Thursday, September 22, 2011

3 Common Cooking Mistakes

Contrary to popular belief, you can't live off of take-out food and microwaveable dinners forever. Sometimes, you just need that freshly fried egg in the morning to get your day started. But before you crack out your knives and get ready to dice perfectly squared tomato pieces, lets admit it, you're not a world class chef. Below, you'll find the most common cooking mistakes that change your perfectly seasoned steak into a rough piece of burnt charcoal.

What a feast!

3. Not Preheating The Pan

When cooking cuts of meat and other foods, it's always best to pre-heat the pan. But why? Isn't it just some luxury for rick people that have all the time in the world and can afford the wasted gas/flames from their stoves? You're a working class everyday Joe, you don't have the time or money to pre-heat the pan!

There are various reasons to pre-heat your pan that aren't related to rich smugness. One of the first reasons, is to prevent the food you're about to cook from absorbing all the cool, room temperature oil in your pan. You can usually see this if you're cooking some spinach and find yourself with a pan full of greasy greens. Not as healthy as you intended.

Pictured: Carrots

Another reason is simple, even cooking. After your pan is pre-heated, the heat is evenly distributed around the pan, allowing the entire food to be cooked, not just a small corner to the right. If you don't pre-heat your pan, not only will your food be overcooked on one side and under cooked on another side, but you'll find it a hundred times more difficult to get a good sear on meat and without the sear to seal in all the juices and help create flavor, you might as well go vegan.

What horrors!

If you don't hear that loud sizzle searing your food when you place your meats/vegetables onto the pan, give it a minute.

2. Cutting Meat Without Letting It Rest

First we had to pre-heat the pan, and now we need to let meat rest after we cook it too? Why do you need to stand around and watch steam float away from your perfectly seared cut of beef? Is this some type of moral thing that allows you to briefly reflect on life before consuming the carcass of another animal?

"What have I done?!"

The reason to let meat rest after cooking is to allow the meat to retain it's natural juices. If you decide to be impatient and cut the meat straight off the pan, you'll find the delectable juices running away into the cutting board, what a waste! If you allow meat to rest before cutting, the meat will retract the juices back in, thus allowing maximal flavor. Otherwise, you might as well squeeze the juices out into a trashcan after you finish cooking and serve crunched up, dried piece of sadness.

1. Not "Shocking" Vegetables When Finished Cooking

Shocking vegetables? What type of sick delusions am I talking about? The act of "shocking" vegetables isn't literally giving them a good scare, but the act of pouring the vegetables into ice cold water after cooking. Unless you plan to serve the food immediately, you must "shock" the vegetables as soon as you take it out of the pan or you'll end up with a mushy soft goo.

After reaching desired texture and color, you need to stop cooking, otherwise you'll overcook it. A no-brainer right? But the thing is, even after you take the food out of the pan, the greens continue to cook. The residual heat will continue to cook the vegetables long after you take it out of the pan. Soon enough, you'll find your plate covered with mushy green substances and less crisp delicious green peas.

It'll look less like this, and more like predigested chunks of apathy.

To avoid this, you simply need to take the cooked product and dunk it into ice water or run it other cold tap. This will effectively stop the cooking process and allow your dish to be ten times more presentable than broccoli that dissolves upon touch.