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Home Chef Crash Course 2

My name is Gui Alinat. I’m a native of France and an executive
chef in the United States. I spent 6 years in culinary school, and I
have a 28-year professional cooking experience. I’ve owned my
own fine catering business for the past 15 years, and written The
Chef’s Repertoire and Eat More Burn More™.
Sometime in my career, it occurred to me that learning how to
cook does not have to be complicated, expensive, or mysterious.
There is so much mystery surrounding the making of food that the
public tends to treat chefs as if they were alchemists or rock
stars. We are neither.
A chef is no one else than someone who possesses a set of
skills. To run a professional kitchen, a chef needs to master hundreds of skills.
I’m pretty sure you’re not interested in running a restaurant
You just want to know how to cook.
That’s why you only need to know a few skills. 13, in fact.
Here there are. All of them available for free in the following
pages. I have compiled the absolute essential set of skills you will
ever need to empower yourself and be creative in the kitchen. For
a lifetime. This crash course is ultra condensed. No recipes, ever.
No complicated chef language either.
Pay attention, learn these 13 skills, and that’s all there is to it.
Give a man a recipe, and
he’ll know how to cook for a
Give a man a skill, and he’ll
know how to cook for a
After you’re done reading and learning my 13 cooking skills, I
guarantee you that you’ll be able to cook most anything using
your own senses and creativity, without ever following a recipe
again. You’ll impress your family, friends, or anyone you are cooking for and more importantly, you’ll understand how to cook.
One last word. This is easy. There is nothing complicated, difficult, or expensive. So just get started now.
In this chapter, you will get the checklist of everything you really need to get started. Don’t worry,
it’s easy. In fact, there are only a couple of specific
items the home chef really needs. I’m only showing you what’s essential and how to get started in
no time. No endless list of expensive items; just
the basics, not the fluff.
I’ll also show you the 3 basic knife cuts necessary
to prep most everything.
I know you already have a microwave and an ice cream
scoop! So let’s not waste ink over this.
This is what home chefs need to pay attention to. The
rest is just not as important.
1. A good set of decent knives
2. A comfortable cutting board
3. A set of efficient pots and pans
As much as they all want you to buy an entire set of pricey knives, the truth is, you only need 3. You’ll use
these 3 knives 90% of the time. Add a peeler and a
bread knife and you’re done.
1. Chef’s knife
2. Utility knife
3. Paring knife
... is a matter of preference. Go to a specialty store and try them both. Over the years, I’ve accumulated
both. But remember, you only need 3.
Bad habits die hard. It’s time for a change, though. Force yourself to adopt
proper knife skills. Why? You’ll be faster, more accurate, more efficient, and
safer in the kitchen.
Practice makes perfect. Spending time practicing proper knife skills will pay off
big time. So practice, practice, practice, and more importantly, don’t give up.
Force yourself to adopt proper form.
The basic of pots and pans
1. Thick and heavy is best (Skillets are great).
2. Avoid aluminum (It doesn’t distribute heat
3. Make sure handles can go in oven.
4. Get the best your money can buy.
This is my recommended set.
You won’t need more than
that. Note the blend of cast
iron (skillet & Dutch oven)
and stainless steel.
Regardless, all handles need
to go in the oven. Bottoms
are thick to spread the heat.
Material is well-made, not
flimsy, and solid.
Pots and pans make a difference. Get the best your
money can buy!
The basic of cutting boards
1. The larger the better. 2.The thicker the better. 3. Use a rubber shelf liner underneath the board for safety.
How can you know how to cook without knowing
how the food cooks or pairs with?
Let’s learn how to recognize most foods and what
skill(s) you can apply to them.
I’ll also guide you through the chef secrets for pairing foods together, so you can create your own
dishes using the foods you like.
Home chefs usually want to cook chicken, beef, pork, and the occasional lamb.
It would be silly to assume that chicken cooks the same as beef,
or that pork and lamb require the same cooking technique or the
same amount of time to cook. The goal here is to differentiate
cuts of meat, cooking techniques to use, and how long we need
to cook the meat.
How do we know?..
“Cooking meat” checklist:
1. Identify the cut
2. Apply proper cooking
3. Apply proper time
Check out the “Cooking meat” checklist on the left column. Let’s
leave out the time factor for now. We’ll explore that a little further
down the road.
That leaves us with the cut of meat to identify, and the cooking
technique we need to apply to that cut of meat.
The amazing thing about cooking meat is that you apply a specific cooking technique (such as Grilling, Deep-frying, or Roasting) depending on the cut of meat (beef flank steak, chicken
breast, pork tenderloin, lamb chop for instance), NOT the type of
meat (Beef, chicken, pork, or lamb for instance). In other words,
you can grill a SPECIFIC cut of chicken, beef, pork, or lamb in ex-
actly the same way, but you can’t necessarily grill ALL the cuts of a given animal.
Let’s focus on identifying the specific cuts of chicken, beef, pork, and lamb.
You see, there is one word you need to remember forever: Collagen. Think white-ish connective tissue around animals’ joints and elsewhere. Collagen is weird. If submitted to heat for only a few minutes and no liquid (for instance while Grilling), it is tough as hell. If cooked for a long period of time
in a liquid (for instance while making a stew), then it transforms into gelatin and becomes as tender
as, well, gelatin.
Some pieces of meat have a lot of collagen (Always the tough cuts: like shanks or neck) and will
need to be cooked for a long time in a liquid (Like a stew, for instance).
Some other pieces of meat do not contain a lot of collagen, and therefore can be cooked quickly,
and with or without liquid. These are nice and sought after cuts (Like beef or pork tenderloin).
Which equation to use?..
Your goal is to understand the basic anatomy of the animal you’re working with. Muscles that worked harder during its lifetime are tougher.
If you can figure out if the muscle (meat) you’re using is a tough one
(meaning it’s worked hard like legs or neck) or a tender one (meaning
it’s has not worked much like the back, butt, or loin), then you’ll know
which cut has the most collagen, and therefore which cut needs to be
slow-cooked in a liquid, or at the contrary, flash-cooked on your
pan or your grill.
You can use the same time and
temperature combos for the
same cuts of meat, no matter
which animal you’re working
with. Beef or pork tenderloin
cook the same way. Lamb or
pork neck cook the same way.
Unlike meat, fish is kind of easier in a way. Most fish “meat” reacts the same to cooking.
If I assume that you are only interested in cooking fish fillet (as opposed to a whole fish), then we only need to focus on the cooking techniques and the cooking time.
“Cooking fish” checklist:
1. Apply proper cooking
2. Apply proper time
Cooking time
Fish, scallops, and shrimp tell you when they’re cooked: they
change color! And that’s very practical.
But let’s forget about the cooking time for now; we’ll talk about
the time factor in a chapter 9 and 10.
Let’s focus instead on the different cooking techniques we can
use for fish.
Recognizing fish & shellfish
Well, that’s an easy one. As long as you stick to the
usual suspects (Salmon, shrimp, scallops, sea bass,
grouper, trout, tilapia, cod, etc...), all you need to do is
to go to your grocery store and study the labels, with
the confidence that they all pretty much cook the same
way, and keeping in mind that some cooking techniques are slightly better than others (look at the diagram above).
Good fish does not smell. Ask the fishmonger if you can
smell the fish.
The best advice I could possibly give you is to visit your local supermarket.
Spend some time there. Look at the vegetables. Touch them, smell them, imagine what you can do with them. Your supermarket most likely has charts on
what to do with such and such vegetable.
Remember that cooking vegetables involves the same techniques as cooking
other items: saute’, steaming, roasting, making a soup, etc...
All grains pretty much cook the same. However, the cooking time varies. In chapter 5, we’ll see exactly how to cook grains. For now, go to a health food stores and familiarize yourself with the different grains, their shapes, what they are, and what people usually do with them.
Infographics courtesy of www.joyofkosher.com
Here is a quick list of the herbs
and spices you should have in
your pantry. They will likely be
your go-to spices and you can
make plenty of dishes with
• Cinnamon
• Paprika
• Cloves
• Cumin
• Herbes de Provence
• Salt & pepper
• Dried thyme
• Dried oregano
• nutmeg
• Bay leaves
• Cayenne pepper
This chapter will get you started in no time.
Dips, salsas, and dressings are very easy and
quick to make. And they really get your creative
juices flowing.
Let’s get into practical cooking here. Easy practical cooking!
A dip is nothing else than a body (usually a vegetable or legume
blended in a food processor, or a dairy like sour cream, or mayonnaise), which is mixed with a bunch of textural aromatics (say tomato, cilantro, and onions for a guacamole, for instance), and a salt/
sweet/spice mixture to salt/sweeten/spice things up.
Here is the equation:
There are no
cooking police!
What you choose
to put in your dip
is up to you.
Now, don’t bother me with the ingredients or the quantity of ingredients to put in your own recipes. That’s
your responsibility and only yours.
Would you like your dip to be spicier? Add more spices. Would you like it saltier? Add more salt. Do you
love cilantro, but can’t stand tomato in your guacamole, then add or subtract things accordingly. That’s
all there is to it.
Same with the ratio of things. If you prefer your guacamole to be mainly avocado, then go for it and load
it up. If at the contrary you enjoy plenty of the other stuff, then add plenty of tomato, onions, and cilantro.
Very similar process for making a salsa. You start with
a body, which usually is made of chunky vegetables
or fruits, add textural aromatics to it, and a salt/spice/
sweeten mixture to kick it up a bit.
Again, there are no cooking police. So feel free to
play with the ingredients and the quantities. What’s
the worst that can happen?.. Too spicy?.. You’ll adjust
that next time.
We’ll take the same approach to create your own salad dressing.
However, the ratio of acid vs. fat is slightly more important, here.
So we’ll take 1 part acid (like vinegar) and just add 3 parts of fat
(like your favorite oil, or a blend of oils). You can stray from that
ratio. I tend to work more with 1 part acid and 4 parts fat, but
that’s up to you: It’s your salad dressing.
Note that salad dressing (the French call it “vinaigrette”), is
meant to be non-emulsified. Meaning it doesn’t look homogenous
(you still can see the vinegar and the oil). So literally making a
salad dressing is a 1 minute deal: Grab a salad bowl, add your
vinegar, your oil, your salt/spice/sweet mixture, give it a quick
whisk and you’re done.
Now, if you want to emulsify your salad dressing, meaning it
looks homogenous (more like mayonnaise if you will), you will
need to “agitate” the dressing (for example using a hand
blender) and you’ll need a natural emulsifier (an ingredient that
just helps the emulsion) like mustard, egg yolk, or even mayonnaise.
What’s more comforting than a great, warm,
healthy soup to feed your friends and family? Here
you will learn the 2 easy techniques to whip up
any soup you can possibly think of, using the ingredients you want, using only 1 pot.
By the end of this session, you’ll be able to cook
things like Chicken noodle soup, Mushroom soup,
Cream of tomato, or French onion soup. From
scratch and without recipes.
worry about
as much as
A soup will
together as
long as the
below is
A soup really is the easiest thing to make. One pot. 10 minutes to get it
started, then forget about it.
Pay attention. We distinguish 2 very different techniques: Blended
soups and chunky soups. Choose which one to make first, then follow
one of the techniques below.
Your only big challenge has a word: Consistency. You’ll need to achieve
the best consistency possible: not too thick; not too watery. Remember it’s
always easiest to add water rather than subtracting it. So if in doubt, go
easy when adding liquid.
Cooking carbs can be overwhelming and difficult.
Do you feel your rice never comes out the same
way as your favorite Thai restaurant? Or your
pasta lacks pizzazz? Have you ever tasted undercooked potatoes? Or seen overcook potatoes ruin
a dish?
In this chapter you’ll learn how to cook carbs right.
My easy techniques will bring the same great results. Every single time.
Rice, pasta, potatoes, and grains such quinoa, polenta, and couscous are great food items and so
versatile. These “dry” and “rock hard” ingredients need water to be enjoyable to eat. The water
makes them swell and softens them. But in addition to the regular factors like flavor, temperature,
color, etc... home chefs also need to control the swelling. And that’s not easy!
In addition, the starch content (another tricky ingredient to control!) makes it even more difficult to
work with.
Basically, what you need to remember, is that carbs need water, and they also need enough time to
swell and soften. Let me give you the simple ratios of carb vs. water.
Cooking grains
Very simple. Place the grains in a sauce
pan. Add liquid according to ratios on the
left. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low
with the lid on (or off), until grains are soft
enough to use. Let grain sit for 5 minutes,
then fluff with a fork and serve.
Cooking pasta
Fill up a large pot of water. Bring to a boil
and really oversalt the water. Add pasta and
boil for a few minutes until fully cooked.
Drain, and use straight away.
Cooking potatoes
Potatoes are versatile. They cook in water
but can also be roasted. They cook with their
skin or not. If they are boiled, how much water does not have much importance.
It’s important to start cooking them in cold
water (that gets rid of some of the starch,
which can make them sticky and slimmy).
Some potatoes are very starchy and are
great for mashed potatoes, baked potatoes,
or any dish you want it to break down (Russet). Others (Yukon, Baby) are not and therefore are best roasted or sauteed, or
Adding flavor
Grains, polenta, pasta, and potatoes are considered neutral flavors, meaning they do not
bring much flavor at all.
I just showed you how to cook them. Now it’s
your job to make them flavorful: Use stock
not water. Add grated cheese and fresh basil
to polenta, raisins and pistachios to couscous, spices to potatoes, onions and zucchini to rice, etc... Add big flavors!
Steaming meat, fish, or vegetable is your way to
healthy cooking, as well as minimal cleanup.
Here is the basic technique so you can steam
countless ingredients using no fat and losing no
flavor. Steaming is easy, versatile, quick, and ultraclean. This is also an open door to the wonderful
flavors of Asian cooking.
You may get creative and cook things like
steamed dumplings, salmon with cilantro and lime,
or baby potatoes with butter and chives.
Steaming works by
boiling water
causing it to
vaporize into steam;
the steam then
carries heat to the
nearby food, thus
cooking the food. The
food is kept separate
from the boiling water
but has direct contact
with the steam,
resulting in a moist
texture to the food.
Why is steaming important? It allows you to cook things super fast on
your stovetop, it’s easy, and it’s very healthy. Most likely you already
have one of the steamer inserts pictured above. If not, buy one today.
You can steam a lot of things: potatoes, all vegetables, rice, fish, shellfish, chicken, and stuff like dumplings, stuffed cabbage, meatballs,
Super easy. Add a little water at the bottom of the pan, boil it, and add
your raw food in the insert for a few minutes.
So much of cooking depends on achieving a nice,
golden, irresistible crust. On a nice, seared steak
for instance.
Mastering the art of making nice crusts is obeying
a simple rule of Chemistry.
So imagine the possibilities once you master that
These two are very similar cooking techniques. Searing is making a golden brown crust (usually on
meat or fish) without worrying whether or not the item is fully cooked when the crust is achieved (the
item may be used for something else or finished in the oven). To sear, we use a larger “frying” pan,
add just enough fat to coat the inside, turn up the high heat, and add the food item with the characteristic “psshhhh”.
Sauteing is essentially the same technique, but extended to other ingredients, like vegetables or
pieces of meat. There, too, we’re trying to give a little color to whatever we’re cooking.
This is Chemistry, people!.. To make a nice crust
(a principle called the Maillard reaction), you
need to create a perfect storm with:
a. Some protein (That’s easy: meat is protein).
b. A little sugar (That’s also easy: the traces
of glucose from the meat will be enough to trigger the reaction).
c. Extreme heat (Your pan over high heat is
at 400-500F).
d. No water (Make sure you dry the raw
meat with paper towel).
e. A little fat (in the pan or rub the meat)
f. A bit of time.
We just talked about it. But I want to bring your
attention to a couple of important things. Because cooking is chemistry, you need to follow
the rules of Chemistry. It’s important for instance
to get rid of all water on the surface of the ingredient you’re searing/sauteing. Pat dry (use a paper
towel) your steaks, the zucchini you just washed,
the chicken breasts, or the scallops you intend to
sear. Water doesn’t help.
What helps is fat. Either coat chicken breasts
with oil, spices and herbs for instance, or add fat
to the pan. What kind of fat? It doesn’t really matter as long as you respect the burning point of
each fat.
Obey these 6 rules and your crust will appear after a few minutes of searing.
Searing and sauteing is about nothing else than
building flavors. You see, we humans respond
very, very well to the smell, look, and taste of
“burnt” meat. It’s in our DNA, kind of.
Imagine yourself on a Sunday morning taking a
walk in your neighborhood. Someone is grilling
meat and suddenly you get the smell and become hungry. When we sear meat, but also fish
and vegetables, we make ourselves hungry.
These “caramelized” bits are essential. They contain concentrated flavor, and eating that is a very
rich human experience.
We can also use the intense flavors and release
those into a liquid, which we would call a sauce.
Achieving that perfect, golden “rotisserie” effect is
an easy secret I am glad to share with you. You
are about to acquire the skill and confidence to
use your oven in a way you never thought possible.
Let’s learn to roast items like a whole chicken or a
prime rib or a pork tenderloin. Let’s investigate the
technique and timing so you never undercook or
overcook your Thanksgiving turkey again. Finally,
we’ll show you how to make the perfect gravy.
Roasting really is
about 2 things:
1. Making a nice crust
In the previous chapter, we learned how to make a crust while searing or sauteing
meat or other items. The process is similar for roasting.
Making a nice
crust and
keeping the
inside meat
2. How to keep the meat moist
Resting the meat after it’s
done is equally as
important as cooking the
We all want a moist and tender piece of meat. It’s hard to achieve. You
see, if you don’t pay attention, it’s only a question of time before your
roast beef ends up looking like a piece of charcoal and all dried up,
which will happen once it reaches the temperature of your oven (350450F). In comparison, a medium-rare roast beef inside temperature
should be 130F.
Anyway, the success of the roast relies on its greatest asset: YOU!
So you need to make sure you take that roast out of the oven at precisely the right time. We’ll discuss the timing of cooking stuff in chapter
10. But providing you take the roast out on time, then the key to keeping
it moist is resting it half its cooking time. Say your roast beef cooked for
30 minutes, then it will need to rest for 15 minutes. That will give the
juices, pushed in the very inside of the roast because of the extreme
heat, a chance to rehydrate the meat fibers from the inside out. This
makes all the difference!
Ah, the complexity of sauces! Culinary school students spend entire semesters trying to harness
the technique. With my simple method however, I’ll
get you well on your way to culinary praises by revealing the process behind basic sauce making.
Once you understand it, you will be able to literally
make thousand of sauces, using your own creativity. Things like homemade Alfredo sauce, gravy,
Marsala sauce, Port reduction, peppercorn sauce,
white wine and basil sauce, etc…
This technique will elevate your cooking skills
greatly. And yet it’s fairly simple if you follow a
few simple steps.
Chefs do this all the time. They sear/saute’/roast
a protein, say a steak, and once they’re done,
the bottom of the pan is full of caramelized bits
that stick to the pan. These bits are packed with
flavors, and they are the base of sauce making.
The goal is to release these bits into a liquid to
start a sauce. But before that, it’s always good to
add a few chopped onions or shallots at that
stage to add another layer of flavoring.
Once the chopped onions or shallots have been
sauteeing in the pan with the caramelized bits,
then you need to release the flavors into a liquid
(chefs call that process “deglazing”). How? just
add a cup or so of liquid, which can be wine,
stock, water, or a combination of the 3.
Now you have something that looks a bit more
like a sauce. Except it’s liquid and doesn’t have
the consistency of a nice sauce. Thickening a`
sauce to the right consistency is actually the challenge of sauce making. A couple of options:
1. Reduction
When you reduce a sauce, the only thing going away (via steam) is water. The sauce then
becomes more compact if you will, and concentrates its flavors, but also its consistency. It
becomes thicker. That is the best way to
thicken a sauce. Simply because you get rid
of some neutral elements (water) and concentrate the flavors.
2. Cornstarch
Thickening a sauce with cornstarch is not
ideal, but it’s convenient and quick. Just dilute
some cornstarch with water, and add to the
sauce little by little, until you achieve the right
3. Roux (flour + fat)
Roux is much better (better texture) as a thickener than cornstarch. Not quite as convenient,
though. A roux must be made ahead by mixing equal parts of flour and fat (butter, oil, bacon fat, etc...). An excellent alternative is to
make an instant roux, by directly adding flour
to the fat already present in the pan.
4. Cream
Cream is a great thickener with a fantastic texture. It’s also convenient; just add a bit of
cream in the sauce toward the end and reduce a bit. Cream isn’t to everyone’s taste however.
You’ll know when a sauce is thickened
enough by using a soup spoon, dipping it in
the sauce, and looking at the round side. If
the sauce is syrupy and coats the metal
nicely, your sauce is done.
Once the sauce is thickened, it’s time to “finish”
it. Salt, pepper, maybe a little lemon juice to
bring out the acidity, and a touch of cold butter
that you swirl in the pan for roundness and amazing texture. You may also want to finish with
some chopped herbs.
Make sure you taste your food!
How much liquid to add
to the pan when
It’s best to add a small
quantity at a time. You
can still add more later
to dilute the sauce if
need be.
If you add too much,
just boil it down.
Remember, there’s only
1 thing going away
when you reduce a
liquid: water.
The amazing thing about pro chefs, is that they
can have any dish ready in minutes, and time
things right so perfectly that guests never have to
wait. Yet, that skill is NEVER taught in culinary
How do they do it? Read on.
Yes, timing is everything. In fact, this is probably
the number one issue for culinary students, and
yet culinary schools NEVER teach timing.
Chefs actually follow procedures developed by
the military to complete their tasks on time. When
you think about it, it’s the same approach: both
chefs and military personnel need to be ready on
time on D Day and on T Time. Failing (not serving your friend and family on time, for instance)
is just not an option.
An action plan is a road map with a timedriven checklist of steps and short-term goals
that lead to the completion of the overall task.
You start with the end time. Now the goal is to
break down the overall task (your dinner) into
smaller, manageable tasks (searing the chicken,
for instance), and then prioritize them (1. Sear
chicken, and 2. Make the sauce, for instance).
Providing you evaluate the timing for each task
(sear chicken 10 minutes), the sum of the timed
tasks will tell you exactly when you need to start
preparing for dinner.
I could not emphasize that enough: Planning is
your key to success. I have 28 years of professional cooking experience, and I still sit down
and take however time I need to plan my production, even if I just cook for my family.
The making of your dinner is your overall task.
The first part of your planning is to list every subtask required to make your overall task happen.
List everything. Example: Peel onions, dice onions, make sauce, sear chicken, boil potatoes,
grill zucchini, clean up kitchen, wash dishes,
Next, you’ll evaluate each subtask and give them
a time. Be honest with yourself and do not overestimate your ability. Otherwise, dinner won’t happen on time. And make sure you allow time to
switch between tasks and include clean up as
you go. Example: Peel onions (5 minutes), dice
onions (5 minutes), make sauce (20 minutes),
sear chicken (9 minutes), etc...
You’ll notice that some subtasks can be consolidated. Maybe you need minced garlic for the
chicken sauce, and for the grilled zucchini. Well,
consolidate and just make one task out of the
two. In the kitchen, switching between tasks requires a lot of time. Consolidating will streamline
the process.
First things first. Always start with what takes
the longest to cook. While it’s cooking, you can
do the rest. Next, decide what takes the longest
to prep. Then go down the list to find out what
can be done quickly and at the end. Things like
chopping parsley or plating your food.
Remember one thing: While things are cooking,
you can still work on something else. That cuts
down a lot of time. Do not just stand there watching your chicken cook. Let it cook, and clean up
your station for instance, or do a few dishes to
keep up.
Talking about doing dishes, make sure you clean
as you go. This is actually a very important part
of your timing. When you dirty a dish, clean it up
right away and don’t let dishes accumulate in the
sink. When you’re done with a spice, put it away
right away; don’t leave it on the counter for later.
Here is your number one question:
How do I know if it’s cooked or not?
Granted, the problem seems overwhelming. But
with simple tips, you’ll become a pro at “just knowing it”. With that skill in your bag of tricks, you will
avoid undercooking and overcooking things, and
deliver moist, perfectly cooked food, every time.
Everybody likes their steak tender and moist.
Cooking things right is about 2 things: Controlling heat and retaining water. That’s what it boils
down to.
Before we talk about that, I need to tell you one
secret: YOU have the tools to judge if a food
item is cooked right or not. Picture yourself at
the table of a very fancy restaurant. You paid a
lot of money for the experience, and then the
white-gloved server brings you a steak. Is that
steak cooked right? It’s a simple question. Either
you say yes, or you say no. If you say no, what’s
wrong with it? I bet it has to do with a cook back
there who had trouble controlling the heat and
retaining water.
Making crusts
We talked about making crusts in a previous
chapter. Reminder:
a. You need some protein (That’s easy: meat is
b. A little sugar (That’s also easy: the traces of
glucose from the meat will be enough to trigger
the reaction).
c. 300F+ Extreme heat (Provided by your 350F+
oven temp or your pan under high heat).
d. No water (Make sure you dry the meat with paper towels).
e. A little fat (Rub the meat with a little oil or add
a bit of fat in your pan).
f. A bit of time.
Now, it’s also very important to control the heat. If
the heat is too low, the crust just won’t form (and
most likely your meat will stick to the pan or grill).
To prevent that make sure you hear “psshhh”
when you put the meat in the hot pan.
If the heat is too high (you’d see that if the pan is
smoking), your crust will not turn golden brown.
It will turn black. And that’s not tasty nor appealing.
Keeping it moist
We all want a moist and tender piece of meat. It’s
not easy to achieve.
Food naturally contains water. Keeping food
moist means retaining that water as much as possible. You see, when you submit food to such
high temperatures, the water contained in it just
steams away and you can’t get it back. Food
dries up. Sometimes at an alarming rate; the
higher the temperature, the faster water goes
In most cases, it’s best to keep the heat low. But
the problem is, if you keep the heat low, then
how do you build a crust?
That’s an excellent question. And the simple answer is that you need to make a crust first, then
lower the heat.
Beginners tend to overcook things.
Fortunately, you can use a thermometer to know
when your food is cooked. I recommend taking
several readings into the thickest part of the
food. See the chart below, provided by the
Tip: I mostly use a thermometer. However, I often cook an extra piece of, say salmon, and cut
it in half when I want to make sure it’s cooked the
way I want it.
=> Also, make notes when things have cooked
right, so you remember next time.
Undercooking & overcooking
Because heat travels from the outside in, the bigger the food item, the longer it takes to cook. For
large items (like a turkey), the “cooked right” window is large. But for smaller food items (a 6-oz
piece of salmon for instance, there is not much
time between an undercooked food and an overcooked one. So bottom line: pay attention when
you cook small items and don’t miss the “cooked
right” window.
Resting the meat
Very important: Rest cooked meat half its cooking time. Say your roast beef cooked for 30 minutes, then it will need to rest for 15 minutes. That
will give the juices, pushed in the very inside of
the roast because of the extreme heat, a chance
to rehydrate the meat fibers from the inside out.
This makes all the difference!
Steak doneness
Remove at
Final cooked temperature
125 F
130 F
Medium rare
135 F
140 F
145 F
150 F
Well done
I’m not talking to you
Go away
You have gathered, understood and practiced all
my easy techniques. It’s time to step it up, put it all
together, add flavor, and plate your food
restaurant-style. This may very well be the most
gratifying part of my method.
We’ll walk you through the simple tips that make
food appetizing, flavorful, and irresistible.
Menu planning
If you’re like me you are busy every day and planning a menu for your family or friends is not always easy. Yet menu planning will save you
money, time, and improve your nutrition.
Use your techniques
You have just acquired a very nifty set of techniques. Use them! The quality of your food depends on how you’re going to use and reproduce them, as well as build on them to acquire
new, more complex techniques. Don’t lose what
you learned and practice, practice, practice.
Gain experience
Experience is what is going to make your food
better and tastier, your techniques more and
more accurate, and your time in the kitchen more
Think in terms of color,
texture, freshness,
composition, balance,
style, and simplicity.
One of the most satisfying things to do in the kitchen is plating your
own food. Please follow these simple tips to plate like a pro.
1. Add color
Food needs to be colorful. Plan your food so it includes different complimentary colors. Make sure it’s going to pop up. Don’t overcook
things. Flash steam veggies so they are bright and colorful. Work on
your golden brown crust we talked about earlier. Add fresh herbs at
the end to add some green.
2. Mix textures
Food has different textures. Pay attention to them. Mix something soft
with something crispy, something crunchy with something smooth.
Mix it up.
3. Use large white plates
Your food won’t likely look good on colored plates. Use white plates
that are as large as possible, so your food stands out.
4. Create focus
“White space” also will eliminate distraction
and bring focus to the food. Don’t hesitate to
plate in the middle and allow empty space
around it.
10. Stack it up
5. Add freshness
Some fresh chopped parsley or a nice sprig of
cilantro will bring some freshness and make
your food look better.
6. Plan, plan, and plan
Visualize the end result. By picturing what your
plate will look like, it will help you make decisions along the way. Planning your plate and
thinking in terms of plating will really help.
it up if you want to create white space (foPlanning your presentation is essential
7. Keep it simple
Simple is best. A beginner’s mistake is often
trying to elaborate on simplicity and making
things too confusing.
8. Rule of odds
For some reasons, plating items by odd numbers work best. Plate 3 or 5 elements for instance; not 2 or 4. Likewise, choose odd numbers when plating asparagus or shrimp for example.
9. Be clean and neat
Plate a food item right the first time. Don’t plate
it and move it; that leaves streaks that look
dirty. Use your towel to clean things up if you
have to.
Diagram courtesy of Janice Poon at www.janicepoonart.blogspot.com
Cooking, ultimately, is about flavor.
You have the skills required to cook many items. You understand
cooking concepts better, and are becoming more confident in
the kitchen. Now it’s your chance to pack your food with flavors.
The best advice I can give you is to “think flavor” at each step
of the way. Ask yourself: “how can I add more flavor?” The answers will come naturally and things will come into place.
Are you cooking chicken? Maybe a well-executed golden brown
crust will add flavor.
Are you making a sauce? Maybe reducing it will get rid of the water and concentrate flavors.
Are you sauteing zucchini? Maybe adding a good amount of
fresh minced garlic and chopped basil will make them tastier.
And finally, it’s important to know the flavor profiles as well as the
aromatics you can use to have your way. On the following page, I
made 2 infographics to help you understand what adding flavor is all about.
Thank you for downloading my book. I hope you will get tons of fun in the kitchen with it.
Now, what I would really like to do is to stay connected with you. If you are using any of the social media below, please connect with me so we can stay in touch. Don’t hesitate to drop me an email or chit
chat on Facebook. That would mean the world to me.
That’s it. See, that’s not much to ask, is it?.. :)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/chef-gui-alinat
Twitter: www.twitter.com/chefgui
Instagram: www.instagram.com/chefgui
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/chefgui
Email: chefgui@icloud.com
Web: www.chefgui.com
You can also check out my other books:
The Chef’s Repertoire - available on Amazon
Eat More Burn More™ - available at Early to Rise Publishing
© chef gui alinat
© www.chefgui.com
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