I don’t consider myself a pro or anything in the kitchen, but I’d like to think that I know my way around the kitchen pretty well and know what to do and what not to do. However, both Life Hacker and the Eating Well section of the Huffington Post did a really good article about some of the common kitchen mistakes that we all do and just don’t realize it. It opened up my eyes and I wanted to share, since there were listed some mistakes that I didn’t realize I was doing!
#1) Letting oil heat till it smokes: Now this one confuses me, because I’ve always read that you should heat up your oil until it just starts to get a little smoky, especially if cooking in a wok. But according to the article in the Huffington Post, when oil goes beyond its smoke point, they taste bad and start to break down, forming harmful compounds. The trick here is to get the oil to just a shimmering point, and then it’s hot and ready for use. Now, depending on which type of oil you use, the sweet point can differ, so just keep an eye on your pan and oil.
#2) Stirring your food too much: I’m sure we all know why this is bad; stirring too much can cause food to break apart, ruining the texture and won’t allow food enough time to brown or caramelize. I know I sometimes do this to help prevent food from burning or sticking to the pan. I think the trick here is to monitor the heat and temperature and use a non-stick pan, unless the recipe states otherwise.
#3) Not letting your meat rest before carving: This rule I learned really quickly, early on – never cut into meat without letting it rest and the juices re-dispersing first. If you cut into the meat too soon, all that juicy goodness will just run all over your cutting board!
#4) Rinsing meat before cooking: I always thought this was a great idea, I tend to wash all my seafood and poultry especially and pat dry before cooking. But the article states that all that bacteria being washed off just ends up sitting at the bottom of your sink, totally unsanitary! The article does suggest patting meat with a towel before cooking. For me, I think I will continue to rinse my seafood and poultry, and just make sure I thoroughly clean my sink afterwards as well.
#5) Using non-stick pans on high heat: I wasn’t aware of this one, I figure any pan works well on high heat. However, it appears that high heat can cause the non-stick lining to release PFCs (perfluorocarbons) in the form of fumes. PFCs are known to be linked to liver damage and developmental problems. So I will be switching and only using my cast iron pan and stainless steel pans on high heat!
#6) Over mixing batter: Anyone who bakes knows what happens when batter is over mixed, and I think this is only something you recognize with practice. I know it took me a few batches of cupcakes and cookies to realize what I was doing wrong! You want everything to be well combined, but especially if you’re using a mixer, over processing your batter can cause the dough to toughen and break down your batter.
Here is a link to the full article with their list of Top Ten Common Kitchen Mistakes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eatingwell/10-bad-cooking-habits-you_1_b_1373171.html