7 Common Cooking Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you are a world-class chef or a newbie to cooking, there are mistakes we all do (even knowingly sometimes) because of being in a rush, a little laziness here and there, or just simply not even knowing you’re making these mistakes. Here are a few mistakes to avoid in the kitchen to make your meals turn out perfectly!

1. Not reading the entire recipe before you start cooking.

I am very guilty of this way more often than I’d like to admit. You're excited to get cooking, so you dive right in, reading and following the recipe as you go. The problem is that some recipes aren't written in the correct order, and there's nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe and realizing you're missing a few ingredients or didn’t do things in the correct order.

Do this: Before you do anything, your first order of business should always be reading the recipe all the way through. It will give you a better idea of exactly what you'll be doing, and you'll have a chance to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you need.

2. Adding ingredients to a cold pan.

In most cases, it's better to heat up your pan and then add oil and food. Food should never touch a cold pan. Instead of getting a nice sear, the ingredients soak up the oil or butter, and are likely to stick to the pan.

Do this: Make sure the pan and oil are hot before adding any ingredients to the pan. A hot pan is key to preventing your food from sticking, and for getting a good sear.

3. Cooking meat straight from the refrigerator.

It doesn't matter if you're cooking beef, pork, chicken, or fish, it should never go straight from the fridge to a hot oven or grill. The result is a good piece of meat that's overcooked on the outside and undercooked, or even raw, at the center.

Do this: Take meat and fish out of the refrigerator, and let it sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes cooking. Bringing the protein to room temperature will allow it to cook more evenly throughout.

4. Overcrowding the pan.

When you squeeze too much into a pan, not only does the temperature lower, but there's too much moisture, which results in the food getting steamed instead of seared. This also results in uneven cooking.

Do this: Use the right size pan for the amount of food you're cooking. When you're cooking meat, make sure none of the pieces are touching; there should be space between the pieces. Consider using a larger pan, two small pans, or if necessary, work in batches.

This is the one I fall prey to most. I make sautéed vegetables ALL the time but it is incredible to me how they can turn out so different on any given night depending on what pan I use and how many veggies I cram in the pan. It is worth the extra flavor you get from searing your food to not overcrowd and make it little bit more food. Quality over quantity here, guys!

5. Not tasting food as it's cooking.

Cooking without tasting as you go is like writing a book without proofreading. Wait until dinner is on the table to give it a taste and you risk unbalanced flavors and lack of seasoning.

Do this: Taste as you cook, and add more seasoning and spices as necessary. Don't be afraid to taste again and again and again.

6. Not resting meat after it's cooked.

You're hungry and you're anxious to eat, but diving into that steak (roast chicken, pork tenderloin, or any other cut of meat) the second it comes out of the oven or pan is a grave mistake. As you cut into it, the juices will run across the cutting board or your plate.

Do this: Whether you're taking meat off the stove or grill, or out of the oven, let it sit at room temperature for at least five minutes (about 20 minutes for a whole chicken), so the juices have time to redistribute throughout the meat. Rather than see those juices spilled across the cutting board, your patience will be rewarded with a juicier, more delicious cut of meat. If you're worried about meat getting cold, loosely tent it with a piece of foil.

This shows you the difference between 2 steaks cooked exactly the same, but one was cut into right away, while the other rested for 10 minutes first.

Pretty crazy, huh? I’ll take that second, juicier steak, please!

  •   www.seriouseats.com
  •   www.thekitchn.com
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    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! mary@dvo.com

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