Your favorite Italian restaurant sits about twenty and has a three-month wait – people just like you anxiously awaiting everything from grilled sardines to house-made veal raviolis.
Every time you’re there, you marvel not only at how wonderful the food is, but at how such great food can come from three people crammed into a kitchen no bigger than a walk-in closet.
Well, it’s all about efficiency.
Cooks in successful commercial kitchens have mastered cooking beyond things like recipes and techniques.
Thanks to years of experience, they know that the quality of their product depends not only on the freshness of its ingredients, but on how quickly they can get your order from prep to table.
They also know the value of keeping things tidy so they can go home at a reasonable hour after a busy night.
Below are some tricks of the trade to help you churn out dinners for you and your family that are fast, delicious, and won’t have you cleaning until the wee hours of the night.
1.) Knife skills
Coming only through practice, sharpening your knife skills (pun intended) is the primary way to cut back on time you spend in the kitchen. When you can dice, slice, chop, and julienne quickly, you can get whole onions and carrots into your saute pan in a matter of a minute or two.
Watch videos, read books, and ask professionals – knife skills are fundamental to anyone considering themselves a serious cook.
2.) Mise en place
The French term for “everything in place,” this is your cooking set up. In other words, have everything you will need for your recipe within arm’s reach BEFORE you start cooking, and hopefully in the order you will need them.
3.) Pre-Mix Dry Spices
Cooking something that has a litany of varying measurements for dry spices and herbs? If the recipe calls for you to add them all at once, measure them beforehand and put them in a single bowl, all of which you can add at the proper cooking stage. Measure them out while you’re cooking, and you’re asking for a headache.
Thanks to its dome-like design, there’s no better way to get water boiling on your stovetop than to use a tea kettle.
Fill it up, put the lid on, and crank your dial to high; as the water heats, the pressure inside builds, and adding pressure heats the water much faster than temperature alone.
5.) Clean as You Go
Sounds meticulous and time-consuming, but if you clean as you go – wiping counters and dumping used dishes into soapy water or the dishwasher – you will be amazed at how little clean up is left for you afterward. Throw a kitchen towel over your shoulder to wipe counters and grab hot pans. You’re busy anyway, so make the most of this time.
6.) Keep All Non-Cooks Out
If they’re not cooking, they don’t need to be in your kitchen. Let your counters be a barrier; cooking can get intense, both with the heat and the pace; you don’t need to dance around distractions while trying to sear off meats or tossing hot pasta.
Just some simple ideas and tricks that can help you create homemade, healthy dinners at home. Use these, and you’ll not only love cooking, but you’ll love the time you can spend enjoying your creations with your loved ones.
Oh, I so agree with the clean as you go tip. I always do this, whereas my husband fills up the sink and all other surfaces before he does anything about it. I suppose most men do this.
Also the mixing up the spices tip – great one. I’ll use that when cooking next. It will ease so much hassle.
[…] while they can get pretty expensive, we all know that time you save in the kitchen really is […]