Killin’ it in the Kitchen
We asked the guys for their best cooking hacks

After a locked-down year spent refining our knife skills, setting up air fryers and trying out new recipes, it seems like a lot of people in South Jersey discovered their inner chefs. And likely, they discovered that a fancy culinary school education or professional restaurant experience isn’t necessary to make dishes that wow. Sometimes, the simplest advice can make all the difference. So we asked SJ men for their tried-and-true cooking hacks that keep them killin’ it in the kitchen.

When melting sugar on top of crème brûlée, I use a plumber’s torch I bought from Home Depot. It does the same thing as those small ones from a fancy kitchen store. And then if I ever have to solder any pipes, I already have the tool.
Ben Small, Merchantville

I love grilling kabobs, but before I put on any meat or vegetables, I spray the skewer with cooking spray. Everything just slides right off.
Tim Loungerson, Mullica Hill

When cooking duck breast, place it fat-side down in a cold frying pan. Then start cooking at low temp until the fat is rendered. Flip over and raise the heat.
Brandon Tepperton, Medford

If you brush mayonnaise on fish it won’t stick to the grill. I know it sounds gross, but you won’t taste it.
Al Zarenthi, Lumberton

Simmer bratwurst in onion soup before grilling. That increases flavor complexity and ensures even cooking.
Spencer Turer, Mt. Laurel

The more you use your cast iron, the more it’ll be seasoned and taste better each time you use it. It’s also convenient to throw it in the oven if you need to bake or broil something in your dish.
Michael Bruch, Audubon

When you grill, stop moving everything around so often. Put your meat on and let the grill cook it without constantly adjusting it. You should only have to flip it over once.
Adrien Coronado, Atlantic City

I use the convection function of the oven as an air fryer. It heats and crisps chicken nuggets and tater tots fast. Bill English, Bellmawr

Add lemon zest, sea salt and a few whole peppercorn to pasta or rice water to give it a lemon-pepper flavor profile. I also like to add herbs like rosemary, thyme or oregano to my butter in the pan before making a delicious grilled cheese to add an earthy flavor to the taste.
Celebrity Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr.

With low-pressure cookers, you can brown, steam, do almost everything better and faster. With low pressure, you don’t have to cool it to take the lid off. Game changer.
Bob Cooper, Mantua

Crockpots are a godsend. Just set it and forget it. Sometimes I’ll assemble it the night before, let it marinate in the fridge, and eat it the next day. I’ve done everything from brisket to soup and they always come out easy.
Dan Richman, Moorestown

I use a wet vac to clean my grill at the beginning of the season. Scrape the grates, then take them out and use the vac to suck up all the gunk laying around.
Timothy Yeng, Ocean City

Always offer to do the dishes. I know that’s not a cooking hack, but if you’re not a good cook it’s a great way to get someone else to make something actually edible without being lazy.
Ben Murphy, Moorestown

If you’re using parchment paper, crumple it before you lay it down. It won’t curl up on the ends.
Samir Patel, Hainesport

June 2021
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