12 ingredients You Should Always Have

eggs, olive oil and butter Looking to stock up your kitchen? @1800 Culinary Team Member Kellen Ferkey shares his list of must-have ingredients. At the top of the list? Butter and bacon, of course.

Butter:

Paula Deen said, “I just want to make sure that everybody gets a bite of butter.” Whether it is whole, clarified, Irish or unsalted, butter is the most useful ingredient in almost every aspect of cooking.  You can find substitutes on the shelf but nothing has the mouth feel of real old fashioned butter.

Bacon:

The fruit of the pig. Use it as a flavor enhancer, a pie tin lubricant or cologne.  Whichever form you choose for bacon is sure to have a draw of some sort.  Cats can hear a can opener a mile away, but man’s best friend knows when you even think about pulling out that cast iron and opening a pack of Nueske’s apple wood smoked goodness.

Eggs:

The most versatile ingredient we  have access to.  Eggs are a food that we all have preferences about. There are compendiums of knowledge on egg cookery.  Essentially they are little pockets of protein, but have infinite potential when broken down into white and yolk. Just to let you know: It is not a myth; farm fresh eggs DO taste better. They have a creamy richness to them that can be hard to describe and they also have firmer yolks.

Good Quality Olive Oil:

Skimping is not an option for olive oil. The best way to get the scent and flavor is to rub the oil on your hands and smell it.  Get to a store where you can tap a barrel and smear yourself with oils from all over the world.  You can pick out terroir in an instant, just like a fine wine.  You will notice the scents of grasses, the flavors of peppercorn and sage.  The more experience you have with the oil, the better.

Honey:

Honey doesn’t go bad. It has a higher sweetness index than table sugar, it contains antioxidants and also has antimicrobial powers that hinder infection.  Seriously, what’s not to love?  I will use honey whenever I’m given the chance.  I use it in soups, salad dressings and sauces.  The floral varieties of honey are amazing as well.  Go out and try to find wildflower or orange blossom honeys. They will blow your mind.

Potatoes:

Lets face it, our community runs on potatoes.  A moderately busy restaurant can go through 100 pounds of potatoes easily. Between French fries and chips alone, the starchy goodness has so many options it can be astounding.  I am particular to Yukon Gold potatoes; they store for a great length of time and have a very pleasing yellow hue.

Beer:

Some of my best breads and desserts have some form of ale in them.  I have a Guinness crème brulee recipe that I sometimes use as a measuring stick to judge other custards. From making simple focaccia breads to homemade pizza dough, the bubbly stuff does well to enhance the yeast aromas already present in breads.

Bourbon:

Make ice cream with it.  Make a glaze from Jack Daniels and put it on your grilled chicken.  If you run out of ideas you can always hit up the internet or just drink the remainder!

Bay Leaves:

Some would say that bay is the most common denominator in Cajun cuisine.  The leaves can be found in a myriad of cooking styles. I’ve even found them inside a chimichanga.  Bay has a subtle, wholesome, earthy flavor.  Bay leaves are known as the most ancient spice.  Throw some into your next stew or steak rub. Just remember to pluck them out of the stew before serving.

Sea Salt:

Sea salt has a coarser texture than table salt, yet contains the same amount of sodium by weight. Sea salt has a slightly different taste than table salt because of different minerals it contains. Many people prefer sea salt to table salt because they claim it has a more subtle flavor. Sea salt doesn’t contain iodine or any other additives. However, if you use sea salt you typically don’t have to worry about not getting enough iodine in your diet because iodine is available in many other foods, including dairy products, seafood and many processed foods.

Good Mustard:

High grade mustards can be a wake-up call.  If you try a true champagne Dijon mustard over a typical store shelf variety, you will be astonished at the flavor differences.  I’ve had some serious mustards in my past.  I tried a Löwensenf Extra Sharp straight from the motherland that made me blush, but the most versatile is definitely a Dijon.

Cheese:

Gouda, Muenster, Cheddar, Jack, Provolone, Fontina… The possibilities are endless.  To back that up, Paula Deen also said, “The more cheese to me, the better.” Grilled cheeses, fondues, soups and gratins.  I owe my waist to that beautiful stuff.

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