fully or partially submerged in very hot oil, creating a crisp, golden crust that seals in natural juices and keeps food moist and tender. With temperatures just shy of 400°F (200°C), frying can be dangerous work, but it’s easy to master.
|Learn to Cook: Braise
Braising breaks down tough cuts of meat and dense vegetables into soft, tender morsels by cooking them slowly in a moderate amount of liquid. While the process can take hours, it requires very little hands-on time or attention once the ingredients are in the pot. As a result, these dishes are great for entertaining.
|Learn to Cook: Simmer & Poach
Simmering and poaching are moist-heat cooking techniques that gently cook foods to tenderness in a hot liquid. You can distinguish between them by the size and frequency of the bubbles: simmering calls for consistent, medium-to-small bubbles, while poaching demands very small, infrequent bubbles.
|Learn to Cook: Steam
Steaming is a gentle cooking method; it retains the food’s shape, color, flavor, texture and nutrients, and it’s also healthy — no fats or oils are involved. It’s quicker and gentler than boiling, so it’s a great option for delicate foods.