Counter-Intuitive Cooking: Tips & Tools for Perfect Dishes Every Time

For most amateur chefs, cooking is all about love. The love of the food, love of the people you prepare it for and love of the process. Kitchen masterpieces are created from creativity and intuition. Unfortunately, though, so are kitchen tragedies. As a budding culinary artist, you can minimize cooking catastrophes by doing a little less improv and following a few more cooking methods. Your creativity can still flow from you to your cuisine, but there will just be less mess when using these tips, tools, and hacks in the kitchen.

Prep in Large Quantities

You may have learned to prep only what you plan to use to ensure freshness, but prepping in bulk can save time. A quality refrigerator can keep prepped produce for several days, especially if you line the produce drawer with paper towels and store fruits and vegetables unwrapped in the drawer. Intuition may tell you to cover the vegetables, but the drawer is designed to keep its contents fresh all on its own.

Sample Raw Ingredients

Your instinct may tell you to taste your meal as you cook or to wait until the end, but testing your ingredients before you begin can save you from ruining an entire dish due to one off ingredient. In particular, some green vegetables, like kale and green beans, may lose flavor before they lose visual appeal. Sampling your veggies for taste and crispness immediately before they touch a pot or skillet ensures you are using the absolute cream of the crop.

Measure, Measure, Measure

There is a reason measuring cups were invented. Precise amounts matter. A little too much of this or not enough of that can have dire kitchen consequences. For example, many at-home chefs underestimate how much water they need to use. Especially if your recipe varies in measurements — one ingredient calls for cups while another denotes ounces — a water dispenser can make all the difference. Carefully crafted and designed appliances, like a KitchenAid fridge, come equipped with a measured water fill feature that displays and automatically dispenses water in ounces, cups or liters. This can prove to be a life-saving (well, at least a rice-saving) kitchen tool of the trade.

Brine Instead of Marinate

Interestingly enough, salt creates juicier meat. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, brine your cutlets instead of soaking them in a sauce overnight. The process of coating the meat in salt equates to a kind of osmosis, where the salt initially draws the water out of the meat, and then brings the moisture back into it after the salt has settled into the fleshy cuts. This dries the skin but leaves the inside morsels juicy and plump. The end product is moist inside with the exterior being slightly drier, meaning the skin turns out crispier after it is prepared.

Although cooking is largely creative, there is a great deal of science that goes into it. A truly memorable dish integrates inspiration with counter-intuitive tools and tactics to balance out the love you put into your cooking with the precision of a professional.

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