For the past five weeks or so I’ve shared some thoughts about ingredient selection:
Ultimately, the key to ingredient selection is to develop a critical eye for what you determine to be the best available product – just don’t choose randomly. Consistency in ingredient selection will help create consistency in your cooking.
|Fresh Leeks from our garden|
I used to think that developing sound cooking techniques was the hardest part of cooking, that is, if you already took advantage of good recipes, of which there are fewer than you’d expect.
As I think about it further, developing technique boils down to just two key elements – awareness and repetition. Once you know what to do you can practice and get better; then get faster and develop true expertise. It’s just a matter of time.
Maybe ingredient selection is harder than that – seasons change, vendors change, products change, shelf life, organics, locally sourced…….yes, that’s definitely harder.
Cooking Techniques – A View From 30,000 Feet
I’ll share here a simple outline of the types of techniques needed for sound, fundamental cooking. Not tricks, shortcuts, specialty techniques – just the things you need to make every day cooking more reliable. As the weeks go by, I’ll share details about specific techniques and recipes that use them.
1. Mise en Place – being organized from the start
2. Prep Cooking – getting products ready for the “real cooking”
3. “Cooking” – sauté, braise, roast, grill, brine, deep fry, steam, brown, stir fry,….
4. Cooling and resting
I’d guess that most people would think that '#3–Cooking', would be the hardest skill of all. I don’t think so. Oh sure, that’s the area where there’s greatest potential for disaster. But,......
Without organization, the whole cooking process can get convoluted, nerve racking and time consuming - thus discouraging.
Prep cooking, well, it takes the most time usually. So it becomes a very critical stage so you don’t get discouraged with the overall cooking process, or decide that you’ll ‘never try to peel a mango again’.
Cooling and resting are critical to final quality and taste. In fact, might be the single most important steps for many dishes.