Few pleasures are as enjoyable as a delicious meal at a restaurant. However, in recent years, pandemic-related safety measures and widespread inflation have led many people to cook at home with greater frequency.
Cooking meals at home enables individuals to customize ingredients according to their dietary preferences. But some home cooks wonder if they can replicate the type of fine dining they enjoy at their favorite restaurants in a home kitchen without having the skills of a professional. The answer is “yes,” especially for people willing to follow some simple suggestions.
Start with a favorite restaurant meal
Mastering one favorite dish from a restaurant can be the starting point for developing a passion for replicating even more recipes. Figure out where you love to eat and then zero in on that one dish that has you salivating even before you’ve sat down at the table. Pay attention to the types of ingredients that went into the meal so you can search for a recipe that comes close.
Upgrade your equipment
If you plan to be cooking more fine meals at home, it may be worth it to invest in some new cooking gear. Trying to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver doesn’t work well in construction, and a stir-fry may not come out the same without a wok. Learn about the basic equipment to have in a kitchen, or seek the advice of a retailer like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Le Creuset or Williams Sonoma.
Use quality ingredients
Be sure to use quality ingredients when preparing meals. For some, this means spending extra on organic foods or choosing a better grade of meat, such as choice beef over select. Using fresh produce and herbs also may produce more flavor than packaged or dried varieties.
Mise en place is key
“Mise en place” is a French phrase meaning “putting in place” or “gathering.” This refers to sorting, chopping and measuring out all ingredients for a recipe in advance. By organizing what is needed, you can use ingredients in a timely manner and everything will be accessible. This can limit distractions during cooking and reduce risk of overcooking. Mise en place also ensures all ingredients are used.
Complicated is not necessarily better
A recipe doesn’t have to be complicated to qualify as fine dining. Some of the most delicious meals are those that use minimal ingredients but are cooked to perfection. Mastering a meal like a simple pasta dish could give you the confidence to try something more complex the next time.
Friends, family members and even culinary professionals may be willing to share their tips for success. The worst thing that can happen by asking for advice is the person says, “no.” The best that can happen is learning techniques that enable you to whip up more restaurant-worthy meals.