'techniques' on Serious Eats

Homebrewing: How to Make Your Own Crystal Malt

Crystal malts are a staple in almost every beer recipe. Light crystal malt, like C-20, is used in pale ales, the darker C-120 can be used in stouts, and every recipe in between calls for some variety of crystal. Since crystal malts are among the few styles that do not need to be mashed, they are ideal for extract and partial-mash brewers to use as steeping malts. Anyone can make this fabulously versatile malt at home. All it takes is any standard pale malt, some water and a few hours in the oven. More

Cocktail 101: How to Make Cocktail Onions

Consider the Gibson. Cousin to the martini, its only distinguishing characteristic is the use of a cocktail onion as its garnish. A great cocktail onion is crisp and carries a hint of other flavors, beyond just the piquant onion. Cocktail onions, being small, are generally sweeter and less bracing than their full-sized counterparts. When you buy cocktail onions in the store, you have several choices. But many of them include additives and preservatives that would embalm a horse. More

How to Make a Gastrique

Think of gastrique as the simplest version of sweet and sour sauce. Once you learn the technique—caramelize sugar (or sometimes honey), combine it with equal parts vinegar, and reduce it slightly to make a tart, slightly thickened syrup—the flavoring varieties are endless. Add fresh fruit or berries, a dash of juice like tomato or orange, alcohol, citrus peel, herbs, spices or chiles. More

How to Prep a Chicken Paillard

I'm no culinary blowhard—half the time I can't retain the fancy-pants French cooking terms anyway. But I am big fan of paillard. For such an ostentatious term, one that seems like it should describe a ballet move or a European building, paillard is one of the least complex and most approachable food preparations I've learned. More

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs

True, making breadcrumbs from scratch is nothing fancier than pulverizing, toasting, and maybe seasoning old bread. The real charm of the homemade stuff: A spare half a loaf could inspire new dinner ideas on the spot—if you know how to use it. Read on for tips on custom-making crumbs to suit your meatloaf, pan-fried cutlets, baked chicken fingers, mac and cheeses, and other meals. More

How to Cook En Papillote

After a week of cooking almost exclusively en papillote, I've found there's a lot to like about foods wrapped like little presents. Veggies, meat, fish, or whatever else you decide to stuff into the little package, comes out aromatic, tender, and flavorful— not at all the1980s-style health food you may be picturing. More

The 5 Commandments of Sautéing Food

When food is sautéed properly, it gets that golden, crispy crust and juicy, tender interior. But there's more to pulling it off than food-to-pan contact. Here are the five commandments of sautéing so that you can go forth against the evil that is gray, steamed food. More

How to Sweat Vegetables

There's nothing like the smell of aromatic vegetables sweating away on the stove. It's a great first step in preparing soups, sauces, stews, and braises and is so easy to do. The technique uses a gentle heat to soften veggies to gently draw out their flavors. Learn how, step by step. More

How to Salt Food

Proper salting results in being able to taste the ingredients better, not the salt. The trick: Season along all stages of the cooking process (not just the end) and continue to taste, taste, taste as you go. More

How to Blanch Fruits and Vegetables

"Think of it as foreplay for fruits and vegetables." While blanching may not be the technique with the most mystique—you bring the water to a boil, drop in the goods, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking—the benefits of blanching are where the allure's at. Blanched foods heat quickly so they retain color and texture, are depleted of their excess water (seems backwards, right?), and cook evenly so they're less likely to scorch or wilt during sautéing, frying, or other preparations that might happen later. In addition, ones you might normally find bitter, like greens, or fibrous, like carrots, become noticeably less so after a quick jacuzzi. That's why many vegetables in the professional kitchen are first... More

How to Make Clarified Butter

When butter is clarified—the milk fats boiled out and separated, until only thick, golden butter fat remains—its smoke point is raised to, well, let's just say it's high enough to sear a thick steak or panfry a potato in. It also keeps longer than whole butter and imparts a concentrated, caramelly and delightfully nutty flavor More

Technique of the Week: How to Caramelize Onions

Note: Each week Kumiko Mitarai will break down simple, but hardly ever explained, cooking techniques. The step-by-step lessons will feature corresponding recipes so you can put that basic technique into practice. This week she caramelizes onions. Take it away, Kumiko! —The Mgmt. Use This Technique Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Bacon » I used to think that browned onions and caramelized onions were pretty much the same thing. The difference is actually pretty dramatic. Onions can be browned in just a few minutes and have a toasted, sometimes charred taste on the surface. But when onions are caramelized, they develop a deep sweetness and a beautiful amber color that goes all the way through the onion. It's an... More

Mastering Knife Skills: Can a Book Make the Cut?

©iStockPhoto/lbrinck The boy I was seeing last year, a cook, passed on his knives to me before I started my first gig in a restaurant kitchen. They were his set from culinary school--sturdy and unfancy in their utilitarian black case. His nonchalance gave way to unfamiliar gravity as he ceremoniously bestowed them upon me. He demonstrated how to sharpen them, first with stone and then with steel, and looked concerned when I was catching on slowly, if at all. Knives are serious business—any cook knows that. On my first day in the kitchen, the cooks asked to see my knives. "They're hand-me-downs from a friend," I explained. But the chefs proved far more interested in showing off their own. They... More

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