8 Cooking School Lessons To Make You A Better Home Cook
September 30, 2014
There are some culinary school lessons everyone should learn
FIFO or “first in, first out” is the idea that older ingredients should be used before newer ones. After shopping, be sure to put the newer ingredients in the back of your refrigerator or cupboard and leave the older ones in front so they’ll be used first. This will help you save money (less throwing away old unused food) and will keep everyone you’re cooking for healthier (less chance of using ingredients past their expiration date).
Temperature Danger Zone
Another important aspect of food safety and cooking for others is knowing how to store food and ingredients. Foods held between the temperatures of 41 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit are considered to be in the temperature “danger zone” because pathogens grow well between these temperatures. Foods held in the “danger zone” for more than four hours could easily make someone sick.
How to Hold a Knife
When you’re using a “chef’s knife” (a knife that many home cooks have in their countertop knife block) pinch the top (blunt) part of the blade between your thumb and index-finger knuckle on your dominant hand. Then, wrap the rest of your fingers loosely around the knife’s handle. This will give you more control over the blade.
How to Chop an Onion
Onions are the base of many flavorful dishes but their round shape can make them dangerous to cut. Cut them safely by chopping them in half, placing them cut side-down on a cutting board, and then chopping them with your fingers curled under themselves to prevent cuts.
How to Make a Pan Sauce
Deglazing a pan (pouring a cool liquid into a hot pan to loosen the flavorful brown bits on the bottom) is a great way to make a quick sauce and elevate a number of dishes. After deglazing the pan, allow your sauce to thicken and finish with some butter, if desired.
How to Make a Roux
If you want to make a creamy sauce for a dish like homemade macaroni and cheese, you’ll need to know how to make a roux (a simple combination of fat and flour used to thicken liquids). An easy way to make a roux is to combine equal parts liquid fat (like melted butter, lard, or oil) and flour in a pan, stirring so that they don’t burn. A roux is useful for thickening stews, too.
How to Make Pasta From Scratch
Nothing takes your cooking skills from home cook to amazing home cook like scratch-made pasta. Though it seems intimidating, pasta can be made with as few as two ingredients (flour and egg yolks) and requires no special equipment (you can roll fresh pasta dough with a rolling pin. Click here for a pasta dough recipe.
How to Cook Chicken
Whether it’s a crispy golden-fried chicken leg or a whole-roasted chicken, use a thermometer to take the internal temperature of chicken and cook it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but no more. A minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees is essential for safe consumption (the color of the juices or meat can be misleading) but cooking a chicken to a temperature higher than 165 degrees will dry it out.