Shhh: Chef Secrets for a Four-Star Breakfast at Home

Crisp bacon, light pancakes, goofproof omelets: Find out what restaurant chefs know to get top results at home.

from The Cheating Chef's Secret Cookbook
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    Bacon

    To avoid splatter, and for even cooking, cook bacon in the microwave. Place one or two slices of bacon on a folded paper towel and lay it in the microwave. Cook on high for two to three minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and sizzling. For more than two slices of bacon, lay the paper towel on a plate and increase the cooking time as needed. Get fancy with the fun bacon 'n' egg bundles pictured here with this simple recipe.

    Pancakes

    The best and lightest pancakes are made from buttermilk and baking soda, which together create air bubbles that are trapped by the gluten in the flour. This simple chemical reaction happens and subsides quickly, so don’t wait around. Mix the pancake batter quickly (and minimally—overbeating makes them tough and flat) and cook them immediately. Discard any leftover batter.

    Omelet

    Want a perfect omelet? Getting the egg out of the pan is the challenge. Here are some helpful hints chefs already know:

    • Heat the pan hot! When you pour in the egg, it should sizzle and bubble. The pan should be hot enough to cook in just moments, without browning.
    • Use a heavyweight nonstick pan, and make sure it is spotlessly clean.
    • Use a heatproof rubber scraper. These flexible tools, once used merely to scrape batter out of pans, have become major cooking tools with the advent of heatproof silicone blades.

    Frittata

    For an extra crispy, perfectly browned frittata top, drizzle with a light splash of extra-virgin olive oil before popping into the oven.

    Scrambled Eggs

    The secret to scrambled eggs is in the cream cheese. When cream cheese melts, it doesn’t melt into a liquid; it melts down to the consistency of sour cream, which adds a velvety smoothness to this delicious dish.

    French Toast

    Ever wonder how restaurants get their French toast so brown and sweet without overcooking the middle? Here’s the trick: When you melt the butter, add a pinch of brown sugar, a pinch of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the pan at the same time. When the butter begins to foam, put the bread in the pan, but do not move it around until it’s time to flip!

    Oatmeal

    The key to perfect oatmeal every time is to not add milk until the end; otherwise, it will curdle and throw off the texture of the cereal (not to mention its flavor).

    Hash Browns

    Boil the potatoes in advance and—this is the key—refrigerate them overnight before grating them, resulting in picture-perfect hash browns that are golden-edged and crisp. That’s because cooking and chilling will crystallize the potato starch, allowing them to cook up dry and crisp, not gooey.

    Muffins

    If your muffins emerge from the oven flat instead of puffed into a dome, you’re probably overbeating the batter. Resist the impulse to beat it smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet all at once and turn the batter over from the bottom with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, not a whisk. Several brisk stirs should do the trick. When you can still see a few streaks of unincorporated flour, that’s the time to spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans.

    Granola

    Most granolas involve masses of raisins, which can get old and stodgy after a while. The secret to the delicious tang that gives granola such bright flavor are crisp and tart dried cranberries and dried cherries.

    Cornbread

    The real secret to the best cornbread isn’t in the batter; it’s in the process. The hotter the cast-iron pan is before you pour in the batter, the crispier the crust will be. (Just be careful removing it from the oven!)

    Muffins and Scones

    Are your breakfast baked goods a little tough? Here’s a secret weapon that just might help: sugar. Stir a few tablespoons of sugar in when combining the dry ingredients. Sugar helps weaken the gluten in the flour so it can’t form such tough bonds. When it comes to baking, sugar is a natural tenderizer.

    Breakfast Stratas

    Everyone loves the crunchy bits on baked dishes like stratas and even lasagnas. The ingredient that’s bound to make crunch-lovers happy is cornflakes! Sprinkle them on just before baking.

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