- While we can’t all be master chefs, it is important to know some basic recipes to sustain yourself.
- It’s also vital to familiarise yourself with basic techniques that can help you not only follow recipes but create your own.
- Whether you’re looking to impress dinner guests or just fuel yourself for the day, professional chefs and culinary schools suggest you master these basic recipes and techniques.
For many people, cooking at home can be intimidating, time-consuming, messy, or all of the above. But learning some basic recipes and cooking techniques can save you time and money while also making your time in the kitchen more fun. It will also gift you a great set of skills to impress friends and family.
We talked to professional chefs and culinary schools to find out what recipes aspiring home cooks should master, and each suggestion will also lead you to more recipes to try out in the kitchen.
Home cooks should know how to scramble eggs.
While everyone seems to have their own additions to a scrambled egg recipe (such as cheese, butter, oil, or cream, among others), the technique should be spot on. Scrambling eggs is a quick process, but it can also go south fast.
“Doing them wrong is unforgivable,” Liya Swift of Chef Apprentice School of the Arts(CASA) told INSIDER.
Remember to cook them low and slow for best results. No one wants to eat burnt eggs.
You’ll master many recipes if you know how to roast a chicken.
Swift recommends that home cooks know how to properly roast a chicken. Roasted chicken can go far. Whether you serve it as-is with vegetables, top a creamy pasta with it, toss it into a salad, or shred it for tacos, a roasted chicken can make many meals delicious.
It’s also versatile, in that it can take any number of seasonings for a different flavour profile. It’s great for preparing meals in advance. Once you have that down, you can master many recipes.
Take a simple pasta dinner to the next level with homemade spaghetti meat sauce.
Swift told INSIDER that mastering spaghetti meat sauce is important. It’s going to taste fresher than store-bought tomato sauce, and it will elevate both the dish and your leftovers. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to be left out. Play around with different proteins until you find a taste and texture you love, then wow your friends and family with the results.
Become the master of mac and cheese.
Boxed macaroni and cheese is fine and all, but making macaroni and cheese from scratch is infinitely better. Swift recommends that everyone should know how to make good macaroni and cheese on their own, no powdered cheese required. The results are impressive and delicious, and you’ll be surprised at just how easy and cheap it is to make it yourself. You might never eat the boxed stuff again.
Flip pancakes like a professional.
Whether you are hosting brunch or surprising a loved one with breakfast, pancakes are an easy way to boost your credibility in the kitchen. Plus, once you have this quick meal down, you can easily upgrade it further with customised toppings or fillings. Mix in chocolate chips or blueberries, or try filling the insides with a chocolate hazelnut spread. Even plain pancakes topped with sliced fruit can be an eye-catching dish that is simple to prepare.
Familiarise yourself with stocks and the “mother sauces.”
Making stock isn’t difficult, but relying on homemade over store-bought will make all the difference in the world to the soups and sauces the stock for which the stock is used.
Similarly, master the five mother sauces (tomato, hollandaise, béchamel, espagnole, velouté), and you’ll be able to make endless recipes from there.
Most importantly, focus on simple techniques rather than recipes.
Dawson told INSIDER that the recipes just aren’t as important as the techniques. That’s because not everyone is going to love or even be able to eat certain recipes, whether for medical, religious, cultural, or other personal reasons.
But as Dawson says, “If you know how to cook, saute, braise and poach, you can execute any recipe the way it was written.”
By knowing basic techniques, like Swift’s suggestion on scrambling eggs or roasting chicken, you can apply these skills to nearly any food you are preparing.
Another skill to master in order to improve your cooking is ratios. Dawson recommends reading Ratio by Michael Ruhlman to learn more about how to proportion different liquids, fats, flours, and more to create delicious meals every time, with or without a recipe in hand.
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