'Tis the season ... so be sure to see our Holiday Entertaining Recipes for some terrific ideas. And, it’s not too early to start thinking about our Country Christmas menu for any of your holiday meals! For something different, how about mixing it up with our Light Southern Meal with Grilled Catfish and Watermelon Salsa! Happy Holidays!
Here's what I've been doing to learn to cook since I became "serious" about it 12 - 14 years ago.
Read and collect recipes. Also tips and tricks. Read lots of online forums like this one. Many common problems are discussed from all angles.
Plan on spending time just experimenting, and making quite a lot of things that go quickly into the garbage. Don't get (too) discouraged. Take notes. I find doing side by side comparisons useful. For instance, melt some
butter, and mix in various herbs and/or spices. Spread on bread.
When I got serious, I set aside at least one 4 hour period a weekend to concentrate on a particular dish or technique. This was on top of cooking 3 nights a week just as household duties. As I became more proficient, it was easier to spend more time, because the results were more rewarding.
Use all of your senses. How do the aromas change as foods are cooked? How much sizzle might there be, or steam rising from the foods? How does the texture change?
Start simple, and do it over and over. Sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, etc. Move on to thinner cuts of meat. Make a pan sauce from the drippings. All of that will get you closer to making good steaks.
Realize that the old fashioned phrase "Just like Grandma used to make," was for food someone had cooked maybe 2500 times., and done it from scratch. A restaurant cook may cook the same thing several hundred times a week. Hard for today's home cooks to gain so much experience.
As for good steaks, both my experience and reading indicate that the quality of the meat is fundamental. Yes, the steak needs to be well browned on the outside, and it should rest at least 10 minutes before eating. But the difference in flavor between standard commodity beef and carefully pastured and aged beef is astonishing. They might almost be mistaken for different species.
I agree w. BigWings on using a higher temp for crispy. I run the temp up as high as 450 briefly toward the end if need be.
Work fingers under as much skin as possible, preferably a few hours before cooking, or overnight. A light dusting of corn starch will also aid in crispness.
Altho' many commercial birds are much heavier now than what used to be standard, large birds may still be older birds. The skin on roasters will often be somewhat rubbery, and I've never had a stewing chicken that didn't end up w. rubbery skin.
I guess I should call myself Mr. Medium. I started w. a single medium. I found that w. 3 of 4 kids still in the house, I needed more cooking space. Bought another medium, with which i could manage holiday dinners for 12. Now, w. the kids out of the house, I don't think I have had both going at once in the last 3 months. And, I did make PP for 14 people last week, using just 1 medium.
Just to give some affection to the medium, one of the most spectacular meals I have ever made was a hog's head.