Cooking can be intimidating, especially when you are a home cook cooking for other people. We get it. But no fear, HomeMade is here to help tackle the most common mistakes home cooks make according to professional chefs. Avoid these mistakes and learn how to enhance your chef game with these simple techniques.
Opening the Oven Too Often
We’ve all been there. When cooking something in the oven, it’s super tempting to check on it by opening the oven door once or twice. But opening the oven too often is probably the biggest mistake made by home cooks. As a general rule, you should only open the oven door once while baking or cooking. Opening the oven allows all of the heat inside to escape. This creates fluctuations that can cause your food to collapse or cook unevenly. Leave the oven closed for at least 3/4 of the cooking time.
Cooking with extra virgin olive oil
If an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, it gives off toxic smoke. Because olive oil has a low smoking point, cooking with olive oil runs the risk of creating smoke that contains compounds that are harmful to human health. You may not even notice that you are breathing in this toxic smoke. Instead, try using coconut oil, ghee, lard or avocado oil.
Not Letting the Pan Get Hot Enough Before Adding Food
Believe it or not, one of the most common mistakes home chefs make is trying to cook food before the pan is hot enough. When you place your food on a pan that is not hot enough, you increase the risk of it sticking. Preheating your pan prevents food from sticking and ensures a crisp, brown crust. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to avoid, because all you have to do is absolutely nothing for the additional minutes your pan needs to reach the proper temperature.
Not Using a Meat Thermometer
One of the best ways to avoid overcooking or undercooking your meat is by using a meat thermometer. These kitchen tools are a must for any chef, as they can be used to prepare the perfect dish. More so, meat thermometers are not overly expensive. This means that you can take your cooking to the next level without breaking the bank.
Putting Meat Straight From the Fridge Into the Oven
If you place your meat in the oven or on the grill after it has been kept in the fridge, your food will cook unevenly. More so, the meat is likely to have a burnt exterior and an undercooked interior. Most home cooks know that they should never put frozen meat straight into the oven. However, if you want the best texture and taste, it’s recommended that you allow your food to stand for 30 to 45 minutes after it has been in the fridge.
Not Resting Meat
The flavor of meat is in its juices, so all you home cooks out there…do yourself a favor and rest your proteins. Cutting meat while it’s hot causes all the juices to end up on your cutting board. So give your proteins the proper rest it deserves and covered in foil for a few minutes. If you cut into it right away, the liquid will actually pool out. By letting it rest, the moisture is re-absorbed and your meat will be tender and juicy.
Resting the meat fully depends on the size of the cut of beef but as a guide, bigger roasts should rest for 10-20 minutes and your steak should breathe for at least five minutes. But experiment with what works the best and you’ll be cooking mouth-watering, juicy steaks in no time.
Under Or Over Seasoning Food
Over seasoning your food is a simple mistake (and it’s easy to add too much too quickly), so remember to test your food as you go. This happens to most home cooks at some point, so if you happen to shake that seasoning shaker a bit too hard, here are a few tricks you can do to fix it. Depending on your meal, sometimes a squeeze of lemon or drizzled honey will help. Using sweetness or sourness to counter the other intense flavors usually does the trick. If your soup or sauce is too salty, dilute it with water or cream. Remember, to prevent over seasoning sample as you go to ensure you hit that sweet spot without overpowering the dish.
Not Using Acid
Put enough salt in your dish and feel that putting anymore would over-season it, but still feel it’s lacking in taste? Add some sort of acid. Cooks around the world turn to acidic ingredients to enhance their recipes. Lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, wine and dairy will all elevate the dish. So play around with it. Have fun. Buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream and even parmesan cheese all bring acid to the table; and let’s not forget about our good old friend wine. Both red and white wine all are players when it comes to brightening up sauces. Last but not least, lemon, lime and vinegar are some of the most common ways to make a dish pop.