Every little tip helps
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
As a student who has to pay his own way through post-secondary, I have found working in a kitchen to be one of the most useful jobs an undergrad can get. In Vancouver, it’s common to get very flexible hours, decent pay, and the chance to pick up some new tricks to use at home. These are a few ways to amp up your own food prep, with minimal effort.
One of the best and simplest foods you can make at home. Simply slice however many onions you have into strips, place them on a hot frying pan with a splash of canola oil, and let them fry. Shake them around with a spatula every once in a while. After an hour or so, depending on the amount of onions, you will have a heap of deliciously sweet and jammy caramelized onions. These things are absolutely amazing. They will work on everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to scrambled eggs and omelets. They keep for about two full weeks and can be made in any portion sizes. It’s entirely based on your appetite and the number of onions you use.
An unbeatable spread for basically anything. Mince some garlic (or buy minced garlic, it’s indistinguishable), melt down however much butter you feel like sacrificing for experimentation, and mix the garlic in. About a spoonful for half a stick of butter should be plenty. If you are feeling extra fancy, add finely chopped parsley for appearance—but, because chopping parsley is such a bore, this part is extremely optional. Additional bonus tip, fry burger buns with this butter before assembling the hamburger. It’s not the best option for the waistline, but it’s delicious. A little garlic always goes a long way.
Butterflied chicken breasts
This is likely the most well-known tip here, yet it’s so often ignored, despite being such an important basic step in cooking chicken. Simply slice open a chicken breast with a sharp kitchen knife lengthways, stopping about halfway through, and pull apart so it resembles a grotesque butterfly. This gives two benefits—one, it drastically reduces cooking time, which is critical for a food that cannot be eaten undercooked. Two, it gives you more chicken surface area to flavour. As the inside of chicken is generally pretty bland and flavourless, having more open space to spice up and season is always good. This should be taught as a cooking staple, but it somehow gets neglected so often at home.
None of these tricks are bold, innovative, exotic, or strange. They are just simple, quality things to improve cooking and eating just a little bit. Anything to keep students saving money by cooking themselves is a good thing—every little tip helps.