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Community Post: 12 Common Cooking Mistakes You’re Probably Making

1. 1. You don’t taste while you’re cooking

Were you born with a sixth sense which allows you to determine the taste of food without actually tasting it? Or do you have a sense of smell rivaling that of a blood hound? Oh no? Well, then you better be tasting what you’re cooking while you’re cooking it. Recipes may not always call for the “perfect” amount of seasoning and cooking times are generally estimates. Let your tongue be the controlling factor.

2. 2. You overcrowd your pan

It may be tempting to pack out your pan and cook all that meat in one fell swoop, but as food cooks, it releases moisture and if you don’t leave the meat with a little elbow room for the steam to escape, you’ll end up with a sadly soggy meat which falls short of the seared steak dinner you’ve been daydreaming about since before breakfast.

3. 3. Your Poached Egg Game is Bush League

Despite being a die hard proponent of keeping breakfast and lunch separate but equal, facts are facts and the fact is, brunch has emerged as king. If you’re going to live under the tyranny of this hybrid meal, you may as well learn how to make a proper poached egg. If your eggs are coming out ugly and tough, chances are your water is at a rolling boil when it should be at a gentle simmer. If that doesn’t work, try adding a few teaspoons of vinegar to help maintain the shape.

4. 4.You’re Using the Wrong Knife

The kitchen can be a terrifying place, 100 square feet of forbidding stainless steel and indecision. You may often find yourself crushing loaves of bread and shredding steak because of a cutting board faux pas, but luckily, there’s help

5. 5. You’re Guilty of Refrigerating Your Tomatoes

The delicate cells of tomatoes are prone to damage by excessive cold which can cause the cell walls to burst, resulting in a mealy texture. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: leave those babies on the counter.

6. 6. Overhandling Dough

When you expose flour to liquid and stir it around, the gluten (!!!) begins to form a protein network responsible for the chewiness in baked goods. Overhandling of dough may render your final product tough and chewy, so take it easy.

7. 7. Leave That Meat Alone

Constant turning of meat can interfere with searing in the case of steak and result in the loss of breading from pork chops and chicken. Though you may be tempted to constantly prod, push, press, flip and squeeze your meats, patience will be worth it in the long run.

8. 8. Your Pan is Too Hot

If you’re perplexed as to why your steak, chicken, pork and fish all end up the same texture (crispy), it may be that your pan is too hot. Consider investing a meat thermometer

9. 9. You burn your bacon

Bacon falls into the same category as pizza in the sense that even when it’s bad, it’s good, but it has the potential to be really good. A single bite of a well cooked piece of bacon can be a gustatory epiphany. You may be tempted to pan-fry bacon, but consider the drawbacks: Only a few strips fit in most skillets, the sloping sides of the pan result in uneven cooking, and worst of all, bacon strips shrink more than necessary in a hot pan.

To remedy these stove top shortcomings, bake your bacon to ensure evenly cooked, flat bacon strips.

10. 10. Stop Sogging Up Your Salad

Premature addition of dressing will undoubtedly wilt lettuce and sog your matoe (I’m trying to make fetch happen). Consider adding dressing right before you’re ready to eat and investing in pre-packaged condiments for meals on the go.

11. 11. Your Guacamole Literally Looks Like Crap

Chances are if you’ve ever made guacamole, you served it in a large bowl, exposing a large surface area to the air, which results in oxidation of the top layer and browning. You can only mix the guacamole so many times before the bowl of dip becomes brown throughout.

In the future, serve smaller portions while keeping the rest refrigerated or adding about 3 tablespoons of lime juice per avocado.

12. 12. Your French Fries Are a Flop

If the crispiness of your french fries is falling short of expectations, you’re either crowding the pan or your oil isn’t hot enough. If you can’t figure this one out, perhaps you should take a page out of Anderson Cooper’s book and head on over to Mcdonald’s.

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