View Full Version : How can I cook with less mess?

03-17-2015, 07:06 AM
Pretty much no matter what I cook, the cooker gets messy. Fat spatters, liquids seep over and spill or condense, etc. How can I reduce the mess?

03-17-2015, 07:16 AM
Not all messes are entirely avoidable but you can avoid the worst of them by using larger pots and pans and lowering the heat to cook at temperatures and speeds you can more easily control from spilling or splattering all over.

03-17-2015, 07:19 AM
I used to work as a cook and now I like to cook for pleasure. The best way to reduce mess is to spend a little time preparing before you start cooking (get the ingredients out, set up your works station, pull out the knives, tools, measuring cups you need), and clean as you go: have a couple of dishtowels out, use them as your cooking to keep surfaces wiped down. Finally, slow down and take your time.

03-17-2015, 07:26 AM
Mise en place and clean as you go. Along with that, we have an unspoken rule that the cook relaxes after dinner while the other person cleans up.

03-17-2015, 07:39 AM
Clean as you go is the way. I've tried just being less messy, and honestly, that takes more time than cleaning does.

For me, the key to cleaning is two things:

- lots of clean dishtowels/rags in a handy spot. I've been in many kitchens where they have one or two towels stashed in a drawer somewhere, and maybe a couple dish rags. Nope. Have a stack of each, and they need to be on the counter when you're cooking. Personally, I buy bright towels and keep them in a wicker basket on the counter. They look nice, and they're handy.

The reasoning behind this is that if a towel is handy, you'll clean RIGHT NOW. If you have to go looking for a fresh one, you'll wait. Therein lies the trick to a cleaner kitchen.

- All those little in-between times while you're cooking is time to clean. Waiting for the water to boil? Clean the counter. Waiting for the veggies to saute? Throw some dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Always be moving.

Another thing that adds to this is "Do your mis before you start cooking." That is, dice up the vegetables, measure out the liquids, trim the meat BEFORE you start cooking. It makes for more focused and fun cooking, and you also don't have to go looking for the paprika when the onions are sauteing, so you have time to wipe down the counter.

Really, it's a rhythm, and when you get it right, it's fun. I also quite often end up with a cleaner kitchen after I cook than when I begin.

03-17-2015, 10:33 AM
Use tongs to slide your food into the oil/water/hot liquid you are cooking it in. Don't drop it in causing splashes. And as Quicksilver said use bigger pots not filled as much

Darth Panda
03-17-2015, 10:57 AM
Cook everything in an aluminum foil pouch in the oven, clean up from the assembly assembly as it bakes, eat out of the pouch, and then throw it away.


even sven
03-17-2015, 12:51 PM
Learn to use a slow cooker.

03-17-2015, 01:05 PM
Lower temperatures on the stove. Larger pots and pans and bowls. Don't rush.

03-17-2015, 01:08 PM
Keep something (a bowl, a bag, whatever) on your counter to put scraps in right away if your trash is more than a step away from your prep. Or two containers, if some scrap is destined for stock. Or put a newspaper or colander in your sink to catch trimmings, such as while peeling potatoes or cleaning shrimp.

Learn to do more in fewer pots and pans, even if it will be plated separately. Need bacon and sauteed onions to top a dish? Let's say, pork chops and rice. Cook the bacon first, set aside, then soften your onions in that bacon grease. Remove those, add a little oil, then do your pork chops in that. Rice is going already, of course. Now when the rice and chops are done, you can make a little pan sauce with what's left at the bottom, which will taste of bacon, pork, and onions. Hey, some people would do all this in separate pans.

Another example. Sometimes if I'm going to make pasta and steamed vegetables (say, peas), I'll start the peas, then drop the pasta in the same water. Strain them both, return to same pot with oil, lemon juice, grated cheese, maybe a little chopped smoked meat like parma ham, and pepper. Instant sauce, one pan.

03-17-2015, 02:26 PM
Use a barbeque

03-17-2015, 02:55 PM
One tip is a spatter screen (example (http://www.amazon.com/Splatter-Screen-13-Inch-Diameter/dp/B00167W8MY))

It will let steam out, but prevents droplets from being thrown out. Equally good for simmering spaghetti sauce as for frying chicken. Throw it in the dishwasher when you're done.

I also agree with the plan of multi-tasking your cooking implements. For example, in a typical weekend breakfast, I'll put the oven on warm and get the plates in there. Cook the bacon first; move it onto the plates to stay warm. Drain off some grease, and cook the hash browns in the same pan. Move hash browns onto the plates to stay warm. Do the eggs last, using the bacon grease you drained off before. Serve each plate as the eggs are done.

One skillet, one bowl, one spatula. And you used your spatter screen to stop bacon grease from jumping out of the pan while you cooked so the stove is still clean.

But it gets even better: while the pan is still sizzling hot, run it under hot water in the sink. Dry with a paper towel. Now your pan is clean too.

03-17-2015, 03:37 PM
Unpossible! I made my tastiest ever Irish Soda Bread and all kinds of ingredients wound up the floor. I swept, mopped, and swept some more. All is good now.

Use a barbeque

Ooh. Good idea. It was 15C here today in St. Petersburg - if it's this warm next St. Pats - I'll BBQ the ISB (I think then it's called Farl). This years ISB was awesome!

Saturn Dreams
03-18-2015, 12:20 AM
It depends on the kinds of mess. Certain things like flour on the counter when making breads or cakes are unavoidable. Splatters and dribbles from cooking means you are overcrowding the cookware or not using one large enough. Also, if you invest in something solid and heavy-duty, this will promote even and stable heat distribution which prevents localized hotspots that contribute to surface explosions and food splattering.

As for general clean-up, wipe as you go along and youíll find you wonít have a major disaster scene at the end. Donít worry about cleaning every little mess on the spot, or you might end up an Anal Retentive Chef ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVRrYw9mqEA).

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