How to Cook Restaurant-Quality Food

Last year the always worthwhile Adam Gopnik wrote a great piece about cookbooks. Delightful reading for anyone unusually interested in cooking. For the rest of us, there was one big overarching practical nugget:

…hyper-seasoning, and, in particular, high salting, is a big part of what makes pro cooks’ food taste like pro cooks’ food….

Mark Peel, in his Campanile cookbook, comes near to giving the game away: “We chefs all lie about our mashed potatoes,” he admits. “We don’t tell you we’ve used 1½ pounds of cream and butter with 1¾ pounds of potatoes. You don’t need to know.” (Joël Robuchon, the king of his generation of French cooks, first became famous for a purée that had an even higher proportion of butter beaten into starch.)…

After reading hundreds of cookbooks, you may have the feeling that every recipe, every cookbook, is an attempt to get you to attain this ideal sugarsalt-saturated-fat state without having to see it head on, just as every love poem is an attempt to maneuver a girl or a boy into bed by talking as fast, and as eloquently, as possible about something else.

I've learned a bit about cooking over the past several months. Below, I add two points of advice to Gopnik's:

1. Add salt.

2. Buy rotisserie chickens from the supermarket.

3. Buy a rice cooker.

3 Responses to How to Cook Restaurant-Quality Food

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    I have three go-to techniques:

    1) More butter

    2) More salt

    3) Sugar…even in savory foods. That’s my real secret.

  2. Dave Cherry says:

    The Gopnik article was very interesting–thanks for posting! (In my own cooking, I seem to do just fine with minimal salt, however!)

  3. AskMetafilter has had two threads on the topic.

    Wow, TypePad’s comment preview doesn’t work very well. It cuts off after the first line.

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