Diving into the world of cooking can be intimidating, so it’s easy to see why there are people out there who flat out refuse to cook. However, once you try it out, you might be glad you did. After all, cooking is something that is as simple or as complicated as you make it.
Sometimes it’s as easy as just heating up some food, and sometimes getting it right can be the difference between mere seconds or minutes. Even the pros find it challenging – ever eaten at a restaurant where the food was cooked too much or not enough? It’s happened to all of us.
In recognition of the art of cooking, we’ve compiled a list of tips, as well as habits to avoid. Who knows, maybe one of these nuggets of advice could help you out?
BBQing, Pan Frying, and Patience
When the sun is shining and you’ve got your charcoal BBQ out, the excitement can lead you to neglecting proper cooking practices and just going with the flow. Whilst this can be great and food can potentially turn out fine if you’re lucky, patience and timing makes the difference between a good BBQ and a great BBQ.
Exercise your patience and wait for flames to die down before throwing any food on the grill, otherwise you’ll end up with meat that’s burnt on the outside and still raw on the inside. Make sure you rely on the hot coals to cook your food instead of the fire. Look on the bright side, it means you can have a beer and a chat with guests whilst the BBQ is warming up.
Whether pan frying or BBQing, give the meat some time to rest between getting it out of the fridge and before you start cooking it. This will allow it to reach room temperature and help it to cook better, preventing it from staying raw in the middle longer due to chilled temperatures.
It also helps if you make sure you get the pan hot enough, as this will make sure you can sear steak and brown other meat and food properly. Pretty much anything you fry will need the pan to be heated up beforehand.
Stirring Too Much or Too Little
Much like you can undercook and overcook something, the same is true when it comes to stirring food. If you’re constantly stirring, it doesn’t allow for the food to get proper contact with the bottom of the pan. This means it won’t be cooked as well, and it won’t obtain the best potential flavour. For this very same reason, you should avoid overfilling the pan too.
Allow your ingredients to fry, and practice timing when to stir until you master it. Also, don’t forget to try out and taste your own cooking to see if it’s coming along okay. Doing so could be key to spotting mistakes early or discovering what your dish is missing. But don’t lick the same spoon that you’re using to stir…
Don’t Be Wasteful
Food can still be used after “best before”, it’s the “use buy” dates that you need to worry about and follow more strictly, as these could make people ill. If an item is only slightly after a best before date, it should still be good depending on what it is – sauces and sachets should be fine. Have a taste or a sniff for yourself before you start cooking.
To further reduce waste, don’t use too much of an ingredient (it may make the recipe worse) and store food properly, such as covering up butter.
You don’t have to wash meat as that can end up spreading harmful bacteria, but washing veg is a good idea because of pesticides – or pests! It’s unlikely, but still worth doing. How many times have you seen a news article about someone finding something they shouldn’t have in their fruit, veg, or salad?
On the subject of meat and veg, make sure you keep them separate from each other, especially if you’re cooking for vegan or vegetarian guests. It’s also important to not contaminate these foods with the other uncooked bacteria.
Definitely wipe all surfaces after cooking too, this is important when dealing with raw meat.
Don’t just cook the same foods over and over, although it might be easier and quicker, taking time to find new recipes and ingredients can bring great rewards and newfound confidence. Who knows, you might even find your new favourite go-to meal.
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