I'm trying to think about all the good things that came out of the pandemic.

Next to learning how fly I look in a facemask, the other ray of sunshine in a years-worth of clouds has been teaching myself to cook.

I should say cook better.

I worked in the kitchen at Finley Hospital for a number of years and I feel like I picked up a few skills there.

I can do salads, sides and feel pretty comfortable with an oven. I like to grill, but if my chicken or steaks are too think I find myself feeling anxiety over preparing the meal. It's pretty easy to under or over cook meat.

I spent a good portion of the last year practicing and I feel like I've elevated my steak game over the course of the pandemic.

Let me just acknowledge chicken again. If I'm not cooking it in the oven, I usually butterfly the breast. This will reduce the cooking time and get your chicken more evenly cooked.

As for my steaks, I like to make sure to pull them out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before cooking them. Again, bringing your meat up to room temp allows for a more even cook.

I salt and pepper my steaks generously and I always make sure my grill is nice and hot before putting them on. (Once they're on the grill I reduce the heat and shut the lid, which I find prevents flare ups and crispy steaks!)

I also use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temp. Rare steaks are 125 degrees, medium rare is 130 degrees, medium is 140 degrees, medium well is 150 degrees and well done is 160 degrees.

Lately I've been experimenting with thicker steaks and cooking them in my air-fryer, first. I have a baking plate so I do them at 350 degrees for about 12 to 13 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. Then I throw them on the grill for 2 minutes each side to give them that 'fresh off the grill' texture. Trust me, it's yummy!

How about you? Have you perfected your kitchen skills over the pandemic? What's your best dish?

Let me know... maybe we can trade recipes!

~Chris Farber

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