I'm not a chef but I did go to chef's school for a day. And in one day I learned A LOT. Here are the 10 most incredible tips I learned.
The Stratford Chef School is one of the most respected chef schools in Canada. I pirouetted my way through their front door for an intense night of cooking and eating.
Fried chicken, potato salad and biscuits.
The class was hands on, with recipes and chef instruction throughout. We made and got all the tricks for restaurant quality fried chicken, mashed potatoes and biscuits.
I almost walked out when people started talking about their love of Instant Pots since Instant Pots raise other more violent emotions in me, but convinced myself to stay. I mean, fried chicken was on the menu.
I've put together a list of the 10 most helpful takeaways I took from my chef school class courtesy of The Stratford Chef School (no, not a sponsored post, just a shout out) and Chef Eli Silverthorne.
10 Incredible Tips I Learned at Chefs' School
(even though I am not a chef, I am an enthusiastic home cook)
- If you're making a brine you normally have to boil the water to get the salt to dissolve then wait for the solution to cool to put your chicken in.
Instead use only ¼ of the water in your brine solution, and freeze the other ¾s of the water.
At the end of the boil, pour the hot brine over the frozen water and you have instantly cool brine that's still in the original proportions. ex. For a 4 cup brine, use 1 cup of water to boil and freeze the other 3 cups.
- Taste bud temperature is 135. That's the optimal temperature for food.
- To mix biscuits throw OUT your spoon. Stretch your fingers to the bottom of the mixing bowl and simply lift the ingredients up. Do this a few times and you'll have perfectly mixed, light, fluffy biscuits.
- FREEZE biscuits before cooking them and cook from frozen. This prevents flat biscuits. It makes a HUGE difference.
- Like making potato salad? Mix in the dressing while the potatoes are hot. Do NOT cool the potatoes first. The heat allows the flavours to absorb right into the potato instead of just sitting on top.
- When you break down a whole chicken, remove the wishbone first. It's the thing holding everything together.
- If you're cutting in the right places, a whole chicken cuts apart easily. You should be right in the middle of the joints not through bone. It shouldn't take very much pressure at all. When in doubt, follow the MAP the chicken actually gives you for breaking it down ... the fat lines. If you aren't sure where to cut, follow the fat lines, they'll show you where to go.
- Those bubbles that go crazy when you put something into a deep fryer is actually the water escaping from whatever you're cooking. The water is being vaporized by the oil. Those bubbles also mean your food isn't absorbing a whole lot of oil, the water is pushing it away. When the bubbles start to stop then either the temperature in the fryer has dropped too low or your food is cooked (and has no more water to release)
- Wearing an apron? Tuck a tea towel into the back where you tie it up so it's always on hand. (not in front where it's more convenient I assume because it's also less likely to go up in flames if it slips and gets too close to a gas burner).
- Cook deep fried chicken at 360 degrees Fahrenheit until it comes to 178 if you're a food safety inspector, or 168 if you're a chef. There seems to be some discrepancy between the two types of people.
I'm not sure what I was expecting to get out of this course, but it wasn't the recipes that I walked away thinking about so much as the techniques.
That's the thing about cooking no one seems to pay enough attention to. The techniques you use are just as important as the ingredients.
Take meatballs for example. If you're too violent when you form them and you mash those balls with a vengeance, pummelling them into round little balls of submission - they're going to be dense and icky. Roll them with a delicate hand and they'll have no structure. They'll be mushy and insipid.
You need to have the right technique to make them just perfect.
Suffice it to say I've still haven't had my fill of fried chicken. Or buttery biscuits.
Nothing to do this weekend? Go out! Take a class. Learn something. Have fun. Eat butter.
What the what? Why the political comments from 2018?? What did I miss?
I believe Karen went to Chef's School in 2018 and she was just bringing it up again - the comments were from back then.
Thanks for the share - I like learning things that is fun AND educational. You have put "take a class in xx" back on my radar. :)
Ones that are just one day or night are especially satisfying! ~ karen
Technique is everything. Way back in the 70s I took Food preparation 101 at Michigan State University--three 1 hour lectures a week plus 2 two hour labs a week. A lot of time for just 3 credits, but that cooking lab pulled it all together. Spent 2 weeks just on flour alone. Knowledge is good, but skill really makes a difference in food prep. Thanks for the tips, Karen!
I could see 2 weeks for flour, lol. I might even feel compelled to do extra credit. ~ karen!
Love the odd cooking class here and there. Some good ones at Jill’s Table in London over the years, and one in New Orleans for local menu samples and one at a spa in Arizona - the chef was from California and the meal was so fresh and delicious. Stretches the comfort zone for both the food and prep techniques.
I'd like to take some cooking classes, but with numerous food allergies it doesn't seem possible. Some stuff I can't even be anywhere near or a reaction will occur. *sigh*
Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely use that wishbone tip. Never gave it much thought before, but it makes perfect sense. SAds to eating butter? I'm Polish which means that butter stands proudly at the peak of our food pyramid.
"As" not SAds....darn butter fingers.
i often read the comments and always learn something. two weeks on flour. wow! that would be so interesting. looks like thursday afternoon will be a flour discussion with my daughter.