If you’re looking for quick, easy kitchen hacks, look no farther than Alton Brown. This Food Network celebrity chef is widely renowned for his extensive food knowledge and quirky manner of delivering it. Brown’s also famous for clever cooking hacks that can make your life in the kitchen easier.
Let’s take a look at a few of his best, starting with a non-smoky bacon baking hack.
Alton Brown shows us how to cook bacon in the oven without setting off the smoke detectors
Brown suggests using paper towels to soak up all of that grease. Line a baking sheet with a couple of layers of paper towels, set a flat baking or cooling rack on top, and lay out your bacon on the rack.
Roast your bacon at 400° until it’s as evenly crisp as you like it. As an added bonus, there’s less chance of a nasty burn from grease slopping over the edge of the pan while you’re removing it from the oven. Although you’ll still want to be careful.
Alton Brown suggests making several meals from a single dish
Cook less and eat more by planning ahead. Brown says a whole roasted chicken makes a nice dinner one night and a pot of soup another. Not to mention a whole stack of lunch sandwiches and delicious salads in between.
Create what some call “planned overs” by devoting two or three nights a week to cooking meats, starches, and vegetables that can be used in future dishes.
This hack is especially helpful for small households where cooking from scratch every night for just one or two people can be overwhelming. Small batches of soups, stews, casseroles, and main-dish salads are all quick, easy dishes that will make good use of your prior planning and make-ahead cooking.
Use freshly ground whole spices for better flavor
According to Brown (and many other celebrity chefs), whole spices like allspice, black cardamom, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorns, and sumac berries add a real punch of aroma and flavor when they’re freshly ground. So toss those old ground spices and replace them with the whole versions. Keeping a quality spice mill in your spice cupboard makes grinding your own super quick and easy.
You may never have heard of sumac, but it’s one of those secret ingredients that chefs love. Unlike its poisonous white relative, red sumac berries are a safe and delicious addition to many dishes. The Spruce Eats explains that it’s especially popular in the Middle East, where it’s a main component in the popular za’atar spice blend.
Sumac adds bright red color and a lemony tartness to any dish. Brown recommends using it to, “Add depth to anything starchy: beans, potatoes, rice, etc.” Umm… Delicious red (or probably pink) mashed potatoes? We’ll have to take your word on that, Chef Brown!
Brown’s beloved guacamole recipe
This highly-rated guacamole recipe has over 1,000 five-star reviews and has converted avocado haters into guacamole lovers. Only nine additional ingredients turn Hass avocados into a delicious guac with the perfect texture. That perfect texture is achieved through the use of a potato masher since Brown says neither chunks nor a puree offers the perfect mouthfeel
Other than the properly smashed avocados, the guac ingredients include diced Roma tomatoes, diced onion, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and freshly ground cumin.
Brown may be a celebrity on TV but these simple cooking hacks can make you feel like a celebrity chef in your own kitchen.