I’ll Never Burn Pancakes Again! Her Simple Fix Is So Clever!
Like most of us, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the kitchen, but now, I’m never choking down burnt pancakes again— or mushy vegetables, gluey rice, or dry meat! That’s because I’m committing these TWELVE cooking fixes to heart, right after sharing them with you. No matter how complete our cooking educations are, there are sure to be some holes in our knowledge, and we’re never too old to learn – or even relearn – some important cooking basics. One Good Thing By Jillee decided to share her fixes for common cooking mistakes she’s made over the years, and we were inspired to do the same. From now on, let’s all stop:
- Over-crowing our pans
We’ve all become over-excited by a dish we’re making and crowded way too much of an ingredient into a pan. When it comes to things like ground beef or chicken, though, this crowding isn’t a just an error of portion-control; it’s also a big cooking mistake that results in soggy, wet dinner. Make sure to leave room in the pan for your meat to breathe and achieve the crisp, caramelized and brown effect you really want and need.
- Oversalting a dish
It’s as easy to fix this mistake as it is to make it! If you’re rushing through meal prep and accidentally add too much salt, balance it out with some lemon juice or potatoes. You can also make sure that nobody notices the extra salt by avoiding adding it to any other elements of the dish and then mixing the unsalted and salted together.
- Forgetting to use a thermometer
We’d all like to think that we can just look at our chicken and tell from the color that it’s done— but we would be wrong. In reality, we should all be using a meat thermometer to make sure that our chicken has reached the correct internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part. This way, your chicken will be safe to eat but not overcooked!
- Cooking meat straight out of the fridge
Temperature is important at the start of the cooking process, too. Though many of us learned to defrost frozen meats in the refrigerator, we still need to let them stand for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature to ensure even cooking.
- Not shocking boiled vegetables
Here’s an important step in veggie prep I never learned before now, but it definitely explains why they turn out so mushy so often. After boiling vegetables, it’s important to “shock” them by rinsing them in cold water or – even better – quickly dunking them in ice water. Otherwise, the veggies will keep cooking in their residual heat.
- Over-softening butter
It’s happened to us too many times to count— a recipe calls for softened butter, but in our effort to get that soft dairy fast, we end up with melted butter instead. Since the consistency actually does matter for the quality of our baked goods, we need to plan ahead a little better and simply set our butter out at room temp for 30 to 45 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can cut it into smaller pieces, or check out this clever hack.
- Bothering cooking food
Are you an impatient cook? Me too. It’s so hard to resist poking and prodding our food, especially when we’re hungry, but most of the time, it’s better to leave it alone, especially when dealing with meat. If your spatula doesn’t slide cleanly under the formed crust, it’s probably not time to flip it over— so just try to be patient and wait!
- Using the same pans for everything
Tempting as it is to believe otherwise, the existence of all the different pots and pans isn’t a conspiracy to cheat us out of money. Saucepans, Dutch ovens and the different kinds of skillets all have different purposes, and those uses depend on what you’re cooking and how. Check out The Kitchn’s guide for the ones we all actually need.
- Heating the pan and the food at the same time
You know how you preheat your oven when you bake? Same principle applies to your pans, believe it or not! For sautéing vegetables and creating a correct crust on meats, heating the pan first and adding the food to a hot pan is essential.
- Making sticky, gluey rice
Look, rice is always going to be at least a little sticky, BUT it doesn’t have to be a glutinous mass. If you simply cook rice the same way you cook pasta – surrounded by a lot more water than is common for rice-cooking – then drain it as soon as it reaches the consistency you want, the rice won’t rub together, get too soggy, or form a sticky ball.
- Cutting and eating meat as soon as it finishes cooking
You may have seen the instruction to let meat “rest” before, but if you’re like the majority of home cooks we know, you probably ignored it. Hey, we’re hungry! Still, if you actually take your recipe’s advice and follow this step, your meat will taste so much better, because resting allows the juices that tend to congregate in the center of the meat during cooking to spread back out to the whole piece, where they belong.
- Burning our pancakes
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a batch of pancakes without having to throw out the first one or two. If your hand’s up, either you’re a magician, or you already know this important tip: prep your pan the right way! Instead of pouring oil directly into it, coat a paper towel with about a tablespoon of oil, then pick up the paper towel with tongs and use it to brush the pan. Repeat between your batches in order to make sure the pan stays properly greased.
I’m excited to put these tips into practice and make all my meals better than ever. For even more tips and common cooking mistakes, be sure to check out One Good Thing By Jillee’s list. Were you surprised by anything on this list? Did you know all these things before, or did you also have some missing cooking knowledge? What are some other mistakes you find yourself making over and over again?