Becoming a good cook does require a bit of skill and a willingness to learn, but becoming a great cook, a chef for that matter, is an ongoing process of experience, knowledge and experimentation. However, there are only so many ways you can experiment, and one of the things you will learn along the way is that ingredients do matter. That is, ingredients called for in a recipe with explicit directions on their use.
Also, presentation plays an important part in the outcome of any good recipe. Not presentation as in how it looks, although that is important, but in this instance it means presentation as in how you present the food when it’s ready to be served. How you cut it or dish it out. If you are given explicit instructions to use a particular cut of meat or temperature of dairy, you had better follow the directions to the letter. You’ll know why the first time you mess up!
Preparation Begins with the Ingredients
Perhaps the most important tip you can be given when prepping your food to be cooked is in following explicitly how they tell you to use ingredients. If you are told use room temperature butter or eggs or cream, then that’s exactly how you need to use those ingredients. Did you know that a dish prepared with chilled butter will have a totally different flavour and texture than one prepared with butter that has been left to reach room temperature? It’s true! You can read all about it here.
Recipes Go Further than Preparation – From Prep to Table
Here is something almost every home cook gets wrong, at least initially before they’ve really explored the wonders of cooking! Consider buying a juicy leg of lamb or lamb chop and cooking it to perfection, at least that’s what you ‘think’ based on the internal temperature and the lovely browned outer where all your zesty seasonings lay. Then, not wanting it to get cold you take it to the table and immediately start cutting into it. All the juices run out all over the plate and you have a tough, tasteless piece of meat on your plate.
The problem? You didn’t let it rest at least ten minutes before cutting into it. Believe it or not the inside is not as juicy as it appears because it did not ‘puff up,’ rather, the edges shrunk a bit! By letting it sit the juices literally are absorbed into the middle and when you finally cut into that piece of meat you won’t see juices all over the plate. This is truly a vital part of the recipe because a true recipe is from prep to presentation. Ask the award-winning, world class chefs you find on Eat Welsh Lamb & Welsh Beef. Remember the 2 Ps of a good cook – Prep 2 Presentation.
So you see, it’s just as important to the recipe how you prepare it as it is in how you serve it. Always follow a recipe to the letter if you expect yours to look and taste like the experts have outlined it for you. Be exact in times and temperatures and you’ll do just fine.
Brought to you by our friend, Carol.