Something I've noticed about the way we eat when we're at home, is that we prefer things that take less time. It might be because there is very little time to do the cooking, or because you don't like spending that much time cooking, or maybe because you just don't like to cook. Time is one of the things we have to work around in the restaurant industry, and as such, we are privy to a lot of great methods of making things quick to cook. Today, I'll be sharing a few of the easier and more home friendly tricks that we use to make it quicker when the time comes to cook.
Do Prep In Advance - This cuts the most time out of cooking. You can cook every night for a week and never spend more than 15 minutes cooking if you spend a few hours doing simple prep, once a week. And I'm talking really simple. Cook 4 pounds of pasta to al dente, cut 4 chicken breasts on the bias (1/4" thick), cut a flank steak the same way, chop a bunch of asparagus, mince a cup of garlic (food processor, pulse it!), mince a cup of shallots, and you've got the base ready for dinner every night. Admittedly, it will all have pasta in it, but the time you save is amazing.
Plan For It - This is VERY related to the trick above. In restaurants, everything goes quickly because regardless of what you're ordering, we're already prepared to make it. If you sit down for half an hour before going out to shop, you can make up a menu for the week ahead, and a shopping list. Make your one trip to the store, and be ready for the week knowing that you have everything.
Utilize Everything - Total utilization sounds a lot better than cooking with leftovers, doesn't it? While we don't actually use leftovers in the restaurant industry, we do utilize everything. Trimmed a beef tenderloin for steak? Perfect, use the trimmings for soup. Not only do you get several sizable steaks from the big piece of meat, but with the addition of chicken stock, onion, celery, carrot, and some mushrooms, you've got soup as well. Don't throw it away!
Do "Prep" In Advance - Yes, this is different from the one above. While some things can only be done a week in advance (or a few days for fish/meat), other prep items can be done weeks, or even months in advance. Marinades for example. Going to marinate something at some point in the next 6 months? Might as well plan ahead. Mix up a half gallon of your marinade, and whenever you feel like it, ladle some out for that chicken breast, or that skirt steak, or even those shrimp. Stock can be done far in advance as well, and it is way way waaaaay cheaper to make it yourself than it is to buy it. (Alton Brown has a great recipe for chicken stock, it's on the 2nd post I think, as well as the food network website)
That's it for now! Bacon.