4 Helpful Cooking Tips We Learned from Watching Food ShowsDecember 3, 2019
If kids today can’t imagine a world without Internet, then we can’t imagine one without television shows. Cooking shows stand out among the many dramas, sitcoms, action series, talk shows, and telanovelas out there: the chefs are not only amusing personalities to watch, but also offer helpful tips you can apply to your own kitchen. The cooking shows that do stand out teach us tricks that make our food extra delicious and feel like a pro after a few applications. Here are some of the helpful pro tips we learned from our favorite TV cooking shows.
1. Gordon Ramsay’s Scrambled Eggs
Mikka’s Favorite Lesson
For Ramsay, if a cook knows how to make good scrambled eggs, you know they know how to cook properly.
Gordon Ramsay might appear to be England’s worst boss, but he isn’t. Ramsay knows how to get shit done. You’re lucky to have a boss who actually cares and doesn’t settle on you just showing up cluelessly at work. You see him fuming around his kitchen, bullying his crew around with brutal force like a mad control freak. He exercises a heightened sensitivity (which a lot of people mistake as over-exaggeration) about each smudged plate, each unpolished utensil, that fucked up basil leaf that looks like it was run over by a 10-ton truck—but it’s those little details that have made him the three-star chef he is today. You work hard for that shit. You don’t have it easy in the kitchen, you never do. And Gordon Ramsay knows that path all too well.
The perfection of the simplest dishes is an indication of a good chef, and Ramsay has become a YouTube star in his own right with his mini video clips showing how he prepares the most seemingly-mundane of dishes. This one’s my favorite—scrambled eggs. I like them creamy, almost pudding-like in texture. Ramsay says the most important thing about scrambled eggs is to stop them from overcooking. When getting new cooks, it’s part of his test. For Ramsay, if a cook knows how to make good scrambled eggs, you know they know how to cook properly.
Crack the eggs directly on the pan and put butter in the very beginning—this helps create that velvety finish you’re looking for. When it comes to the heat, start it high, then take it off the heat, then back to the heat, whisk whisk whisk until it comes together (“treat it like a risotto; don’t stop stirring”, to quote Ramsay), then remove it until the desired texture is achieved. Salt is a huge deal also. Do not season the eggs before they hit the pan. Salting them beforehand will break down the richness of the eggs, turning them into a loose, watery mixture.
Add half a tablespoon of crème fraîche to bring the cooking temperature down (other alternatives I’ve used are yogurt or sour cream and they work just as well). This is the time you season it with salt, add a sprinkle of chives, and voilà! Breakfast is served.
2. Heston’s Perfect Steak
Kathy’s Favorite Lesson
Contrary to popular belief, browning the meat does not seal the juices. Although browning it is important, it isn’t done for the purpose of keeping the juices in.
In Heston Blumenthal’s search for the perfect steak he develops the optimum cooking technique to make the steak brown and crisp on the outside while still retaining a juicy and tender center. Contrary to popular belief, browning the meat does not seal the juices. Although browning it is important, it isn’t done for the purpose of keeping the juices in.
The longer you leave the steak on the pan to give it a nice brown outer covering, the more water it loses, making it dry on the inside. Now in order to keep in the moisture, the browning should be done as quickly as possible. This means that your pan must be smoking hot to begin with. Be extra careful and slowly lay down the slab in the direction away from you to avoid the getting burnt by the oil. A trick that Heston suggests is to flip the steak every 15 seconds. This is enough time for the outside to form a nice crisp crust but the insides don’t get exposed to the heat long enough to overcook and dry out the steak. Repeat this until the steak is cooked to your liking
And perhaps the most vital step; after the steak is at your preferred doneness avoid the glorious temptation to dig right in but allow it to relax for a good 5 minutes. Now this is what keeps the juices sealed, giving you a nice tender steak with a bit of crust and juicy flavor with every bite.
3. Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken
Gela’s Favorite Lesson
She recommends butter over olive oil since the former has some milk solids that burn a little bit to give the skin a brown color.
Roast chicken seems easy to prepare. Is it really just a matter of seasoning the skin, stuffing in a few other ingredients, and then popping the bird into the oven? But not all roast chickens end up juicy, tasty, and tender. Some birds have burnt skin or the meat is too dry. To end up with a perfectly roast chicken, you need to keep in mind several steps and look out for particular qualities after the roast itself. Ina Garten’s guide to a perfectly roast chicken shows us how to achieve that perfect roast. “I can do this in my sleep,” she says right before taking us through the steps.
After washing the chicken and checking for any pinfeathers, she makes sure to pat the skin dry so that the butter, salt, and pepper stick to the skin. But before seasoning the outside, she seasons the inside with salt and pepper. Then she stuffs the chicken with a lemon cut into quarters, a head of garlic cut in half, and fresh thyme. The butter is then melted and not burnt before being brushed on the chicken. She recommends butter over olive oil since the former has some milk solids that burn a little bit to give the skin a brown color. After brushing all the butter, she seasons the skin with a lot of salt and pepper. Don’t let the sheer amount overwhelm you: you’ll need that much salt to avoid serving bland meat.
The next step is crucial to cooking the chicken in the oven: both chicken legs need to be trussed so that they avoid getting burnt and the meat is prevented from being overcooked. All you need is kitchen twine to tie both legs together. Keep the ends long so the twine is easy to remove later. Then tuck the wings under to avoid tying more twine all over the chicken.
Scatter vegetables on the pan that’ll be holding the chicken. The juices of the chicken and the vegetables are cooked together so they can enhance each other’s flavors. Leave the chicken for an hour and a half at 425 degrees Farenheit. There are several ways to make sure the chicken is done. First, you can shake hands with the leg; a wobble indicates that it is cooked. Next, you can cut between the leg and the thigh to see if the juices are running clear. Before serving the chicken, let it rest for 20 minutes wrapped underneath aluminum foil. This resting period allows the juices to go back into the meat.
4. Nigel Slater’s Roast Chicken
Pamela’s Favorite Lesson
His specialty is making things simple. Cooking has to be an enjoyable experience, and to him, if you stand for ages at the countertop confused with times and temperatures, you’re unlikely to put any love into your food.
I’m not kidding when I say I might have every cookbook Nigel Slater’s ever made–and if you don’t own one, you probably should. This man knows how to both cook and write, and he does both with an understated simplicity; this makes his recipes approachable, and unintimidating to those who cook at home. I love my celebrity chefs, my Rene Redzepis, my Heston Blumenthals, but when it comes to cooking, recreating their dishes are not exactly ideal for a home cook. This is why Slater’s words are canon when it comes to my kitchen.
I first discovered Nigel Slater when I was a student living alone. There was no Food Network where I was, and all I had was the morning BBC, and everyone on it was foreign to me. This guy however, had such a calm demeanor, an easy and light hand when it came to cooking, and even taught you how to go to the market and cook for one. He made everything look easy, and I was hooked. I started collecting his cookbooks and watching his video clips, and he became my constant companion throughout my first few years of university.
His specialty is making things simple. Cooking has to be an enjoyable experience, and to him, if you stand for ages at the countertop confused with times and temperatures, you’re unlikely to put any love into your food. I think one of the best ways a home cook can easily impress is by perfecting their roast chicken recipe, and by keeping it simple, Slater breaks all the rules. A whole chicken looks beautiful when plated, but if it’s your first time, get the juiciness right by splitting it into two. Don’t fuss around with the ingredients; garlic and lemon will never fail a first-timer, and a plethora of herbs and olive oil will get a perfect result any time. Instead of telling you precise calculations, he lets you do things to your liking, tells you to check up on the bird after 2 hours, and don’t fret and stand by the stove. This may seem like it won’t get an ideal roast, but his recipes are always failsafe. They are the most effortless attempts at cooking you’ll ever read, and give you the confidence to attempt whatever you want in the kitchen.