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10 Pro Moves Home Cooks Can Use Every Day

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Photo: RonBailey

1: Spice Wisely

Consider how your spices work together in a dish, not just each component. For a harmonious plate, your homemade barbecue sauce shouldn’t fight the spicy rub on your roast. Salt generously, but be weary of loading on the chile powder (a rookie move). A heavy hand with the spices doesn’t replace slowly developing layers of flavor as you cook.

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Photo: jatrax

2: Blanch and Shock

How is that sauteed broccoli rabe still so green? How do those glazed carrots still have a snappy texture without a hint of rawness? It’s all in the blanch-and-shock method. Cooking in salted boiling water removes bitterness, adds seasoning and takes away that raw taste. The shock of an ice-water bath immediately stops the cooking process before your greens turn brown and your carrots to mush — and it helps preserve their bright colors. You can go on to saute or glaze in butter your favorite vegetables before serving.

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Photo: DebbiSmirnoff

3: Dry Before Searing

The only way to achieve a steakhouse-style crust is to use a paper towel to remove excess moisture before adding it to a hot pan. The same goes for crispy fish skin. Listen for the sizzle — that’s the sound of a pro cook searing.

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Photo: LauriPatterson

4: Baste for Taste

The restaurant trick of spooning on nutty browned butter adds extra flavor and keeps your proteins from drying out in the pan. Here's how: Sear your steaks, chops or fish on high heat. Then add a pat of butter (plus some woody herbs, if you want) to the pan. Spoon the hot butter over the meat to gently finish cooking.  

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