Do a quick google search and you will find countless cooking hacks. From putting chocolate in your chilli to adding coffee to your brownie batter, it seems like everyone these days has their own trick of the trade. But how do you take an easy, everyday recipe from good to great? We asked our chefs for the best ways to elevate even the simplest dishes at home. Because you deserve better than bland food.
Braden Reardon, Carbone
When I start a ragu or bolognese, I saute my mirepoix in bone marrow. It adds a level of meaty, melty goodness that just cannot be achieved with just butter or oil. If you do not have access to bone marrow, then the next best thing is to add parm rind when simmering (P.S. always save your parm rinds by storing them in the freezer). Whether you are making Pomodoro or Cacio e Pepe, parm rind will add salt, umami and richness.
Jowett Yu, Ho Lee Fook
Mushroom powder is kind of my secret weapon. A lot of Chinese cooking uses chicken powder, but I find that mushroom powder gives even more umami and depth. I use it to season literally everything, including dumpling fillings, wok-fried meats and vegetables, and sauces.
Karys Logue, Butter
For a lot of baked recipes like cookies, brownies or muffins, switching different fats and sweeteners can be a great way to mix things up. Generally, when baking denser items like these, it is okay to use a 1:1 ratio when substituting. For example, replace regular butter with equal parts browned butter, or replace white sugar with equal parts honey. This is a great way to take your old recipes and create completely new flavour profiles.
Billy Otis, Taqueria Super Macho
I am a soup guy and one of my favourite tricks is adding in raw, whole nuts during the blending process. You can use cashews, almonds, whatever you like. I definitely recommend using a stand blender for this. Just make sure the nuts are fresh and good quality and your soup will be extra creamy, even if you choose to not add dairy. With the weather cooling down, now is the perfect time to try this out!
Tony Ferriera, Black Sheep Restaurants
An easy way to elevate your salads is by adding fresh herbs. I find that herbs are underutilized in general among home cooks. Maybe this is because a lot of recipes use them only for garnish, or maybe because of the way they are packaged where it is either too much or too little. But honestly, they will add so much nuance. Just use whatever fresh herbs you might have and toss them in with your greens. I especially love to use fennel and mint.
Remember, not all pro-tips are good tips. Next time you are cooking at home, make sure you do not fall for any of these cooking myths. Looking to switch things up even more? Check out our chefs’ favourite unusual food pairings.