What you need to know about our jobs at The Takeout is we don’t fashion ourselves as experts in food and drink. We approach every day as an opportunity to get paid to learn something new, and share that newfound knowledge for the betterment of ourselves, and more importantly, our readers.
There’s a lot of cooking tips, recipes, techniques, and useful factoids that we’ve picked up in the last 12 months, ideas we’ll likely be using here on out. These were some of our favorites.
The double crisper bacon technique. We first encountered this in The Austin Cookbook, where we read about a restaurant called Joe’s Bakery that lightly coats its bacon in flour, chills it, before frying on a skillet. This achieves an added crisp and lacy texture to the bacon, nearly reminiscent of chicken fried steak.
How to spot a dirty beer glass. If you’ve ever noticed bubbles clinging stubbornly to the sides of your beer glass, this isn’t a good thing. It takes just two minutes to learn how to spot a dirty pint, and you’re saving yourself from a lifetime of gunky glasses.
The 3-3-2-2 steak frying method. From Chicago butcher Rob Levitt comes this handy technique for reluctant steak cookers. By constantly flipping your steak (1-inch ribeyes, in our case) while cooking over medium heat (335 degrees Fahrenheit), you’re avoiding that gray-pink-gray interior gradation, where the steak is overcooked closer to the surface. I’ve been using this technique and my steaks have come out uniformly dark pink on the inside.
The Whiskey Infinity Bottle. Helluva fun project to embark if you’re into whiskey and surprises.
Roasting a chicken right on the rack. Perhaps you already have an elevated roasting rack. But if you don’t, rather than letting the chicken sit on the baking sheet, consider placing the bird right on the middle rack, with a tray of vegetables on the bottom rack so the chicken fats can drip down. We actually prefer the extra space between the chicken and the roasting vegetables, because in our experience with a roasting rack the chicken’s underside doesn’t quite achieve that crispiness we seek (our unscientific theory: more steam, less air flow?).
3-ingredient carnitas. The revelation with this recipe is that less is sometimes more, and by just using pork shoulder, white onions and chili powder, you can achieve really freakin’ delicious carnitas at home. You really ought to try this sometime.
Make roux for gumbo in your microwave. This technique comes from a New Orleans native who happens to be one of the most serious food obsessives we know—so we can trust this technique is legit. And it is. And here we were standing over the stove stirring for 45 minutes straight.
A masterclass on perfect fried rice. Normally we’re careful about using hyperbolic descriptors such as “perfect,” but applying all the techniques here, there really is no other way to describe the fried rice this recipe yields.
Asparagus cooking method. Steaming asparagus in a canning jar. Who knew? Having read about this method in my local paper’s food section, I’ll never sauté mushy asparagus again.
The slow-pour method. It’s not just which beer is in your glass but how it’s served that matters. Patience is a virtue when it comes to pouring pilsners, and there’s a 5-minute technique that unlocks more of these delicate beers’ aromas and flavors.
Warm mugs make lovely coffee. This “hack” takes all of 5 seconds and has markedly improved my morning routine. We’ll never suffer a chilly mug again.
What’s the best cooking technique, method, hack, or recipe you learned in 2018? Share with us in the comments below.