There’s any number of Do’s and Dont’s and other advice that a ‘serious’ foody can or will expound on at length about things you must do unless you want to ruin the dish.
I was thinking on one the other day and realised that IME, it actually doesn’t make a lick of difference. Specifically that you must let your steak reach room temperature before cooking. I like me a steak and generally buy good quality stuff. But trying both cooking straight out of the fridge and allowing it to warm first, I’ve never noticed a difference in the end product.
Anyone else ‘break the rules’ with food and not destroy it?
I don’t follow those rules, I work on the theory if the end product is edible, it works.
I’ve put a slab of frozen steak in the fry pan before, cooking time adjusted. Burn the outside on each side, then turn down the heat and keep cooking. The inside thaws, then warms then starts to cook. I get it off when the inside is warmed (and thawed) raw, never had any issues.
Also, spaghetti sauce in a jar that’s supposed to be heated separately. As a single parent when the kids were young I got really good at knocking together a quick meal when I got home form work.
So, Boil a pan of water, chuck in a bunch of bite size veges and a packet of pasta, boil until pasta is cooked , drain and tip in the spag sauce straight from the jar.
Stir and put back on a low heat until the sauce is mixed through and heated, serve with whatever meat you like.
You didn’t notice a difference in end product because bringing the meat to room temperature isn’t supposed to make a difference in end product. It does, however, make it easier to consistently cook to the desired temperature, and if you like meat medium-rare or rare, it makes it easier to get a warm-yet-pink/red center.
If you prefer your steak more well done, or if you’re not overly worried about cooking your steak exactly right, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s just a “this-makes-it-easier” kind of thing, not a “this-makes-it-better” kind of thing.
Unsalted butter. I suppose there may be some delicate frou frou something where it matters, but 99 times out of 100, there’s an instruction to add salt in the recipe anyhow. I just cut back the added salt ever so slightly - and even that’s probably overkill, as there’s very little salt in a tablespoon of salted butter. Besides, a small bit of salt in even sweet dishes enhances the flavor.
Draining the fat after browning ground beef. Especially because the recipe often than says to add another fat or oil. Draining hot grease is a pain in the butt and a bit of a safety risk, and if I’m just going to add fat back into the pan, why not simply use the beef fat that’s already there? (Note: I tend to buy lean ground sirloin for most things, so there’s not a gigantic amount of fat. I don’t try to get away with this if I’m using <80% lean.)
Oh, I always drain ground beef, there’s so much grease that hardens into hard layer of white tallow, wouldn’t want to eat that, ewwww! Adding ‘other oils’ serves a purpose, but ground beef swimming in grease is just nasty.
The only other thing I have to contribute is when making peach cobbler, I sometimes use drained canned peaches instead of fresh. I know, I know, but cooked fresh peaches end up tasting like canned peaches anyway.
Rachel Ray once made a chicken recipe - jerk chicken? - and she said she was putting in ‘some’ of the flavors, it was going to come out tasting fine with some ingredients, not every single quarter teaspoon of exotic hot sauce or two tablespoons of minced Scotch bonnet peppers. If I leave something small out because I don’t have it, well, it still tastes pretty good even if not 100% authentic. I may use lemon juice or vinegar, and no one has ever said, “I can’t detect the quarter cup of dry white wine”.
The same goes for cooking wine. Everyone says don’t use it because it’s salty. But anything I use it for is going to call for salt anyway. If I’m making risotto, the cooking wine, pancetta, and parm make up just the right amount of saltiness.
I never add oil to pasta water before boiling, although I do add salt. The idea that a bit of oil will keep the pasta from sticking together is absurd. And I always drain my pasta, then dump it straight into the sauce to keep cooking a bit. I’ve never had any issue with pasta sticking together.
I chop the hell out of my lettuce with a metal knife … in the short amount of time between hacking away and eating, it is NOT going to turn brown and slimy - and I rarely have lettuce around in the fridge long enough to get brown edges on the cuts. We go through serious amounts of salad in this house =)
I don’t think bay leaves do anything at all to the flavors of anything you put them in. I can’t tell any difference whether I use two, four, six or none at all. I wonder if I could chop them up and make tea.
I would like to hear more about your salads. I always mean to make/eat salad and often buy the ingredients, but then I’m just not in the mood or whatever and I throw out my lettuce after it gets brown and slimy. Yes, I’m a bad person. I want to be better. Help me.