Cooking Mistakes We All Make

Cooking Cold Meat

Taking meat straight from the fridge or freezer and cooking immediately is an error that can result in tough and undercooked meat. The reason this happens is due to the cold and uneven temperatures, the meat will cook slower in the middle. The outside of the meat will cook faster, and the middle parts can be undercooked, resulting in uncooked and potentially unhealthy meat. To prevent this, take meat out of the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes ahead of cooking time, and allow to rest at room temperature. Allow frozen meat to defrost in the refrigerator an appropriate amount of time as well. This is especially important for thicker cuts of meat.

Sticky Noodles

Clumped up noodles are the worst. Typically clumpy noodles are caused by two things, overcooking and cooking in too little water. Cooking in too little water increases the starch to water ratio, and creates a gluey type of result. Some people like to add a little oil to noodles during the cooking process but I find that that doesn’t allow pasta sauces to cling to the noodle. To avoid this, use a deep pot when boiling noodles and use plenty of water. It is tempting to use less water because the water boils quicker, but fight the urge!

Overly Herby Meal

Substituting dried herbs for fresh and fresh for dried, is definitely possible but switching it up does take a little calculating. Switching straight across will result in an overly herby dish, or a bland dish. Dried herbs are usually more potent than fresh. A good rule of thumb for most herbs is to use three times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried and vice versa. Therefore, one teaspoon dried equals one Tablespoon of fresh. If a recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons of fresh Herbs, use only 1 Tablespoon of dried. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dried herb, use 3 teaspoons of fresh. (Three teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon). You can always add more, but it’s like the third grade rule, No Takebacks.

Shriveled Old Man Bacon

Your bacon ends up shriveled, dry and burned in places. This is due to uneven cooking. When cooking on the cooktop, the heat is centered in the middle of the pan. To get an even cook on your bacon, try cooking in the oven. Place parchment or foil in the bottom of a baking sheet, a baking sheet on top will keep the bacon from cooking in its own fat. Use a sheet with sides, to keep the grease collected in the bottom of the pan. Lay bacon out flat, and avoid overlapping. Set the oven on 400 degrees. Some put the bacon in as the oven is preheating. My vintage stove would take forever to reach 400 degrees so I completely preheat, then put the pan in. A pan of bacon will take 15-20 minutes to cook. I really love this method because I can cook more at one time, and I don’t have to be concerned about splatters. I have found that I am less likely to burn bacon this way.

    Sharon Ng
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2012
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