Three cooking tips from Thomas Keller

Chicken breasts with tarragon

During a recent interview with world-famous chef Thomas Keller, The Splendid Table asked him how home cooks could improve their skills. He responded with three pieces of advice; here is a summary of the lengthier reply NPR printed in their article:

Learn to salt properly: Among the other tips he gives about salting, we found his advice about salting technique especially enlightening: “Season your food properly — not by seasoning a piece of meat with salt when you’re really close to it, but by actually holding your hand up rather high, having the salt between your fingers and letting it fall. As it falls through the air, it’s dispersed out evenly over the piece of meat, the vegetables or whatever you’re using.”

Season with vinegar: Vinegar can add flavor – but it also can just add brightening: “Sometimes you want to make a vinegar sauce. We use vinegar as a base for the sauce and we want to be able to taste that vinegar. Other times we’ll just add a couple drops of vinegar at the finish to again do the same thing that salt does and bring up that flavor or enhance that flavor.”

Temper your food: By tempering, he means “Bringing your food to room temperature before you actually begin to cook it. It helps the food cook evenly, at the right temperature and for the right length of time.”

And the recipe he would have all cooks learn to cook? He suggests his roast chicken recipe from the Bouchon cookbook.

Photo of Thomas Keller’s Chicken Breasts with Tarragon from Serious Eats

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  • ellabee  on  December 29, 2013

    I wish Artisan would put out "cook's versions" of The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Ad Hoc at Home: smaller, much lighter-weight formats, with text organized to be read and used in the kitchen. There's much to learn from Thomas Keller. My favorite of his tips for becoming a better cook is to repeat dishes often — to adjust them to your taste, to get skill and speed at the techniques involved, to internalize the recipe. [He's not alone in offering this good advice; Judy Rodgers and Patricia Wells did also, among others.]

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