Learning how to cook will be one of the best things you do in your life. The question is, where do you start if you’re a beginner cook or you’re a home cook that is stuck on only being able to follow recipes?
When you learn to cook from the basics you will be able to create food the way you like it and you will be able to cook food without all the added preservatives that are in prepared foods.
Without practice, you will not succeed in cooking. The more you cook the better you’re going to get. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is so true when you are learning how to cook.
The entire idea of practicing at anything is to get better at the end goal. Yes, you are going to make mistakes, but the benefit of the mistakes if your wise is that you will learn from them.
In the beginning, just getting comfortable is the main goal. Before you get too far along you are going to want to learn the things I outline in the post so you can attain some sound fundamentals of cooking.
Learn basic cooking techniques
Learning basic cooking techniques is so important to pull your self away from just following recipes. Yes, you can learn from recipes but if you learn basic techniques you will not be tied to only recipes.
Now, some of these cooking techniques you might think sound to fancy and they must be hard to do. The fact of the matter is, they are the basics, and the ones I will give you are simple to learn.
For some reason, it seems a lot of us lost the basics with home cooking but the fact is all great chefs live by these basic cooking fundamentals.
Braising is one of the simple and best ways to get incredible flavors from a dish. Most braising also calls for simple ingredients. The best recipes in cooking have simple ingredients and simple techniques.
When you braise meat you are cooking it in a little bit of liquid for an extended amount of time. You are also going to be cooking at a lower temperature.
It is common to saute the meat before you actually braise the food. This step will enhance the flavor of the meat by creating the Maillard reaction “browning the meat”.
One of my favorite meats to braise is chicken. My braised chicken recipe has an incredible flavor with simple ingredients.
Learning how to sauté food will help you with all kinds of dishes. Now, sauteing is a simple practice but it needs to be done correctly.
When you sauté food you are typically doing this on a stove top with a frying pan and you are using a medium to high heat.
The idea is to cook the meat quickly with a minimal amount of fat like avocado or olive oil, lard, butter, or one of my favorites chicken fat. You are looking to brown the meat without burning it, leaving the inside cooked just right.
Now, this does not only apply to meat. People sauté vegetables all the time. It is my favorite way to cook my veggies. My most popular video for this is mushrooms and onions video.
The key with the fat that you use is to make sure that it has a high enough smoke point in the frying pan.
Learning to sauté will be a great way to be able to cook different pieces of meat that you can use for all kinds of dishes. It will also make you comfortable the next time you tackle that recipe you want to make.
Sauteed meat is in all kinds of recipes that you are most likely familiar with. One of the most common is a stir-fry or say the chicken in a Chicken Alfredo.
If you learn how to cook ground beef by sautéing, you will master ground beef that you can add to all kinds of recipes like a good meat sauce or ground beef tacos.
Ohh yes, the art of baking. Now when you are learning how to bake say muffins and cakes sometimes baking is not so easy because you need to be very precise.
When I talk about baking your food I am talking about cooking your dish in the oven. The oven gives a consistent constant heat that works so well with all kinds of recipes and foods.
One of the most favorite chicken recipe is a simple baked bone in chicken thighs. They are baked in the oven and also broiled for a few minutes to make them extra crispy.
The ability to be able to control your heat with your food in a dish really makes cooking a lot easier. You don’t have to contend with the grease causing flare-ups as you do with say, grilling.
This by far I would say is my favorite cooking technique for most of my dishes. Not sure if its a guy thing but nothing beats mastering the grill.
When you grill you typically are cooking at high temperature. You are looking at searing the meat to keep in a lot of the juices. This practice browns the meat and that incorporates a lot of flavors.
When you use charcoal or if you grill on an open fire you also create a unique flavor to the food.
Now, do not be intimidated by grilling. One of the benefits of grilling is that you can always pull the meat to the cool side of the grill if things are not going as well as you wanted.
Learn basic skills
If you learn some basic knife skills and prepping skills you will find creating a dish will not take so long or be so stressful. The more you do ahead of time the better off you will get.
Cutting knife skills are really important so you do not get hurt. They will also help you be more consistent with the size of the vegetable that you cut so they cook more evenly.
It is very important to have a sharp knife when you are cutting your food. When you have a dull knife you have more chances of hurting yourself because you are applying extra force that is not needed.
If you are looking to pick up an all-around knife than I would go with the chef knife. This knife is so versatile and I pretty much use it all the time in the kitchen when I need a knife.
Here are a few knife skills that you can learn when your getting started.
Peeling skills are often done with a knife but there are also gadgets that are specifically made to peel that works great for potatoes and carrots alike.
Learning to peel quickly and efficiently will help you enjoy the cooking process and in the end, will make you a more successful home cook.
Cook the food you like
When you are learning how to cook it is really important to cook the foods you like.
It is not going to be much fun to spend a lot of time on a dish to find out you don’t like.
So if you really like Italian food then start there or if you really enjoy Mexican food then that’s also a great place to start.
Most of all the skills and techniques that you will learn apply to all the different cuisines.
So start learning the basics that we defined in this post and then apply them to the cuisine that you enjoy the most.
Watch Youtube videos
I really feel the best way to learn something is by watching and doing. You can do all the research and reading you want but if you don’t apply and try you will not succeed at cooking.
YouTube is a search engine just like Google. You can search for whatever you are looking for to get an answer with your home cooking.
There are a lot of great channels out there. I would stay away from the ones at the moment that is more of a cooking channel for entertainment.
You want to focus on a YouTube channel like mine that will teach you Click on the image above!
This is one of the most important parts of learning how to cook. If you don’t learn seasoning from the beginning you’re going to have a hard time creating food that tastes good.
Salt by far is the most important seasoning that you want to learn. If you are not salting the food that you make you are going in the wrong direction.
Salt will not change the food that you cook it will enhance the flavor in an incredible way.
I have a little experiment for you to try to make you a believer in salting your food.
Buy your self a nice vine ripe tomato that is still connected to the vine. Wash the tomato and cut it into some nice wedges.
Take one of the wedges and hit it with some salt but leave the other without.
- First, eat the tomato with no salt
- Then, eat the tomato that you salted
Now if you try this experiment you will be sold on the fact that you need to season your food and cooking with salt.
The amount of salt is another story but you are on the right track.
Most common salts for cooking
|Types of Salt||Benefits||Negatives|
|Kosher salt||Great for seasoning food and the best tasting.|
Adds a crunch do a dish when needed.
Great for seasoning meat because of size and its texture.
|Sometimes it is to big for a dish.|
Some think its not so good as a table salt, its to big.
|Himalayan salt||Great for seasoning meat.|
Adds a cool color to food with its pink hue.
|Not good as a table salt, its to big unless you have a grinder.|
Expensive compared to other salts.
|Iodized salt |
|No grinder needed.|
Great as a table salt.
Cheapest salt you can buy.
|Not that popular anymore and the taste is not so good.|
Iodine is really not needed anymore in salt.
You can over salt something pretty easily.
There are so many other ways to season your food. This can be done with spices and sauces.
The entire idea behind seasoning is to enhance the flavor of the food. This can also be done with sweeteners like sugar.
You can also add acids to season food. A very common acid would be lemons and limes or vinegar.
Learning the correct way to season your food and cooking will enhance it and make you enjoy your cooking journey.
Food safety is really important when it comes to cooking. The last thing you want to do is get yourself or a loved one sick.
I say the two biggest things to consider are…
Keeping a close eye on the food temp on the foods that you are cooking is very important to prevent food poisoning from eating meat that was not cooked all the way.
It is also important on how you cool your foods for storage, say for leftovers, or that delicious chicken noodle soup that you made.
There is a danger zone when the food is cooling and if you leave soup or a turkey out for too long to cook then you could be asking for trouble.
Making sure that when you are working with raw meats that you really clean your dishes and surfaces well with hot soapy water to kill any lingering bacteria.
One of the big ones is raw chicken. Raw chicken can carry Salmonella and some other nasty bacteria.
You don’t want to wash your chicken in the sink as this can send these bacteria all over the kitchen when the water hits it.
In the end, there is so much to cooking and learning how to cook I promise you it will change your life.
If you have never really created things in life and want to experience a way that is so satisfying then cooking is a great way to experience it!
Let me know in the comments below… Are you new to cooking and are you enjoying the journey?