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Your one cooking tip ?

OK, I thought I would try something different for a post. There is always one thing that you learn somewhere that you just never knew about cooking or preparing. What is the one thing that you would share with us all that you learned along the way and said "Gee, I wish I knew that years ago" ??

I will use one example that I learned when I was about 15, that was the easiest way for me to hard boil eggs without them breaking, just put them in a covered pan, cover the eggs about one inch over with water, bring the water to a boil, immediately take the covered pan off of the burner when it starts to boil and set the pan aside, 16 minutes later, Wallah, all done, perfect !!!

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    1. re: inuksuk

      This is indeed the best way to cook. I think it helps with Roman's (below) comment about not being a nervous cook. Once I started prepping everything in advance I became much more confident in the kitchen and my dishes have benefited.

      1. re: inuksuk

        I second, third and fourth this tip.
        You've got everything at your fingertips ready to go when needed. There's also something very therapeutic in prep work, for me.

        My tip is: learn how to make your own stocks (chicken, beef, veggie, seafood). They freeze so well, are very easy to make, are cheap to make, and are a bazillion times better than any canned or boxed product you'll ever buy in the store.
        I used to make risotto with boxed stock. I made it for the first time with my homemade stock and the richness and depth was so beyond the way it was before. I'll never go back.

        1. re: inuksuk

          Another affirmation-it makes cooking enjoyable instead of stressful (and, it follows that a stress free way to set up the mise en place is, per lunchbox's suggestion, to have a sharp knife ready to go).

        2. Trust your senses and never be a slave to recipes.

          1. Steel your knives frequently- like everytime you pull them out of the block and at least every 5# of veggies or meat- Steeling a sharp knife really keeps it in prime cutting condition for a longer time than just swiping it at the start of your prep (part of any good mise en place- thanks inuksuk).

            And another that gets overlooked too often- Season as you go. Adding s & p at each phase of a recipe will increase the depth of each individual ingredient and will require less adjustment at the end of the cooking process.

            Equally as important- CLEAN AS YOU GO!

            1. I also like to smash the head of lettuce down on the counter, then just pull the core out of it, always tearing my lettuce and never cutting it with a knife. Ooops, forgot to add that I rinse it in nice cold water 10 minutes or so before.

              1. Brine your pork and poultry before cooking. It boosts the flavor and even if you accidentally overcook, the meat will still be juicy and flavorful.

                12 Replies
                1. re: KenWritez

                  Oh my God, my 80 year old mother has just become the brining queen! Turkey at Thanksgiving for sure!

                  1. re: MellieMac

                    Alton Brown's brined, roast turkey recipe on FN:

                    http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                    ...is the best I've ever tried so far. Brining is the key!

                    1. re: KenWritez

                      I second Ken's post! I made it for the first time during the 2006 holiday season. That bird was moist, succulent, flavorful, and luscious.

                      My tip, read recipe directions carefully, and keep everyone out of the kitchen! (unless you like company, that is). Cooking is my "therapy" and I like to have the peace to myself.

                      1. re: KenWritez

                        Have you ever tried this recipe on an outdoor rotisserie ?? Sounds like it would be delicious done that way also (wheels are turning) !!

                        1. re: Jimbosox04

                          Might be, but part of what makes this so great is the 500 degree start in the oven. Browns the breast skin sooooo nicely.

                          Just have never been able to keep the oil and scum in the oven from setting off the smoke alarm!

                          1. re: Jimbosox04

                            Rotisseried over a cherry wood smoker. Every T-day. Sooooo good.

                          2. re: KenWritez

                            I've done this recipe twice and I just don't like it. The odd flavors are off putting and it screws up the flavor of your drippings for gravy

                            1. re: chrisinroch

                              Huh, that's very different from my experience. I've been brining my turkeys using Alton Brown's method for a few years now and have spectacular results each time, including the gravy. What did you find odd, specifically? I'm curious about whether some seemingly minor variations in technique or ingredients might get different results.

                              1. re: ccbweb

                                I think it was the cinnamon and ginger that were not working for me. I use a traditional salt brine now, and sage and thyme and onion for the aromatics. It probably has more to do with traditional meals demanding traditional flavors for me.

                                When the family sits down to TG dinner, the best food takes them back to when they were kids. This recipe made the gravy taste "deserty" and non familiar.

                                1. re: chrisinroch

                                  That makes a bunch of sense. Now that i'm thinking about it, I often use additional stock from a different bird made earlier for the gravy so those flavors would be cut some in my final dish. Glad to hear you were able to adapt, though. I'm not sure any of it really matters much except the salt water and time.

                              2. re: chrisinroch

                                Love this recipe...no odd flavors.... my MIL asked for it.

                                1. re: Siobhan

                                  Ditto - nothing really odd that I've noticed - just really really good moist turkey and the best gravy.