Because we don’t all live in television studio kitchens where ingredients magically appear prepped and in the right quantities, you need to have some essentials on hand. Below are, in our humble but obviously correct opinions, some basics to keep stocked to ensure that you can shine every time.
Salt, Pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This holy trinity of cooking is a must have if you ever even think about stepping into the kitchen. The Brothers Brown recommend coarse kosher salt for its cleaner flavor and the way it makes meat happy, and whole black peppercorns for its longer shelf life and more robust flavor. Extra virgin olive oil (we will smite you with a meat tenderizer if you call it EVOO) is a must for frying, dressing, mixing and just about anything else that calls for oil.
Balsamic Vinegar – The yin to oil’s yang, balsamic vinegar adds an astringent note to dishes and is key in salads and marinades.
Unsalted Butter – Butter is what makes restaurant food taste good, so get over your health hang-ups. Stay away from salted butter; it can bring your flavors out of balance. You should be salting your food to taste anyway so there’s no need to go overboard.
Garlic– Thomas thinks that if you’re not using fresh garlic when you cook it means you don’t care about who you’re feeding; there, he said it. We believe strongly in the use of whole garlic; it keeps longer, tastes tastier and it’s more badass to chop something than spooning pieces out of a jar or shaking powder into a dish.
Onions – They last a solid three weeks in the pantry and add flavor and depth to every dish. Just think of how good caramelized onions are on burgers. We’ll wait while you wipe the drool off your mouth.
Sugar – Good for making things sweet. If we have to explain any further, you may want to take up a different hobby.
Eggs – Is there anything the egg can’t do? Use them in omelets, fry them, scramble them, use them in an egg wash, feed overnight guests (wink, wink). Nature’s little protein bombs are good any time of day and last forever (and by forever, we mean a month, give or take).
Lemons –Having this acidic wonder around is great for brightening up dishes and providing a fresh taste to raw or sautéed veggies. Lemon juice is also acceptable because it just lasts so much longer.
Italian Seasoning– Ok, so even we take shortcuts sometimes and this is one of them. Typically including basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and savory, this little jar of dried hodgepodge goes into almost anything we make that we call Italian.
Extra Credit (These are nice to have, but you can get by without ’em)
Coffee and Tea – Because A) caffeine is awesome and B) having both of these on hand automatically makes you a good host.
Frank’s Red Hot – The perfect blend of flavor and heat, this hot sauce is a Brother’s Brown favorite for use on just about anything.
A Bottle of Red, a Bottle of White and a Bottle of Bubbly – No, this isn’t a weak Billy Joel reference. It’s a good idea to have red wine and white wine around for both cooking (marinades and sauces) and pairing (drinking and enjoying). As for the sparkling wine, you never know when you may have something to celebrate. Why be caught unprepared?