With so many restaurants closing every day and many limitations making it difficult to enjoy the restaurant experience, many people are deciding to learn to cook better food at home.
Even people that are already good home cooks want to elevate their game to be able to cook the types of food that they are used to getting in restaurants but don’t often try to attempt at home.
We often go out to eat not just because we don’t feel like cooking, but also because we want food we wouldn’t normally cook. Or, sometimes it is to get inspired by the food and just enjoy the different flavor combinations. When you can’t do those things, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
In this article, I will give you some tips to get started cooking at home like a professional chef.
1 – Use the best ingredients
One of the biggest reasons restaurant food tastes so good is that they are using incredible ingredients. They don’t get their products or meats from the local supermarket. Rather, they have purveyors that send them the best of the best.
With the internet, or even hunting down some high-end grocers in your area, you can do the same thing. Instead of getting plastic-wrapped pork chops on a piece of styrofoam, order up some Berkshire Kurobuta pork, which is the Kobe version of pork as it is highly flavorful.
Shop for veggies at the local farmer’s markets instead of your supermarket that gets their produce from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. When you cook food that has been out of the ground for mere hours, then you will get the most out of that ingredient.
And if you can manage, dedicate a portion of your yard to growing your own vegetables and even raising chickens. Free-range eggs are expensive but worth every penny in terms of flavor. For pennies, you can have even fresher eggs from your own chickens!
2 – Know when it is cooked
You can usually tell when a home cook is out of their comfort zone when the food is either over or undercooked. This is probably the hardest part of cooking in a restaurant so it is no surprise that it also confounds everybody else.
Cooking your meat to the right temperature is an art form to get right. When you are starting out, you will need to use a meat thermometer so you don’t have to guess at it. After a while, you will get used to cooking to the right temperature based on the temperature of the stove or oven and the time it took to cook.
Fish is notoriously difficult to cook, so find ways to cook it that don’t need you to guess if you aren’t confident. Cooking it in parchment paper is a good way to go as it steams itself in the parcel so it doesn’t dry out if you cook it too long.
3 – Use fresh herbs
Herbs are very much overlooked by home chefs. They are usually an afterthought and only bought when you have a specific recipe you are making that calls for them. Instead, they should be an integral part of your cooking repertoire.
Adding the right herbs in the right dishes will bring out a lot of flavor from the dish. A fresh herb will compliment the flavors of the dish.
For instance, what could be better than fresh basil in a tomato sauce? Or some fresh thyme in sauteed mushrooms? If you have cooked a stew all day, then a sprinkle of fresh parsley will add a brightness to break up the monotony of the deeper tones of the broth.
4 – Don’t use canned or processed food
Even if you aren’t trying to replicate restaurant food, when you want to cook everyday dishes but better, then the first step is to toss out the canned foods and shortcuts.
It only takes about 20 minutes to make a fresh tomato sauce so you can make up a lot of it and freeze it. This way you never have to use the store bought stuff that is full of chemicals and sugars and really don’t even taste that good.
Making your own beef or chicken broth is easy to do and can also be frozen so you have some on hand when you want to make a soup or stew without using salt laden cubes or canned versions.
5 – Try more complex cooking techniques, like smoking.
It’s pretty easy to learn the basic cooking methods such as frying, grilling and braising. Take it up a notch and give smoking a try. When you’re working with tough and fatty meats, smoking is one of the best methods to add flavor to the meat and preserve all those juices. It’s a slow method that brings out an authentic, smoky flavor in food.
If you don’t have a smoker yet, you don’t need to buy one right away. You can build your own smoker for cooking meat, so you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new one.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.