6 Basic Kitchen Skills We Wish Knew Years Ago

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Sometimes the thing stopping us from making a homemade meal isn’t the cooking time, or the grocery shopping we’d have to do after work. It’s the prep. Chopping and dicing can turn a 20-minute recipe into a 60-minute ordeal. Knife skills are one of the first things you learn in cooking school (remember this scene from Julie & Julia ?), and with good reason: Having good knife skills are a real game changer in the kitchen, because it makes a super efficient, slicing, dicing, and chopping machine. And, it's much easier than you think. Once you’ve got these basic techniques down, you’ll be able to mince and matchstick with confidence. Plus, you’ll only need 1 or 2 knives (a chef's knife and a paring knife) in your kitchen arsenal to do it!

Level III: The Best Way To Mince Garlic Without A Garlic Press

Photography by Danny Kim; Food Styling by Lauren Gerrie.
We can all squeeze garlic through a garlic press, but there's something strangely satisfying about smashing the individual cloves, and chopping them up into teeny-tiny pieces with a paring knife. Plus, it's great practice for developing those knife skills. It might seem daunting when you watch celebrity chefs do it on TV, but mincing a clove of garlic is actually really simple. Check out our tutorial below.

1. Pick off a garlic clove, set it on the table, place your paring knife straight over the top, and bang down hard to crunch the clove.

2. Peel off all the skin and then set your "naked" clove on the chopping board in front of you.

3. With your non-chopping hand in a bear claw shape (to avoid cutting your fingers!) start slicing the garlic straight down and perpendicular to the table.

4. Once you've sliced the entire clove in one direction, bunch the pieces together, and dice them in the opposite direction.

5. Bunch again, and slice them in the original direction again. Repeat until you have your minced garlic the size that you want it.

Here's a secret chef's tip: If the garlic gets a little sticky and annoying to handle, just sprinkle in a little bit of table salt, and that should fix right up!

Now, let's talk about how to perfectly chop up potatoes, so they cook evenly and perfectly!