Strike Only When the Pan is Hot
The temperature of the cooking surface will drop the minute food is added, so don’t rush the preheating step at the start of most sautés. Wait for the oil to shimmer when cooking vegetables. When cooking proteins, wait until you see the first wisps of smoke rise from the oil.
Season with Sugar, Too
Browned food tastes better, and the best way to accelerate this process is with a pinch of sugar sprinkled on lean proteins (chicken and seafood) or vegetables.
Save Your Parmesan Rinds
Parmesan rinds add savory notes to soups, sauces, and stews. Once the cheese has been grated, store the rind in the freezer. Let the rind simmer away in almost any long-cooked dish. Do fish out and discard the rind before serving!
Never Discard the Fond
Those caramelized browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan after sautéing are packed with savory flavor. Deglaze the hot pan with liquid (wine, broth, or juice) and scrape them free with a wooden spoon to incorporate the fond into sauces, soups, or stews.
Capitalize on Meat’s Juices
As meat rests, it releases flavorful juices that can be added back to the skillet when making a pan sauce. If the juices are plentiful enough to thin the sauce, allow it to simmer an additional minute or two to restore its proper consistency.
Always Toast Nuts
Toasting nuts brings out their aromatic oils, contributing to a stronger, more complex flavor and aroma. When using more than 1 cup, oven toast nuts on a roomy sheet pan. The oven offers not only more space than a skillet, but also more even heat than a stove with less need for stirring.
Bloom Spices in Fat
To intensify the flavor of ground spices and dried herbs, cook them for a minute or two in a little butter or oil before adding liquid to the pan. If the recipe calls for sautéing aromatics (like onions), add the spices to the fat in the pan when the vegetables are nearly cooked.
Brown Your Bread
Always bake bread until the crust is well browned—even if that means leaving the loaf in the oven beyond its recommended doneness temperature (most dough contains plenty of moisture and won’t dry out). Flavor compounds in a browned crust are volatile and travel inward toward the crumb, enhancing the flavor of the loaf inside as well as out.
Brown Pies and Pastries
Browning equals flavor so don’t take breads, pies, or even cakes out of the oven until the exterior is deep golden brown. We bake all pies in a glass plate so we can track color development. When working with puff pastry or other flaky dough on a baking sheet, we lift up the bottom of individual pieces and look for even browning.
Underbake Chocolate Desserts
The flavor compounds in chocolate are extremely volatile, so the longer you cook brownies or cookies the more flavor is lost. Err on the side of underbaking and remember that residual heat will continue to cook baked goods as they cool.