Professional chef shares brilliant, time-saving cooking hack: 'You just changed my prep'

Morgan Greenwald
·3-min read

Though many chefs go to culinary school to learn the cooking basics, most professionals will agree that the real learning is done on the job. Just like with any other profession, it takes authentic, hands-on experience to learn how to perfect a crème brûlée and pick up helpful cooking hacks.

Thankfully for us home chefs, in a recent Reddit thread in r/Cooking, more than one thousand chefs shared their “golden tips to cooking” that they learned on the job. The thread is full of useful cooking tips and general kitchen advice.

Below, we’re rounded up some of the best cooking tips within the thread. Keep reading to learn how you can slowly master the art of culinary science!

1. Substitute bacon fat for butter or olive oil.

If you’re throwing away your bacon fat, then you’re not taking full advantage of everything the meaty staple has to offer.

“[Bacon fat] will obviously make the best gravy, but the pro tip is to use bacon fat instead of butter or olive oil to sauté veggies, especially leafy stuff like kale, spinach or greens,” one person revealed. They added that you can use the fat “anywhere you’d use butter, lard or oil to infuse a bacon flavor.”

To save the bacon fat for later, all you have to do is filter the cooled fat through a paper towel into a coffee mug or any other heat-resistant vessel. “It stays fresh uncovered in the fridge for months,” according to the chef.

2. A little bit of flavoring can go a long way.

“A few drops of a hot sauce like Crystal or a fish sauce can be unrecognizable in a vinaigrette, dip or sauce but it can take it to otherworldly levels,” one chef noted. “A touch of heat, umami, sugar or acid can turn a flat dish into something people crave. Little drops, add more. Stop when you taste it and start salivating.”

3. You can easily slice cherry tomatoes using two plastic lids.

One chef has an easy hack for slicing cherry tomatoes that involves two plastic lids.

“Place cherry tomatoes in between two plastic lids to cut them in half,” they advised. “You can cut 15 to 20 at a time this way instead of one at a time.” According to other users, this also works with tiny mozzarella balls, olives and grapes.

4. Always dry your ingredient before cooking.

One step that many home chefs skip is drying their ingredients before throwing them in the pan. Doing this prevents your final product from being too watery.

“The secret that I was never taught growing up but has made such a huge difference in my cooking is thoroughly drying meat, fish, and veg with paper towel before cooking,” one person said. “My mom’s cooking was always too watery, not crispy or caramelized, because she missed this step, and to be fair, it isn’t mentioned in most recipes.”

5. Clean while you cook.

Though many amateur cooks leave the cleaning until after the cooking is done, most professional chefs agree that a clean kitchen is more conducive to cooking.

“You move faster if you maintain the discipline of ‘everything has a home, and if it’s not in my hand, it’s in its home.’ Reason? You can rely on everything being exactly in its place,” one person explained.

“Stay clean … not just by wiping up crumbs after you use a cutting board (keep a sanitized towel nearby for a quick wipe and it becomes second nature), but by always keeping ‘landing spaces’ clear,” they continued. “You go faster when your space is flexible, and that only happens if you stay clean.”

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