There are basic recipes, and then there are recipes that call for a few key ingredients that you probably should have but don't. Food Republic regularly features 7/20 recipes, which require 10 items that should always be in your arsenal.
Now let's step it up a notch and get some accent ingredients that will make you The Man in the kitchen.
Here's 8 ingredients every man should have:
1. Fresh Citrus
Whether it's fresh lemon for the perfect vinaigrette or fresh lime for the perfect cocktail, your kitchen should never be without a good inventory of citrus fruits. Concentrates need not apply.
2. Chicken Stock
With the ability to add delicious slow-cooked flavor to whatever it touches, chicken stock will transform even your simplest meals to masterpieces. For the true overachiever, ditch store-bought and make it from scratch -- you'll make good use of leftover chicken and vegetables, and you'll definitely taste the difference. (Vegetarians should sub in vegetable stock.)
3. Simple Syrup
For the wannabe mixologist, simple syrup is a simple must. Have you ever tried making the perfect mint julep with regular table sugar? We don't think so.
Receiving praise in cultures around the world, anchovies tend to get lumped among the least used ingredients in the American home kitchen. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in salty-fishy flavor. A component known as umami, which can easily be created by using fish sauce in your cooking, is the almost mythical fifth taste of glutamates and nucleotides -- will add dimension and depth to your salad dressings and pasta sauces.
5. Whole Peppercorns
Never -- we repeat -- never will you go back to using pre-ground pepper again. The best part: an endless variety of colors (with a variety of intensities) of peppercorns can be purchased whole and dumped into your favorite pepper mill. Once you have these in your arsenal you can use them to flavor just about any food and make yourself a wonderful steak au poivre.
Italians call it pancetta, Americans call it bacon. We call it delicious. Seriously, though, try breaking bacon out of the breakfast doldrums. Use it crumbled on a salad, or chopped up in a frittata, mixed up in a pasta dish, as a flavoring for seafood, or however you wanna experiment. Of course, don't forget the mighty B.L.T.
7. Fleur de sel
"Flower of the sea" may sound like a delicate name for this far-from-wimpy pantry staple. Unlike boring table salt, fleur de sel won't dissolve when it comes in contact with liquids such as oil or water. What does this mean? It stays crunchy, and crunchy is good.
The philosophy behind cooking with wine is easy -- if it's good enough to drink then it's good enough to cook with. Use it as an excuse to open up a great red (or white) the next time you have a dinner guest and get cooking.