In this most dismal of springs, we have to look for silver linings where we can. Hopefully, you've mastered social distancing by now. Hand-washing too, perhaps? Oh, and also video-conferencing and digital dinner parties -- which I, truthfully, can't wait to not do for a very long time. While you're still stuck in the house for the foreseeable future, why not master something even more useful like cooking? MasterClass is here to help with a library of culinary classes in a range of practices taught by the absolute best in the world. No, really. The best.
Whether you're looking to perfect the art of healthy seasonal ingredients with the iconic Alice Waters, the fundamentals of French pastry a la Dominique Ansel (the cronut guy), or hone general cooking techniques from the always entertaining Gordon Ramsay, there are 13 culinary MasterClasses available to help sharpen your skills.
What's great about MasterClass is how technical, granular and utilitarian all the lessons are. Arron Franklin's Texas BBQ MasterClass, for instance, spares no detail in walking his digital students through a perfect BBQ brisket, from selecting the right cut, trimming the fat, brining and seasoning and then smoking it just like he does in his own iconic eateries. The classes are also (smartly) broken up into chapters so you can easily and instantly revisit the recipe or chapter you need later on. In short: If you aren't a significantly better cook after watching a few of these culinary lessons on MasterClass, you probably weren't meant to cook in the first place. Hey, there's always needlepoint.
An all-access membership to the full MasterClass library -- not just cooking -- is currently $15 a month for a limited time. Noncooking MasterClasses include lessons from Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anna Wintour, Annie Leibowitz and many more. Here are our picks for the best cooking classes to try on MasterClass.
Waters is a true pioneer in the now ubiquitous farm-to-table culinary style. In her MasterClass, she'll bring you along to the farmer's market to explain how to navigate and speak the language to nab the absolute best produce, meats and other goods. The San Francisco-based chef may stress the importance of selecting quality ingredients above anything, but she'll also explain ways to prepare your haul and stock your pantry. Waters even shows off her absolutely essential kitchen tools.
Chef Gabriela was generous enough to share some salsa tips with our sister site Chowhound, but for the whole deal on Mexican fare from a modern great, watch her MasterClass. Here, you'll learn the aforementioned salsa skills but also how to make tortillas from scratch, tacos al pastor and more of her greatest hits.
If your goals for this time in the 'tine include improving your technical cooking skills and keeping yourself entertained, Gordon Ramsay's MasterClass is likely to achieve both. As a bonus, he probably won't yell at you (but not definitely). The British chef of TV's Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen fame brings his big energy and accent into your kitchen with a robust and utilitarian tutorial including knife skills, kitchen layout and other techniques like how to break down a whole chicken.
The ability to shake up a proper martini will get you further than most degrees these days. Since a stiff drink is on everyone's menu right now -- and since we've all got a wee bit of extra time on our hands -- why not learn to make a good one? These two pros walk students through the basics of mixology and then bring it home with crowd-pleasing recipes like mojitos, sours and a whiskey old fashioned.
Aaron Franklin is one of the best-known names in BBQ. He runs Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas and now he's ready to teach you the same techniques his team uses for pork butt, BBQ ribs and brisket from start to finish. With BBQ, the devil is in the detail and this tutorial will put you on your path to pit master glory. You will need some special equipment to execute some of the recipes, so have a read before firing up the smoker.
This article was originally published on Chowhound.