6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When CookingJune 27, 2016
We’ve all erred in the kitchen before. For some cooking tips that will really save you in a pinch though, we’ve compiled our 6 common mistakes to avoid when cooking. Because we’ve always got your back.
1. Leaping in the shallow end of the pool
The first mistake that spells disaster in the kitchen is to jump in half-baked. Cooking is the process of changing the nature of raw ingredients by boiling, baking, grilling, cooling and chopping. Really, it’s a bit like a science experiment, and woe betide the scientist who begins an experiment with no clue as to how she will finish. Just as a good researcher would never just turn on the bunsen burner and figure it out from there, a good cook never starts without reading the recipe! Reading the recipe all the way through, preparing your ingredients ahead of time, and making sure you have enough time to cook are the cornerstones to avoiding mistakes down the track.
2. Not tasting as You Go
Not just science, good cooking is intuitive, is art. To jump with gay abandon from one metaphor to another, to not taste your concoction as you go is to paint a canvas blindfolded. Tasting your food as you go (yep, even cake batter!) helps you better understand the effect of adding a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon to the taste of your food. It also means that if you make a small mistake when you’re cooking, you can adjust and fix it before it’s too late!
3. Overcrowding the Pan
When we pan fry things, we want a little fat and a high heat to combine and create a Maillard reaction, caramelising, browning and generally making everything tasty. When you overcrowd a pan, too much moisture can become trapped in the pan. This causes things to start steaming and sweating – exactly what you don’t want. If in doubt, try cooking things in a pan in batches – the extra time will be worth the far superior result, we promise.
4. Not Resting Your Meat!
We know we bang on about this, but not resting meat is a sure fire way to ruin the best cuts of meat. If you don’t give your porterhouse a moment to gather itself together after cooking, on your own head and overworked teeth be it. After cooking a steak of a roasting a joint, remove it from the heat source , wrap with foil and leave for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the meat. The proteins will relax into silky tenderness, and we promise this won’t be long enough for anything to get cold.
5. Using cheap substitutes for the Real Thing
see: lemon juice, vanilla extract, garlic
We’re all for shaving down time spent in the kitchen, but a classic mistake is to try to take a shortcut when it’s really not necessary. When it comes to big flavours that are the centrepiece of a dinner or cake, there’s nothing to be gained from not going for the real thing. Do yourself a favour and ditch bottled lemon juice, ‘imitation vanilla’, jarred garlic – trust us, the real thing cannot be imitated. Real represent real!
6. Pasta in a thimble. Perish the thought
If your spaghetti is forever clumping together, the problem is probably that you’re not letting the pasta ‘swim’. The golden rule for pasta is that for every 100g of pasta, you should be boiling in 1 litre of water. It might seem like a lot, but upping the amount of water and the size of the pot you cook your pasta in is the way to avoid this common mistake of lumpy, clumpy fettuccine.