Even if you love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are probably some areas where you hit a few snags while preparing your latest cuisine. We’ve all overcooked a meal, overloaded a pan, or measured ingredients incorrectly, for example.
So check out these top eight common cooking mistakes and ways to avoid them the next time you prepare a meal.
Your Measurements Are Inaccurate
While estimating ingredient amounts works fine for some meals, it can lead to disaster for others. For instance, instead of packing ingredients into a measuring cup, just lightly spoon in the ingredient into the cup for a more accurate measurement. Check out this article for the most accurate ways to measure wet and dry ingredients.
You Cook Meat Right Out of the Fridge
While it’s very important to keep meat cold in the fridge or freezer, it’s also important to let your meat sit out of the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking it. If you take it from the fridge and immediately cook it, it will probably result in an undercooked interior and overcooked exterior.
You Don’t Read the Recipe
Preparing a new recipe can be exciting! And you may be tempted to play it by ear with some steps in the process. However, by taking the time to read the recipe in-depth and going step by step as you prepare it, you will be more likely to get it right the first time.
Your Pan Isn’t Hot Enough
It’s also important to heat up your pans prior to cooking. Why? Because if the pan isn’t hot enough, the food will soak up the butter or oil added into the pan. This keeps the food from caramelizing, crusting, or searing properly. To make sure your pan is preheated accordingly, add a very small piece of the food you want to cook into the pan. If it sizzles immediately, the pan is ready to cook with.
You Over-Soften Butter
When a recipe calls for softened butter, you may wonder what that means. Basically, softened butter means that if you press your finger on the butter, it should leave a dent in the butter. But, if the butter is over-softened, it won’t hold its shape if you try the “finger test.” To soften butter the right way, let cold butter sit out for 30 to 45 minutes before using it.
You Put Too Much Food in the Pan
If you want to cook as quickly as possible, you might be tempted to put too much in one pan. “Overcrowding” the pan makes it more difficult to produce a good caramelization or crust on the outside of the food. Cook in smaller batches to allow for increased air flow and more heat distribution. Or, if it’s necessary, cook with several pans at once.
You Turn the Food Too Often
If you like to check out how your food is cooking, you may be tempted to poke at it and flip it over a bit too much. And if you do that, it might keep a nice crust from forming on the outside of the dish. So, let the food cook until a spatula can slide easily underneath it. Then it’s ready to flip.
You Don’t Let Meat Rest Properly
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If you sauté, grill, roast, or sear meat, make sure to let it rest before cutting and serving it. This lets the juices spread throughout the meat. Let meats like steaks and chicken breasts rest for five or more minutes. For whole roasts or birds, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting it up and serving. You can keep the meat warm by placing foil over it.