For me, learning to cook is a life-long process. I say “is” versus “was” because I am both still alive (thankfully) and still learning (also thankfully).
While every dish or week does not being learning, every month does. I’ll pick up a new technique, or learn from some mistake to refine another. Recently I came across a list of 10 techniques every cook should know (SFGate). Take a look as there are some good videos on each of these.
- Breading – Depending on the texture and taste, there are several techniques to learn. Many recipes will skip a first step of dredging the meat into flour before the egg wash (eggs and water) and then the breadcrumbs.
- Browning/Searing – For years I’d be too impatient and not let the pan get hot or the fat (oil, butter) get hot. I’ve learned my lesson and my food has improved because of it.
- Dicing an onion – While there is the one “correct” way, I’ve found I can dice with the same precision and speed my own way.
- Folding – I used to think that beating the heck out of something was fine, but have learned how that can ruin a dish. Folding is a good skill to know.
- Making a pan sauce – The best sauces come from the pan juices.
- Rolling out a pie crust – I admit I don’t do this. I think I’ve only made 1 or 2 pie crusts in my life.
- Making a roux – The difference between a mediocre tasting dish and one that people will die for can be a well made roux.
- Segmenting citrus – I’m not sure how critical this skill is as I knew how to do this when I was five….without a knife.
- Tempering – Like folding, it is not sufficient to just put two things together. How you do it matters.
- Making a vinaigrette – Again, low on my list compared to dozes of other techniques.
Spiced Pork Chops
Learn how to do #2 (searing) and #5 (Making a pan sauce) before you start this dish.
Pork, oil, spices and broth.
When spicing a meat, it is best to let it rest for a while. I like to vacuum pack it as I think the flavor transfers more quickly and deeply.
Cast iron will help you sear. This pan from Wearever gives you that with a non-stick coating.
Using the broth to make that perfect pan sauce.
Time to dig in!
Spiced Pork Chops
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 pork chops
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
Mix all the spices together and evenly sprinkle half over the top of the pork chops. Then in a skillet over medium high heat,heat olive oil. Place spiced side of the pork chops down in the hot skillet. Cook about 3-5 minutes on one side till browned (but not blackened; turn down the heat if they’re cooking too fast). While chops are cooking on the first side, sprinkle remaining spice mixture on the uncooked side. Flip them over once; finish cooking.
Remove chops form skillet and keep warm. Add butter to skillet and whisk up browned bits with a wire whisk. Turn the heat up a little, add chicken broth, and keep whisking till the sauce reduces to about half. Serve the chops with sauce on top.