9 Cooking Techniques I Need to Learn ...

I love to cook … but there's a lot I don't know how to do. Much of it can be self taught, I think, I just haven't gotten around to teaching myself yet – or doing the proper Googling. Maybe you guys have some tips! Take a look at these 9 cooking tips I need to learn and see if you're with me.

1. Proper Cutting and Slicing

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I have no chopping skills whatsoever. I mean, at all. The whole process goes so slowly. I want to chop and slice super fast like all my favorite chefs do when they demonstrate, but I'm always terribly afraid I'll cut off my fingers or something. I know in theory it's not that hard, and I have an excellent knife set, I just don't have the skills to go with it.

2. Grilling

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I love grilled food. However, I have never personally grilled anything in my life. I have no idea how to do it properly. One answer to this problem is to allow my father to teach me. I love my dad without reservation, but like many fathers where grills are concerned, I know this will end up turning into a three hour lecture concerning the virtues of propane versus charcoal versus other things, and we'll never get around to actually discussing food logistics.

3. Sauteing

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Technically, I can saute. I'm just not very good at it. I kind of jerry-rig saute, if that makes sense. I mean, I don't do it properly, but it still gets done – after a fashion. I usually end up burning the first batch of whatever I'm trying to make.

4. Poaching

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I would love to try poached eggs. There was a passage in Josh Kilmer-Purcell's The Bucolic Plague that made me really want to try eggs cooked this way. However, I'm deathly afraid of the technique. I'll be honest, I only recently cooked my first fried egg (but I did it perfectly! First try, not a broken yolk in site – and they were sunny side up, at that!), so I figure that maybe within the next twenty...something years, I'll be brave enough to try poaching.

5. Cooking Beef

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This is embarrassing, but I trust y'all not to lau—well, to be nice about it if you have to laugh at me. When I say “cooking beef,” what I actually mean is “steak and hamburgers.” Every hamburger I have ever made has ended up raw in the middle – not just rare, but raw. Ditto steak. I know I can cut them open to check, and use meat thermometers, et cetera – and I do. But I would love to learn how to just tell, I would love to simply know, innately, when they're about done.

6. Breading

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Obviously I know how to bread meats and things. What I do not know is how to keep the breading from getting soggy and mushy and horrible. The only time my breading turns out good is when I am frying in oil, but I really only do that when making chicken katsu or something similar. Most of the time, I like to bake and that's where I run into trouble. Even my Shake and Bake ends up soggy. I don't understand it at all.

7. Thickening

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Every time I try to thicken stews or gravy by taking out hot liquid, mixing in flour or cornstarch, and then pouring it back into the pot or pan, I instead end up with lots of little flour or cornstarch lumps. It never mixes up and dissolves properly! I don't understand this either.

8. Making Bread

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I don't fail at making bread, because I haven't ever tried. The very thought intimidates me. I would love to make my own bread, because homemade bread is delicious. I need to stop letting yeast bully me.

9. Making Pasta

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This is the same as above. I love fresh pasta, and I would love to save money and to be able to experiment by making it myself. I'm intimidated by the whole process, though. In theory, I know it can't be that hard and that I have to try, or else I've failed before cracking the first egg.

I would love to take some cooking classes to learn some of these things – or Google. I'm not one of the Worst Cooks in America or anything, I think I have a decent raw talent (based on the fact that the Better Half does not get sick or make faces at dinner), but I'd just like to be a sharper cook. What do you want to learn to do in the kitchen?

Top Photo Credit: yellobagman - back but busy

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