7 Ways to Inject the Most Flavor Into Your Food
7 Ways to Inject the Most Flavor Into Your Food
What’s the difference between mediocre or “good” food and GREAT! food? It’s all about the flavor baby. Learning how to coax the maximum amount of flavor out of your ingredients, or adding in extra flavor is the key to making you the best cook you can be each and every day. 7 Ways to Inject the Most Flavor Into Your Food will give you a solid foundation and understanding of ingredients and procedures to maximise your results today. Remember to always experiment and explore, that’s a big part of what makes cooking fun and exciting. Learn some basic principles and techniques and expand your culinary arsenal.
Salt is a naturally occuring mineral. It is also the only rock that we eat. Salt has the amazing ability to enhance flavors in the foods we eat. It has also been used for centuries to preserve food. A touch of salt is used many times even in sweet dishes to accentuate flavor. Kosher salt is one of the best forms to cook with. It spreads evenly, is fairly inexpensive, and provides consistent results. A good quality sea salt is recommended to be used as a finishing salt for your dishes. A brine is like a salt bath that will not only add incredible flavor, but also a degree of tenderness and juicy-ness that is unparalleled. Always remember during long cooking processes use salt sparingly in the beginning. As the flavors concentrate the salt will be more pronounced. There is a thin line between food that is perfectly seasoned and too salty. Taste early and often, adjust as you go.
Acid adds brightness. It is often the hidden ingredient that is responsible for that flavor pop. Fresh squeezed citrus juices, apple cider, rice, or red wine vinegar are all great items to have on hand in your pantry. Usually, when food is seasoned properly with salt, yet still tastes fairly flat, a splash of acid is exactly what is lacking. Young Living vitality citrus oils are great to have on hand, 1-2 drops pack the punch of the juice, and zest 5-7 whole fruit. Using the zest of citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, or oranges will also add amazing flavor to most dishes savory or sweet. Investing in a quality microplane is a tool that will be invaluable. Even our favorite NY cheesecake recipe contains lemon zest.
When you cook with alcohol always start with something that you would want to drink. Avoid cooking wine at all cost. Don’t be intimidated, the alcohol will burn off leaving you with great flavor. So many of our favorite pasta sauces, or braises contain wine, vodka, or whiskey. Alcohol, when used properly, bonds to both fat and water molecules, carrying wonderful aromas and flavors. Make an awesome pan sauce by adding some white wine directly to the pan. Scrape up all those yummy crusty bits, reduce the wine down by half, and swirl in some cold butter. You can also sprinkle in some fresh chopped herbs (we are getting to that) and then pour your awesome sauce over chicken, fish or beef. These are the flavors that we savor neighbor.
4) Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs, when added at the end of the cooking process or in cold applications, bring immense flavor to your dishes. Remember fresh herbs are delicate and we get the best results, similar to essential oils, when we do not subject them to high heat. Some flat leaf Italian parsley, cilantro, basil, or tarragon will bring a depth of flavor that is surprisingly complex for something so simple. It is also the best excuse for starting up your own little herb garden. Embrace the herbs.
5) Brown and Crusty
Searing food creates incredible texture and flavor. Whether you sear your food at the beginning or end of the cooking process, always be sure not to skip this crucial step. The post cook sear is also the greatest and easiest way to incorporate a torch into your cooking. Let’s face it…there aren’t too many kitchen tools more awesome than a torch. Just be sure to always have a fire extinguisher close by JIC! You may have heard of the Maillard reaction, and if not you can use this term to impress your friends and family with your fast knowledge. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, as well as many other foods, undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912.
When you bring a liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer and allow to cook for a period of time, this is called a reduction. Two things occur, evaporation and concentration. Countless sauces, gravies, soups, and stews are exponentially enhanced using this process. Give it a try. Take some regular chicken stock or broth, taste it, then reduce it by half and taste again. It will not only be thicker, it will also have an intense, incredibly rich flavor.
Caramelization is the browning of sugar, it is a process used and described extensively in cooking, resulting in a sweet nutty flavors and brown color. If you have ever tasted onions that are sweated (no color) as opposed to onions that have been caramelized, you will know that the flavors are completely different, almost to the point that it is hard to believe they come from the same ingredient. Taste some melted butter compared to a brown butter and you will recognize the difference in flavor immediately.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when travelling down the flavor road, it is a great place to start your journey. Get yourself some interesting, different salts, and vinegars, a few good pots and pans, maybe a torch, and get in the kitchen. There is a whole smorgasbord of flavors waiting for you to discover and enjoy!
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