I have been a culinary instructor in British Columbia for over 16 years and I love sharing tips and tricks to help people improve the results of their cooking.
One suggestion I have been preaching for years is to cook topless. I am not suggesting you cook half-naked, but to do so without a lid on your pot or pan.
Now every recipe is unique, but for the most part, when you are simmering a soup, stew, or sauce, chances are you will have better results if you do it without a lid. The reasoning for this is really quite simple and logical, and my goal is to get you to rethink your cooking habits.
When you simmer anything without a lid, what do you see rising from the pot or pan? The answer is quite obvious: steam.
What is Steam? This answer to this is even more obvious: evaporated water.
This leads me to ask you three more straightforward, but very important questions: does water have any colour; does water have any flavour; is water a liquid?
There is water content everywhere in many ingredients. There is water in vegetables, meat, broth, juice. So, even if you haven’t added any water specifically as an ingredient, you can still take water out of your recipe by cooking it out of your ingredients. But why is this such a benefit?
Water is a colourless and flavourless liquid and three magical things will happen when you cook without a lid: you will have darker colour to your recipe; you will have increased flavour in your recipe; your recipe will be thicker.
Taking the some of the water component out of your dish through steam will always achieve these results. Now, sometimes you may be happy with the amount of colour, flavour, and thickness in a recipe before simmering, and if that’s the case, then cook with the lid on.
This whole discussion brings me to one more tip I want to share with you: if water is listed as an ingredient in a recipe, I want you to always question it.
Do you have other liquids that would complement the recipe and have more colour and flavour than water? Perhaps some wine, juice, beer, or broth?
Until next time, happy cooking.
Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host. Visit him at