Sometimes kitchen slipups can lead to culinary innovation—just ask the caveman who fumbled the first bison fillet over an open flame. Most times, however, they just slow you down and make cooking far more frazzled than it needs to be. While the following blunders are common, the good news is they’re all easy to fix, and the remedies will improve your cooking forever.
1. Not Following a Recipe
While GPS has significantly improved our relationship with directions, we’re still not too keen on following someone else’s lead. So it makes sense that many guys would shun a recipe, which is like a road map to dinner. Overcome the resistance. Recipes are the single best way to elevate your cooking from the pasta and red sauce of your college days to a meal worthy of serving to your future mother-in-law. They don’t just help you create a single meal; they teach you flavor and texture combinations, as well as proper proportions.
2. Not Being Prepared
Don’t head into a three-course meal without first getting your ducks in a row. Prep all your ingredients before you start cooking: Chop the onions, peel the cucumbers, and measure out the olive oil. Place each prepped ingredient in a separate bowl and pull anything else you’ll need from the cupboard or fridge. Chefs call this mise en place, which literally means putting everything in place. It’s one of the easiest ways to speed up your cooking time, and with all the ingredients at arm’s reach, you’ll have more control over the whole cooking process.
3. Not Having the Right Equipment
If you want to go from zero to 60 in fewer than five seconds, you’re going to need the right car. The same goes for cooking equipment. You don’t need a battery of pots and pans and every gadget known to man. Invest in a few versatile, high-quality pieces; if properly handled, they’ll last you a lifetime. Absolutely critical is a sharp chef’s knife—it’s the workhorse of any kitchen. Other essentials? Two large chopping boards—one for meat and the other for produce—and a mandolin, which makes slicing a breeze.