Most dinner dates and parties go a little something like this: The host prepares and cooks everything so it’s ready just in time for the guests to arrive. But you don’t have to follow that tried-and-true method during your next hosting gig. Instead, you can show off your cooking and serving skills to your guests, who will undoubtedly gather to watch you work.
So, pop open a bottle of wine, pour everyone a glass and let the show begin.
Here are six extremely impressive cooking skills everyone will love to watch:
1. Carving a Turkey
You could grab a knife and slice into your perfectly roasted turkey, but cutting with reckless abandon will leave you with a less-than-presentable plate of meat. So, follow a strategy the next time you’re in charge of carving, so you have a picturesque platter full of Thanksgiving’s top protein pick.
Start by removing the string that holds the turkey legs together. Then, grab your sharpest knife and cut through to remove the legs and thighs. Another slice will separate the drumsticks before you find the wishbone at the front of the bird and remove it with your hands. With that gone, you can easily slice the tender breast meat before removing the wings. Once you’ve taken all the meat off of the bird, it’s time to thinly cut the breast and thigh meat for serving.
2. Cooking the Perfect Steak
One second could make the difference between a perfectly prepared steak and one that’s slightly overdone. So, before your next dinner party, brush up on your steak-making skills so you can beat the clock in the tastiest way possible.
Infographic by Barbecoa St Paul’s
Start by picking up the right cut of steak: for a special occasion, it’s worth spending extra on a high-quality cut of meat. Be sure to ask your butcher for a feather-blade steak, which has excellent flavor at a reasonable price. Leave the meat out for about 30 minutes before cooking so it reaches room temperature, and massage both sides of each cut with olive oil to tenderize it. Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides.
As you cook the steak over high heat in a heavy pan, turn it every minute for about three minutes to get the perfect medium-rare meat. With each turn, rub the steak with garlic and butter to infuse it with just enough flavor. When you’ve finished cooking, let the steaks rest for two minutes before serving so they’re still hot but extra juicy.
3. De-Shelling a Lobster
Movies have made comedic moments out of characters attempting to crack open a lobster — and inadvertently sending its shell flying. You don’t want this kind of mishap at your next dinner party, so learn the proper steps of de-shelling this luxury seafood beforehand.
Infographic by Maine Lobster Now
When the lobster’s cool enough to touch, remove its claws first by holding the body and pulling each one down toward the tail. Once you’ve removed the claws, you can use a pick to pull the meat out of each one. Then, you’ll move onto the tail: You can use a small fork to push this meat onto your plate. You’ll also find meat in the legs and body. Discard other areas, such the digestive tract and gills.
4. Removing an Avocado Seed
As more and more people discover the unending magic of the avocado, there are more and more injuries caused by improper cutting of the fruit. In our defense, it’s a pretty tricky thing to do: not only is the avocado round, but it has a solid pit at its center. Fortunately, there is a safe way to slice into one, and it only takes three steps.
Start with a lengthwise cut through the fruit, pressing down until your knife reaches the pit. Next, hold your knife while moving the avocado around on the blade so that it’s perforated all the way around. With this circumferential cut made, you can twist your avocado open. Then, set the avocado down on the counter and take your knife and carefully but forcefully jab it into the pit. Carefully pick up the avocado, with the knife still attached, and twist the handle of your blade before lifting it to remove the pit completely. Then, drag the edge of your knife along the sink to pop it off so you can throw it away and keep cooking.
You may have learned in the past to hold the avocado side with the pit in your hand and wack with the knife, but the danger of avocado hand is real. Keep your other hand entirely out of the way or your meal will be memorable for all the wrong reasons!
5. Cutting a Mango
A tropically themed dinner party could call for a bit of mango — the only problem is that this fruit is also notoriously tough to cut. There are multiple methods for doing it, and all of them start with you selecting a mango that’s ripe for slicing: It should feel slightly soft when you squeeze it.
There’s a pit in the center of your mango, but you won’t cut it like the avocado. Instead, hold the fruit and cut its cheeks, which are the fleshiest bits on the sides of the fruit. Then, pick up the piece you haven’t sliced yet and cut “fingers” from the sides until you hit the center pit. To finish, you’ll pick up the cheeks and cut slices into the flesh of the fruit. Grab a spoon and use it to scoop perfect half-moons from each cheek.
6. Chopping an Onion
Chopping onions can be a teary-eyed, tedious affair — the steps below should help you with the latter part. A few changes to your normal onion-cutting routine will have you dicing the entire veggie in at a speed that’s sure to delight your party guests.
Once you’ve removed the stem and bottom of your onion, place it onto one of its now-flat sides and slice it in half. Take off each half’s hard-to-cut outer layer, lay one of them flat and begin cutting into the vegetable horizontally, through to the stem, but not severing it completely. Then, cut vertically from the top of the onion down to its bottom, again taking care to keep the stem area intact.
Keeping the stem is important because it will hold everything together as you cut horizontally through the onion, creating perfectly diced cuts in just six steps. It may seem hard to master this technique at first, but it’s worth keeping up with it: Your onion-dicing duties will become much quicker, meaning fewer tears in the future.
Knock Their Socks Off
The preparation methods are one thing — the flavor of your food is quite another. With these six tricks, you can master the former without sacrificing any part of the latter. In other words, your dinner guests will be impressed from start to finish, which will leave you just as satisfied with your meal as they are.