9 FOODS YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO COOK BY 30

  1. 1.
    Whole Roast Chicken
    There's just no excuse. Trussing and roasting a chicken is about as easy as it gets. My mom taught me how to do this at age 17, you can do it at 25. Salt and pepper the outside and inside of the chicken, fresh herbs are optional. Truss it. Toss it in the oven at 400 degrees. It amazes me that friends come over and call me fancy for making a whole chicken. Ditch the boneless skinless blobs of chicken breast and opt for the whole chicken. It tastes better and your house will smell great.
  2. 2.
    Simple Vinaigrette
    3 parts oil, 1-2 parts vinegar (based upon your taste). This is your most basic salad dressing. There is no reason you cannot make this. Add in your favorite citrus or herbs for variations, maybe some Dijon mustard. It's sinfully easy, yet I still see you buying it at the grocery store for $5 per bottle.
  3. 3.
    Stock/Broth
    Have you made your whole chicken yet? DO NOT THROW THE BONES AWAY! Stock is so easy to make with the leftover bones and excess meat bits too small to eat. Let them cool, freeze them in a plastic bag. When you're ready, take them out. Roast them in your oven and toss them into simmering water with some salt (veggies optional). When it tastes good, strain the solid parts from the liquid and you have a starter for soup. I do this in a crock pot and let it sit all day. Do that or on your stove top.
  4. 4.
    Fish
    Not every meal can be chicken, beef, or pork. And it shouldn't be! Fish is delicious when done well, disgusting when done poorly. Rule 1: get fresh fish. It shouldn't smell fishy. Rule 2: don't cook it too quickly, that's when you get the white stuff (albumin). My favorite is salmon. Keep the skin on. Pop it in the oven with salt and pepper. Finish with lemon juice. This is so easy and delicious. If your fish is fresh, don't overdo the cooking. You want it juicy, not dry.
  5. 5.
    Eggs
    Scrambled eggs, fried egg, poached egg. Scrambled should be beaten (not too hard!) before going into a medium-low heated pan to ensure they don't dry out. Fried eggs should be cooked with butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Poached eggs should be in nearly boiling water, but not quite. Properly cooked eggs are great on their own or over other food.
  6. 6.
    Bacon
    Stop burning your damn bacon! I know, I know "you like it crispy." Crispy is not burned. Bacon is meant to be cooked slower than you cook it. If you cut your heat in half you'll be left with beautifully cooked bacon that is both crispy and chewy. THAT is a deadly combo. Your bacon will be better for it.
  7. 7.
    Roasted Vegetables
    Roasted vegetables are probably the easiest side dish to make. Invest in a good baking sheet and the oven does the rest. Make sure you chop the vegetables to the same size so everything cooks consistently. Brussel sprouts, carrots, kale chips, even a hash with sweet potatoes. Easy peasy.
  8. 8.
    Guacamole
    Everyone's favorite party snack. Avocados, red onion, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and kosher salt (jalapeño optional). Mix it together and put it in the fridge. Perfect.
  9. 9.
    Pork Shoulder
    In the crock pot: salt and pepper, a rub if you really want it, onions, apples, water and a bit of apple cider vinegar. Cook it on low and in 5 hours or so you have fall apart goodness for tacos or sandwiches. In the smoker: just salt and pepper. As always, keep the bones. A good stock for pho can be made with the shoulder bone and chicken carcasses.