5 Cooking Skills Everyone Should Know By The Time They're 30
Learning to cook is a huge part of growing up. Sure, noodle cups and cheap pizza are great, but they won't get you through the awesome days of your adult life quite like a nutritious home-cooked meal.
In fact, having a few basic kitchen skills is an excellent way to promote healthy eating. Abbey Sharp, R.D., blogger at Abbey's Kitchen, says that when you're the one doing the cooking, you have complete control over what ends up in your food. Which means you'll never have to deal with unwanted ingredients, odious amounts of salt, or too-big portion sizes.
Of course, like most adult things, learning to cook is a lengthy process. There are a few basic skills you should master in the very beginning-the right way to use a knife and how to prep your ingredients for efficiency. Once you've nailed those and more, these five are the next to tackle. Master them by the time you turn 30, and you'll be set for life.
1. Up your grain game.
Rice and pasta are the essential parts of so many recipes. A cup of brown rice or whole grain pasta is a complex carbohydrate that can balance out a nutritious, veggie-packed high-protein dish, or make an excellent meal all on its own.
But the last thing you want is for these ingredients to be over or undercooked. Before you throw your pasta into a pot of water (salted, for flavorful pasta), you'll want to read the cooking time on the box-each variety has a different optimal time. To find out if it's ready she says the best thing to do. The pasta should be firm, but not too firm. Unless of course, you prefer extra al dente.
As for rice, Sharp says to always use a ratio of two parts liquid (either stock or water) to one part rice. Then, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, lower the heat, and cover the pot. "Don't take the lid off while the rice is cooking and cook until it has absorbed all of the moisture without burning on the bottom," she cautions. You'll usually want to cook rice for about 18 to 24 minutes. The same can be said for other grains like quinoa and farro. Double check the instructions on the packaging these ingredients are sold in—cooking times, temperatures, and liquid ratios may vary.
2. Learn how to roast a chicken.
Sautéeing, roasting, pan-frying, braising, grilling—these are techniques Sharp says you should definitely have under your belt by them time 30 rolls around. She explains that "once you understand the basics of cooking and what foods lend themselves to which techniques, you'll be able to apply them to a wide range of food." So if you know how to properly pan-fry a chicken breast, you won't have much trouble perfecting a pan-fried pork loin.
One cooking method you should absolutely learn? Chicken roasting. This is maybe the easiest way to impress guests, and it's not even difficult. You'll want to make sure your chicken is fully defrosted before you get cooking. Then, season the outside and inside of the skin, as well as the chicken cavity (which you'll also want to fill with herbs, citrus, and vegetables like onions, carrots, or whatever you prefer).
After you've seasoned your bird, you'll want to tuck the wings underneath the body, and tie the legs together in order to prevent burning. Heat the oven to 500 degrees F and roast your bird 10 minutes per pound until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F at the deepest point in the chicken leg. You can find the entire method here.
3. And how to clean your fancy equipment .
So you've invested in a cast-iron skillet and a Dutch oven and you love them. They heat evenly, look beautiful, and help you make all the most amazing stews and skillet-fried chicken breasts. But when you're finished cooking, how do you properly clean cast-iron without accidentally ruining it?
According to Bon Appétit, cast-iron is pre-seasoned, which simply means that the manufacturer bakes the product in a vegetable-based oil. This seasoning keeps food from sticking to the pan, and helps prevent the same. 70 cast-iron from rusting. To keep this seasoning intact, there are a few cleaning rules you should know: Whatever you do, don't use soap or metal to clean the surface. You can use a wet towel to wipe it clean. If you're having trouble getting bits of food off, simply add a cup of salt to your skillet while it's warm, and then rinse it out afterwards.
4. Have a basic vinaigrette recipe memorized.
You'll never eat a sad salad again if you have an easy, delicious vinaigrette recipe memorized. Sharp's go-to ratio for making her vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar. You can use these measurements (or whatever is more suited to your taste), and swap in a variety of different oils and vinegars. Red wine vinegar plus olive oil, rice vinegar and sesame oil—there are so many possibilities.
5. And a few impressive and classic recipes in your repertoire.
Having a few recipes logged away will ensure mealtime is always easy. You'll want to have some basics—a panoply of sauces (marinara, cream sauce, and anything else you like), a few simple meat dishes (pan-fried chicken, and grilled steak), and delicious-every-time roasted veggies (we like zucchini and cauliflower) .
And then get jiggy with your dishes. Perfect a burger, master an excellent mac and cheese, and even nail down a solid Caesar salad recipe. These meals don't even need to be fancy—simple classics taste great and will definitely impress. Plus, throwing around ingredients like you know what's up will make you look like a superstar chef every single time. Here are 15 recipes every adult should know.
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