Getting great flavour from your food doesn’t have to mean hard labour in the kitchen. These are my tried, tested and lazy girl approved flavour hacks.
Everything tastes better when its seasoned properly. Using salt doesn’t mean your food just tastes salty, it actually brings out the flavours in your food. Plain boiled potatoes taste great when they’re seasoned well. Salad needs seasoning to really pop. Even desserts love seasoning—salted caramel anyone?
I always have sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to hand whenever I’m cooking.
Fat = flavour
There’s a reason rib eye steak tastes better than fillet steak, and that reason is fat. The more fat there is in your meat, the more flavour it will have.
The same goes for vegetables. Salads are dressed with oil to add flavour. Butter and cream are added to sauces to improve flavour and texture.
Embrace fat and enjoy the spoils.
Don’t be afraid of heat
The Maillard reaction, which creates that gorgeous, brown, caramelised crust on whatever it is you’re cooking, requires heat to make it happen, so don’t be scared of getting your pan screaming hot when you’re cooking things like steak, scallops, mushrooms and skin on fish.
Don’t overcrowd your pan either, otherwise you’ll reduce the temperature too much and could end up braising your food instead of frying it.
Deglaze your pans
Once you’ve achieved the Maillard reaction, you’ll inevitably be left with crusty brown bits on the bottom of your pan. Don’t waste this flavour! Use alcohol or stock to deglaze your pan, scraping up all those tasty bits to make a pan sauce, or add to gravy.
Add soft herbs at the end of cooking
Soft herbs are delicate. Chopping can bruise them and cooking can turn them bitter. Gently tear soft herbs and add right at the end of cooking.
Only cook with wine you’d drink
The whole point of adding wine to your food is for the flavour. If it’s not good enough to drink a glass of it, don’t cook with it.
A great way to save the dregs of an unfinished bottle is to freeze it in an ice cube tray and pop a couple of cubes out when you need wine, to save opening a fresh bottle.
Cool it down
The heat in chillies comes from capsaicin, which is fat soluble. If you’ve added too much chilli and you’re suffering, cool it down with milk, sour cream or yoghurt, instead of drinking water.
Oven bake your bacon
Cooking bacon in the oven on a sheet pan lined with greaseproof paper gives you even crispness all over.
Steam, then roast your potatoes
Whether you’re making roasties, wedges or chips, cooking your potatoes in a steamer, instead of boiling, before roasting at a really high temperature gives you super crispy potatoes every time.
Use dried mushrooms for instant umami
Dried mushrooms give an amazing umami flavour to dishes, just soak them in boiling water to rehydrate them before using.
The soaking water doubles up as a great mushroom stock for risotto, just make sure you don’t use the bit at the very bottom, as it might have some grit in it.
Condiments, condiments, condiments
Condiments are your friend, they can totally transform a meal with just a splash, drizzle or squirt.
Pimp up mashed potato by adding wholegrain mustard, or a few drops of truffle oil. Add tang to spaghetti Bolognese or shepherds pie with a good splash of Worcestershire sauce. Give chilli a smoky kick with chipotle sauce. Get amazing savouriness in Asian dishes with miso and oyster sauces. Drizzle hot sauce over stir fries, tacos, eggs… everything!
What are your tried and tested flavour hacks?