Greatest Cooking Skill

Posted by in Cooking Tips

greatest cooking skill resourcefulnessYou may think that you need a slew of skills to be a good cook. Well, it certainly helps. The greatest cooking skill you need to cultivate doesn’t involve knives or fancy cookware. It is simply resourcefulness.

Honing the Greatest Cooking Skill

By resourcefulness, I mean the ability to adapt with a recipe and its ingredients. It means not panicking if you don’t have vegetable broth on hand. It means that a pot pie without mushrooms is just as good as one with them. It’s all about call and response.

Here’s an example. I wanted to make a shepherd pie for dinner. The recipe I was working from called for a pastry crust. Being gluten intolerant, anything pastry means time to modify a recipe. Instead, I remembered a wonderful recipe I saw for mashed potatoes.

I whipped up a batch and spooned them on the pie ingredients. The recipe I recalled mentioning dotting the top with butter to get a yummy brown crust on the potatoes. I did as instructed. It wasn’t the exact recipe, but it worked.

Resourcefulness in the Kitchen

Yes, it does take some patience and willpower to achieve. It’s easy to freak out if you don’t have an ingredient. However, you can modify some recipes easily. That’s the true joy of cooking versus baking. The latter won’t let you get away with that attitude; cooking will.

It involves a few things to make it work for you on a day-to-day basis. First, you need a toolbox of techniques. Learn different skills so you can use one on the spur of the moment. Know how to saute, to braise, and to sear properly.

Second, keep your pantry stocked with the staples. Think of things like diced tomatoes, canned beans, or packaged broths in a pinch. And I would add, know what’s in your pantry.  It helps to know what you have to work with.

Finally, practice keeping your emotions in check. Don’t let yourself get upset if things are just right. Work with it. Roll with the punches. Relax.

The best home cooks know how to use the greatest cooking skill to their advantage. Imagine making a meal where you are not frazzled, but enjoying the challenge and the process. Doesn’t that sound better than holding up dinner with questionable results while you find someone to run to the store for you? Chris DR

photo credit: Homemade chicken pot pie at the Garden Cafe and Brazos Bakery via photopin (license)