Admit it, you’ve searched for a home recipe version of that specific food that you paid for. We’ve seen people post videos of fried chicken recipes emulating those fried in the most popular fast food chains. We’ve seen people mimic dishes made in reality TV shows because they know, somewhere out there, someone is trying hard to replicate that perfect dish. Thankfully, some people are crafty and generous enough to share techniques from the masters themselves, like making pancakes with sour cream.
Here are some real life hacks that actually work.
Everything is better in batches
We know it can be tough to do, but if you can resist the urge to cram as much food into one roasting as possible, you’ll really be doing your cooking a favor.
Why? Because when you overcrowd your pan, you’re no longer roasting — you’re steaming. This is where batch cooking comes in.
What is batch cooking? It’s exactly what it says on the tin.
If you want the crisp, crunchy texture that roasting can bring (as well as the faster cooking), then control yourself and roast in small, spaced-out batches. It might be a little bit tedious but it’s definitely worth it.
Cook the edges of your steaks
If you want to get a nice crust on the outer edges of your steak while decreasing the oil you use at the same time, cook your steaks on their edges as well as their broadsides.
Most of the fat on your steaks will be on the edges, so start your sear by cooking the edges first (hold them upright with cooking tongs). This will melt the fat so that when you cook the flat sides of your steak, they won’t stick to the pan and you won’t need additional cooking oil to do it.
Caramelized sugar will take your baked goods over the top
Baking with caramelized sugar is a whole new ballgame when it comes to flavor, but can be used and stored exactly like regular sugar.
The best part is, it couldn’t be any easier to caramelize your sugar. Basically, you’re just toasting it.
Spread out your sugar over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and toast in a 300°F oven for anywhere between 1-5 hours, depending on how strong you want the caramel color and flavor to be. Just don’t go over five hours, because then it will start to liquefy.
Cook with butter and oil in a 1:1 ratio
Have you ever burnt butter while trying to saute? It’s no fun, it stinks to high heaven, and absolutely ruins the flavor of your dish.
Here’s one great kitchen hack. Instead, to get the rich flavor of the butter without the worry of burning it, just add the same amount of cooking oil to your pan as you do butter and worry no more!
Make pancakes with sour scream
We know, we know — you’ve been making pancakes since you could hold a spatula and you’re pretty sure you know how it’s done.
On the other hand, if you haven’t tried making your pancakes with sour cream in the batter, you have no idea what you’re missing.
Here’s one of the tips and tricks in the kitchen they don’t tell you about. The sour cream acts similar to buttermilk and gives your pancakes the lightest, fluffiest, and creamiest texture you could ever imagine- all perfected with a buttery crisp texture on the outside.
So, next time you’re going to cook up a stack of pancakes for breakfast, toss 2 tbsp. of sour cream into the mix and thank us later.
Brining will give you juicy meat every time
Whether you’re cooking up chicken, steak, turkey, or pork, you can’t go wrong with brining. This is especially true with cheaper, and normally tougher, cuts of meat.
Soaking it in a good brine will not only add flavor, but it will tenderize your meat and make sure it turns out juicy each and every time. You can learn more about this super simple cooking tip here.
You can also try dry brining steak before you put it on the grill. To enhance the flavor, season your meat well and just set it aside in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Cook your pasta right in the sauce
It makes sense almost as soon as you hear it, right? Instead of dirtying up another pot for no reason, cook your pasta directly in the sauce. The starches will both thicken the sauce and help it adhere better to the pasta!
Use a wet towel beneath your cutting board
Ever tried to chop something up while struggling to keep your cutting board in place?
It’s a nightmare many home cooks have had to deal with, but our chef friends tell us that placing a wet dish towel (or paper towel) beneath your board will give it grip and help hold it in place while you get the job done.
Know when to add your seasonings
Getting a good flavor in your cooking is all about using the right seasonings. But, the key to unlocking the full potential of those seasonings is all in when you add them.
For dried herbs and spices, you want to add them to your dish as they cook so that they can “bloom” and release all of their delicious oils. For fresh herbs, on the other hand, you want to add these toward the end or after the cooking process, as overcooking these can make them (and your dish) turn bitter.
The type of salt you use matters
Believe it or not, different types of salt have different flavoring effects on your meals.
Knowing that, trust us when we say that a coarse grind of salt will add depths to the flavor of your food that you wouldn’t believe.
Cooking can be intimidating, but fortunately, now that you know these easy food hacks, it will be easier for you to impress your friends and family. Whip up your favorite dishes and try these hacks out for yourself. Who knows, there might just be a Michelin-starred chef in your kitchen after all.