- Overcrowd the pans
Since as food cooks it releases moisture you need to leave plenty of room for the steam to escape. When you’re impatient or in a hurry, it’s tempting to overcrowd a pan, especially when you have a large amount to fry or brown. But those crusty bits of brown are critical for great flavor, especially with lower-fat recipes.
This browning principle applies to quick-cook foods like potato pancakes and chicken breasts. Leave breathing room in the pan for the best results. If you’re really in a hurry, use multiple pans.
- You don’t read the entire recipe ahead of time
I’m a culprit of this one. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through the recipe and realizing you’re missing an ingredient or missed a critical step. Even the best-of recipes by your favorite cookbook authors can forget information. Take the extra time, oh-impatient-one, and read each recipe with a critical eye before you start cooking.
Cooking Light Test Kitchen tester, Mary Drennen Ankar says, “You don’t want to be an hour away from dinner guests arriving when you get to the part of the recipe that says to marinate the brisket overnight or simmer for two hours.” Oops!
- You don’t get the pan hot enough before adding ingredients
You know the old saying, “a watched pan never boils.” Well, a watched pan never gets hot enough quick enough, either. An impatient cook barely heats the pan before adding oil and tossing in vegetables for a quick sauté or adding breaded cutlets for frying. But no sizzle, no great crust! It also leaves the food soggy. A hot pan is critical for sautéing veggies or creating a crust on meat, fish, and poultry. It also helps prevent food from sticking.
- No resting for meat after cooking
We get it. You didn’t get a chance to rest so why should your roast beef? But without proper resting those delicious juices don’t have the chance to stay inside the meat and make it juicy and tender. Instead, when you cut the meat, those delicious juices, run right out, leaving the roast dry.
Give yourself plenty of time when cooking so your meat (whether its roasted, grilled, seared, or sautéed) has time to rest at room temperature after it’s been removed from the heat. That cooling-off time helps the juices, which migrate to the center of the meat, to be distributed more evenly throughout.
How long should you let meat or poultry rest? For smaller cuts of meat or boneless, skinless chicken breast, five minutes is good. A whole chicken or standing rib roast takes 20 to 30 minutes.
- You boil instead of simmer
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