As someone who cooks for fun, I often get asked how I learned. Believe me, if you saw some of the horrifying concoctions that have graced my table, you may wonder how the family made it through.
The truth is, the best way to learn how to cook well, is to just cook. Because it is fun for me personally, I spend quite a bit of time doing it. One could call that practice! I am really not that good of a cook, but I can fake it really well. There is something important in that idea: Do not be afraid to experiment. If nothing else, you are teaching yourself what doesn't work. Here are 5 things that everyone should learn to improve their cooking - even if you strive to merely fill your stomach. You're welcome.
Brown your meat in a hot pan to seal in the juices and add an appealing color. Start with a piece of meat that is not too cold. Take it out of fridge and allow to sit for 15 minutes before searing. Then, use a nice, heavy pan and a lot of heat. Only add oil if the meat is fatty. Take your time and sear for a few minutes on all sides to get a nice crust.
Please do not roll your eyes! Caramelizing onions, brings out their sweetness, and provides another layer of flavor to your dish. Cook sliced onions in oil, on low heat, until they are browned and soft. Caramelized onions can even become a side by themselves.
Making a roux is the start of great gravy. It is simple, but takes a few minutes. Roux is just flour that has been cooked in oil, butter or fat of some kind. The simple secret is the ratio is 50/50 fat to flour. Roux can be just cooked enough so that it tastes good, or cooked a little longer and darkened for more flavor. Good stuff from only two simple ingredients.
Stay with me now. If you roast your bones, the flavor will enhance tenfold. When you make a chicken or turkey, save the carcass. Roast it at 500 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, and you will have the beginnings of delicious broth. Buy marrow bones and roast them, too. Inexpensive way to make a ton of flavorful broth!
Learn to season your food. This means not being afraid to use them while cooking, after cooking and tweak the recipe each time you make it. Learn to love flavor. Taste bits of herbs and imagine what they would taste good on. Smell things, grow a small pot of herbs on your windowsill. Make herbs and spices accessible to you, the cook. Get in there and sprinkle away!