Developing and testing the assemblage of recipes gathered from home cooks all over the world for this year's special edition of the SAVEUR 100 tapped into virtually every method and trick in our arsenal. The four techniques described here are a few of our favorites—simple acts of cooking or prepping that we return to again and again.
1. The Swiss-made Star peeler also works well for making a julienne of vegetables like carrots and zucchini. With the peeler, cut the vegetable into long, wide strips. Stack the strips and, with the stack resting on its side, pinch the ends together. Run the peeler across the top of the stack to julienne.
2. Preparing mussels for steaming (see mussels with white wine, parsley, and garlic) is simple. Just scrub them under cold running water and remove their beards—the fibrous strands protruding from the shells that mussels use to attach themselves to rocks and other surfaces—with small jeweler's pliers, which provide a better grip than bare fingers do.
3. Garlic paste is an essential component of all kinds of rubs and flavor bases (it's also crucial for the stuffed chicken breasts recipe). Peel and crush garlic cloves with the side of a knife against a cutting board and sprinkle the garlic with a pinch of kosher salt, which acts as an abrasive and draws out moisture. Repeatedly scoop up and scrape the garlic–salt mixture against the board with the edge of the knife until a uniform paste forms.
4. A fast, reliable way to check whether small pieces of meat (like the venison burgers) are cooked through is to insert the tip of a knife into the meat, leave it for five seconds, then gently touch the blade to your fingertip. If the knife is warm to the touch, the food is sufficiently cooked.