Chowhound’s 10 Best Cooking Tips of 2013

Chowhound home cooks' collective wisdom is a resource of impressive depth, full of great advice on techniques, recipes, and ingredients. Here are 10 of the community's best tips from 2013:

1. DON'T DISS DRIED PASTA
Store-bought dried pasta isn't second best. Fresh and dried pastas are equally worthy, but their distinctive flavors and textures are suited to different applications.

2. FIND YOUR IDEAL MAC 'N' CHEESE
Whether you love it supercreamy, live for a crunchy top, or just want nothing but pure cheese flavor, there's a method that will deliver.

3. BAKE PERFECT CHEESECAKES
Great flavor can't save a cheesecake that's grainy, cracked, and soggy. A few simple tricks can prevent that sad fate.

4. STRETCH YOUR SAFFRON
Quality saffron costs a lot, so it's important to get the most flavor from every pinch.

5. FORGET FRYING POTATO CHIPS
The promise of crisp, delicious homemade potato chips without the mess of deep-frying sounds too good to be true, but the microwave makes it happen.

6. COOK OVER AN OPEN FIRE
Forget about camp stoves; you don't even need pots and pans. Campout cookery has never been so delicious—or so much fun.

7. AMP UP FRIED CHICKEN'S FLAVOR
Crisp, greaseless fried chicken is a wonderful thing—unless it's bland. Chowhounds have tips to ensure it's well seasoned throughout.

8. BANISH FLABBY SKIN ON ROASTED CHICKEN
It's a sad roasted chicken that emerges from the oven with pale, soft skin. Here are strategies for getting it extra crisp.

9. CHOOSE YOUR MEATBALL STRATEGY
Should you pan-fry or bake Italian-style meatballs before adding them to tomato sauce, or forgo browning altogether? Each method has its merits.

10. MASTER SHRIMP COCKTAIL
Plump, firm, and flavorful shrimp are the key to a great cocktail. Here's how to get them.

Photo by Flickr member Lablascovegmenu under Creative Commons