How to Chop an Onion and Other Cooking Skills the “New You" Should Know425
with Michael Kimball
Test Kitchen Chef
Have you ever stopped halfway through cutting an onion and, tears streaming, cried out to the universe, “There has to be a better way!”? Well, this is the universe finally getting back to you on that. And while we’re at it, let’s go over a few more cooking skills that this “new you” we all keep hearing about should probably know.
How to Cut an Onion
I’m only being a little dramatic when I say, “This will change your life.” Cutting onions doesn’t have to result in absolute allium carnage on your cutting board. Most people start by cutting off both ends: the top and the root. Stop doing that. The real secret here is to keep the root attached. Without it, everything falls apart.
Let’s break this down:
- Cut off the top of the onion.
- Place the onion cut-side down with the root up and cut in half.
- Peel papery layers from both halves.
- Place one half flat-side down with the root pointing away from you. Use only the tip-end of your knife and, starting on either side, make slices that follow the angle of the onion so that each slice stays attached at the root.
- Rotate the onion 90 degrees and make perpendicular slices towards the root. You’ll be left with a neat pile of diced onion and a little root stump to compost.
How to Mince Garlic
What’s a mince and what is the meaning of life? I can’t help you with the second one, but think of a mince as a fine, rough chop.
- Remove a clove from a head of garlic.
- Carefully use the side of your knife to press down on the clove just enough to crack open the papery shell.
- Make a few rough slices to start.
- Plant the tip of your knife above the pile of garlic. Place the hand that isn’t holding the knife flat on top of the front of the blade.
- The front of the knife stays in place and the back pivots back and forth as you chop. When the pieces of garlic spread out, use your knife to bring them back together and repeat until you have a pile of tiny pieces of garlic (like 1/8-inch or smaller).
How to Use a Mortar and Pestle
- Add just enough whole spices—such as Four Corners Peppercorns—to cover the bottom of the mortar (the bowl) and use the pestle (the stick) to grind them down to your desired size.
- Let the weight of the pestle do most of the work: crushing in a circular motion and adding additional pressure as needed.
- Grinding your spices this way releases essential oils that will add depth of flavor to your dishes. Plus you get to feel like a witch preparing a potion, so there’s that.
How to Sear a Steak
Impress everyone, including yourself, by searing up the steak of every carnivore’s dreams with a few simple tips, a meat thermometer, and a little bit of practice.
- Look for a well-marbled cut. Fat = flavor.
- Let your steak of choice sit out, uncovered, for 30 min. to an hour. You will achieve a better sear if the surface of the meat is dry and about room temperature. Otherwise, the initial blast of heat from your hot pan will be wasted evaporating surface liquids.
- You also want to generously season your steak early on, giving the salt enough time to draw out some moisture from the meat, which then dissolves some of the salt and pulls it back into the meat. Try Herbes de Provence Seasoning Salt to add some rustic herb flavor.
- Heat up a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat with just a splash of oil with a high smoke point (like avocado or grapeseed, not olive). The pan should be aggressively hot. Note: Now is probably a good time to tell you to open a window and turn on any vents or fans you have as well. It’s about to get a little smoky up in here.
- Using tongs, carefully lay the steak in the pan away from yourself. If your pan is hot enough, it should start to pop and sizzle immediately. Flip only once steak releases easily from the pan and a dark golden-brown crust has formed.
- There are several variables that affect the timing of this process (the thickness of your steak, the various temperatures involved, and what color apron you’re wearing) so it’s best to rely on other indicators besides time to tell when the steak is done. The big one is internal temperature, so bust out that thermometer and follow this helpful chart.
- Rest the steak for 5 to 10 min. (so it can finish cooking and retain more of the juices) and slice against the grain (shortens the muscle fibers for more tender bites) before serving.
What do you want to learn to cook in 2020? Share with us in the comments below and tag @savoryspiceshop on Instagram as you show off your new skills!.