By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional
I have been cooking for more decades than many of you have been around. When you start as young as I did, you tend to become set in your ways. How you read a recipe, how you measure your ingredients, how you plan your meals…they all stem from your cooking origins.
Because I was so young when I started cooking, one of the core elements of my culinary training was severely delayed and I didn’t even realize it until about 10 years ago. I’m talking about the ability to butcher meat. I couldn’t even cut up a whole chicken. My mother did it when I was young or bought meat already butchered. When I started grocery shopping for myself as an adult, I would go to Western Beef in NYC and buy 1/2 a side of beef and simply tell the butcher what I wanted to get out of it. End of story.
As my abilities as a chef grew and I started learning this and that from other accomplished professionals, I knew I needed to have a better understanding of the product I was using. So, I set about educating myself on the various types of animals, the flavor profiles associated with them and their cuts of meat. I learned how to tell by sight if a chicken was free range or coop raised. I learned to feel the beef or pork and determine the quality of the feed it had lived upon.
Knowing everything you can about your product not only helps you be a better chef, but shows you how to effectively use the parts that normally go to waste. I mean really, how many of you buy a whole chicken, turkey or duck to roast and the first thing you do is throw out the next and gizzards. I know I did for more years than I care to admit. Now, I use them to make stock. Heck, I have been known to freeze the bones after Sunday dinner, so that I can boil them at a later date for fresh chicken or ham stock to use in soup.
It takes time to learn all of this and there isn’t really any rush. Start with the basics in the infographic provided above. Over the next few months, you will see a host of similar infographics to help you become the type of cook or chef that you wish to be. From kitchen utensil basics to vegetable guidelines (what parts can and can’t be eaten.) We will help you move beyond what most will teach, so that you can truly decide for yourself how and what to use. We will even separate fact from myth and put those old wives tales to bed, once and for all.
Use these learning moments as teachable moments for your kids, while your at it. Coming from personal experience, kids like knowing that mom or dad has to learn things too! So do it together, create more memories as a family and everyone in your life will be the better off for it.
If you have questions or ideas on articles or educational pieces you would like to see us do here at Simply Ardynn, please feel free to submit via the comment section below through our Contact Page