In his new book Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain lays down a set of cooking skills that he believes all people should have. While I think everyone should have some cooking skills, it may be a bit extreme to expect every single person to possess all of these skills. So let's limit this discussion to what skills a home cook should have.
The skills that Bourdain suggests everyone should possess are:
1) Basic knife handling, sharpening and maintenance, ability to dice, mince, and slice
2) Ability to make an omelet
3) Ability to roast a chicken (and to do it well)
4) Ability to properly grill and rest a steak
5) Ability to cook vegetables to a desired doneness
6) Ability to make a standard vinaigrette
7) Ability to shop for fresh produce, know what's in season, and know when produce is ripe
8) Ability to recognize a fresh fish, and be able to clean and filet it
9) Ability to steam a lobster or crab
10) Ability to roast red meat to desired doneness without a thermometer
11) Ability to roast and mash potatoes
12) Ability to make rice, both steamed and pilaf method
13) Ability to braise
14) Knowing what to do with bones, particularly making stock
15) Ability to make standard soups
16) Ability to maintain a small repertoire of dishes that can be made on the fly and executed properly every time
I would add to this list the ability to cook pasta al dente. Nothing is more disappointing than digging into a beautiful dish of pasta, only to find that it has been cooked to mush. I would also include the ability to make some sauces. Maybe not all the mother sauces, but at least a good gravy.
What of these skills do you agree or disagree with, and what skills do you think a home cook should have?