As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and cooking is no exception to this rule. To become a skilled at-home chef it may take a little elbow grease, but luckily for you there a few well-known and well-used cooking hacks that are sure to make your meal prep oh so much easier. Over the years, our very own Chef Christophe has perfected a few of these hacks and counts them as invaluable to his cooking process. So without further ado, here are Christophe’s top five kitchen hacks as well as one tasty bonus dinner recipe that you can use to practice your brand new skills.
Helpful kitchen hacks for easier meal prep:
1. Are the eggs still fresh?
If your eggs are getting dangerously close to their expiration date you may want to check to make sure they are still edible. How would you do this without cracking each open and observing the evidence? Easy. Grab a bowl and gently submerse the raw eggs in cold tap water. You’ll know if the eggs are fresh if they sink to the bottom of the bowl with ease. Any floaters? Toss them out — they’ve passed their prime. When eggs expire the liquid inside begins to evaporate and will leave only a gas bubble behind. This trick is especially useful if you buy your eggs from a local farmer’s market or store your eggs of all ages together in the fridge.
2. No time to make stock? Do it while you’re snoozing.
Stock is a healthy and important base for countless dishes in the home cook’s kitchen. However, making stock from scratch, though high in health benefits, can take quite a while and who has time for that? Instead, try gathering the ingredients you’d like to include in your stock and cook them in a dutch oven, uncovered, baking at 225° for 8 hours, or while you’re sleeping at night. If you don’t like for your stock to be too rich, try cooking it in a slow cooker on the low setting for the full 8 hours. When you wake, you’ll be able to skim, strain, and allow your stock to cool off to room temp and refrigerate for days of easy dinners.
3. No knife skills? Chop your cherry tomatoes like a pro with this tip.
Cherry tomatoes or even grape cherry tomatoes can be tough to chop without getting juice all over the kitchen counter. For this hack, grab two flat plates from the pantry and one sharp knife. Place all the tomatoes on one plate and the other plate on top of the tomatoes. With one hand on the top plate, guide your knife horizontally across the middle of the two plates and presto — you’ve got sliced tomatoes. This trick will work for grapes too!
4. Recycle old ketchup bottles to create picture perfect pancakes.
Once you’ve used up a bottle of ketchup, clean it out thoroughly. Once it’s dried, store it with your pancake mix and when you’re in the mood for a hefty stack of pancakes, break out the bottle. Fill the bottle with your batter and squeeze out perfectly sized pancakes each and every time.
5. Love Bacon — Hate the mess.
Bake up a batch of crispy bacon without all the mess with this expert cooking hack. Ditch the cast iron skillet and instead line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil (you can even splurge on two layers of foil if you’d like). Fold the foil back and forth, creating 1-inch sections across the entire sheet. Voila! You now have a wavy disposable bacon rack. This will elevate your bacon to keep the grease away and allow hot air to cook the bacon more evenly and thoroughly.
Easy Dinner Recipe from Christophe’s Kitchen using all 5 Cooking Hacks
Now that you’ve gotten rid of your old eggs, have plenty of stock prepped in your fridge, sliced your cherry tomatoes with flair, have your pancake bottle at-the-ready and are trying to resist your perfectly prepped bacon, give this recipe a go.
- KNOW Better Pancakes
- First things first, scrape the meat from the bones in your stock.
- Then, roast that meat in the lard from the bacon you’ve just cooked up until it’s crisp.
- Mix in some diced onions, and add in the tomatoes.
- Season your dish with smoked chipotle and chopped cilantro to taste.
- Cook your Know Better pancakes on a flat top after placing tasty bacon bites inside the batter.
- Heat up the rest of the bacon lard and cook a fresh egg sunny side up.
- Place your pancakes directly onto a plate, top with your cooked meat and cover with your sunny side up egg.
Now doesn’t that look yummy? For more dishes from Chef Christophe check out our menu, drool over our Instagram feed, chat it up with us on Facebook, and get daily useful cooking tips each day on Twitter. Cheers!