7 Simple Kitchen Hacks
There are tons of great little tricks that can help anyone greatly improve their cooking game, and perhaps get a few people interested in further developing their skills. Here is a run-down of some of the most useful cooking hacks that can benefit everyone, regardless of skill level and change how you cook for the better.
1. Reconditioning leftover fondue
Fondue is a fun and delicious special-occasion food but one of the downsides is that it always eventually cools down and firms up. Keep the cheese flowing with this method for serving and reheating: fill a microwaveable bowl one-third full of boiling water, then nest a slightly smaller microwaveable bowl inside it. Pour the fondue into the smaller bowl and serve. To reheat, microwave the double-bowl setup for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.
2. Heated breakfast dishes are classy
A. When you pour hot coffee into a cold mug, the mug absorbs heat, making the coffee cool down faster. To keep coffee hot longer, preheat the mugs by filling them with hot tap water and letting them sit while the coffee brews. When the coffee is ready, pour out the hot water.
B. Prevent room-temperature plates from cooling down a perfect hot breakfast. While your bread is toasting, place the plates on top of the toaster oven. The radiating heat warms them right up and delivers eggs, pancakes, and other breakfast items to the table still hot.
3. Reinvigorating leftover turkey
Microwaving leftover turkey often dries it out. Try one of these ingenious methods to warm your leftovers while keeping the meat moist.
A. Place slices of leftover turkey in a steamer basket set in a pot of simmering water, then cover the pot with a lid and check it every few minutes. The turkey heats up quickly and stays juicy.
B. Wrap leftover portions in aluminum foil, stacking any sliced pieces, and place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to a 275-degree oven and heat until the meat registers 130 degrees. Timing will vary based on the shape and size of the leftover turkey pieces.
C. Place any large skin-on pieces skin side down in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, heating until the skin recrisps.
4. Reconstituting frozen gravy
Defrosting and reheating leftover gravy is a tricky task—the sauce tends to weep and separate when rewarmed. This is because when gravy is thickened with flour or cornstarch (the two most common thickeners), the starch granules release long, straight chains of glucose called amylose. The stringy amylose molecules tangle and form a net-like structure that gives the gravy its thick consistency. When gravy cools, the amylose crystallizes and the net-like structure breaks down, causing it to weep or break. But this unattractive trait is fixable. Simply bring your defrosted gravy to a full boil and then whisk it vigorously to return it to its normal thick, emulsified consistency.
5. Reheating leftover steak (so it doesn’t suck)
Our best method for cooking steaks—slowly warming them in the oven and then searing them in a hot skillet—turns out to be the best method for rewarming leftover steak, as well. The reheated steaks come out only slightly less juicy than freshly cooked ones, and their crusts are actually more crisp. Place leftover steaks on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and warm them on the middle rack of a 250-degree oven until the steaks register 110 degrees (roughly 30 minutes for 1½-inch-thick steaks, but timing will vary according to thickness and size). Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Sear the steaks on both sides until crisp, 60 to 90 seconds per side. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving. After resting, the centers should be at medium-rare temperature (125 to 130 degrees).
6. Two ways to make tea for twelve
A. To brew a large batch of tea without the mess of fishing out hot tea bags, tie the tea bag strings together, then slide a skewer or chopstick through the knot before tightening it. Position the skewer across the top of the pot, with the tea bags dangling in the water. When the tea has finished brewing, remove the skewer and all the tea bags simultaneously.
B. Try this trick to keep the tea bags from getting lost in the water, whether you’re making hot or iced tea. Crimp the tabs of the bags to fit through the holes of a slotted spoon and prop the spoon across the opening of the pot or pitcher while the tea steeps. The strings aren’t pulled in, and removing the bags is as simple as lifting the spoon.
7. Preserving piping-hot pancakes
A warm oven can be used to keep pancakes hot, but this method sometimes results in a dried-out breakfast. Try the following trick for keeping pancakes as hot and moist as when they first come out of the skillet.
1. Bring 2 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Place a large heatproof plate on top of the saucepan.
2. As the pancakes are cooked, place them on the warm plate until serving time.