It doesn't matter how closely you follow a recipe, for some of us the end result still tastes like a braised foot. Which is delicious in its own right and one of the better menu items at Friday's, but what do you do when you want food that tastes like a meal and you can't eat out? You ask Mario Batali. The following are four things he suggests for achieving restaurant flavor at home.
1. Take What the Produce Gives You
It’s nice to walk into a grocery store with a list of ingredients clipped from the Times or torn out of Food and Wine, but tasty, restaurant-quality food is predicated on having the freshest, and therefore most flavorful, ingredients. Start with what’s best in the grocery aisle and build your meal from there.
2. Cut First, Cook Later
Employ what the French call mise en place (putting in place). That is, prep and lay out your ingredients before you apply heat and combine them. Restaurants run smoothly throughout service only because the ingredients are prepared during the daytime. Dinner parties operate on the same principle. Plus, it's much easier to have a glass of wine while you cook if everything's prepped ahead of time.
3. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
A zen-like pasta is accomplished only with the inclusion of the cooking liquid, i.e., the pasta water. Add the liquid to any sauce and the starchy goodness brings life to basic pastas. By helping to emulsify the condiment, the noodle and the sauce come together as one.
One of the most common errors that a home cook makes relates to his inability to let things just sit there. Heat transfer is very simple. It doesn’t require a lot of shaking or stirring. Let the sauté pan be.