Cooking is a science, and if you don't know how it's done, then you're going to end up with a meal that tastes worse than it could. Unfortunately, a lot of people are making these same mistakes when it comes to preparing common dishes.
It turns out that a lot of the common things people do to make pancakes are wrong. Stirring out every lump in the batter often leads to over-mixing, which makes the pancakes chewier instead of fluffy, so it's best to leave a few lumps in. You also shouldn't prepare batter more than an hour ahead of cooking, nor should you use butter (clarified butter or vegetable oil won't burn as easily).
You’re Overcrowding The Pan
In order to cook a lot of meat more quickly, most people will jam a large batch of beef or chicken chunks into their pan, thinking that as long as it's all touching the pan, it'll cook. Sure, the food will cook, but it'll be soggy and not browned properly. Give the meat some room to release its moisture and it will cook more thoroughly.
You Shouldn’t Thaw Your Steaks
Before cooking a frozen steak, most people will let it thaw before cooking it. Cooking a frozen steak without thawing it will take a bit longer, but it actually tastes significantly better! The unthawed steaks hold more moisture and include fewer overcooked bits than steaks that were cooked after thawing.
You Don’t Heat Your Pan Enough
Before adding food to it, you should make sure that your pan is already very hot. This is essential for sautéing vegetables, making a nice sear on meats, and preventing sticking. Once you've let your pan heat up for a good amount of time, add oil and start cooking.
You Boil When You Should Simmer
One of the most common errors in the kitchen comes from not knowing the difference between a simmer and a boil. If a recipe calls for simmering water, it should have a bubble break the surface every second or two. A more vigorous bubbling is a boil, and while that can get a dish ready faster, it could also overcook your meal.
You Don’t Brown-Proof Your Guac
Everyone loves guacamole, but not when it turns brown after it's left out for a little while. Oxygen is guacamole's archenemy, but you can help fight against it with acidic juices like lime and lemon. Soak your avocado chunks in citrus juice before mashing them, and then add some more juice to the dip after it's been made. This will delay the browning process, but you should still only serve portions of the guac at a time and keep the rest in an airtight container.
You Don’t Dry Your Tofu
Tofu is packed in water, which helps keep it fresh but can also make your meal soggy. You probably already drain your tofu to get rid of most of the water, but you should press it as well to be sure it's as dry as possible. After draining, put your tofu on a paper towel on a plate, and then place another paper towel and plate on top.
Add Baking Soda To Hard Boiled Eggs
Peeling hard boiled eggs can be a chore, but if you add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water before cook them, it's so much easier to remove the shell.
You Don’t Skim Your Soup Strategically
That greasy film that can cover the top of some soups is never good, but it can be avoided. Maybe you already try to skim the grease layer off with a spoon as it cooks, but the best way to ensure that your broth is beautiful is to move the soup halfway off the burner every 15 minutes and skim from the edge not on the heat, as that is where the fatty film will collect.
You Overcook The Noodles In Baked Pasta
Fully cooking your noodles for a baked pasta is actually not a good thing — it will leave you with a mushy, limp mess after it comes out of the oven. You should actually undercook your noodles in the boiling phase, leaving them firmer even than al dente pasta. The firm noodles will cook even more when mixed with the hot sauce and put in the oven, so they'll reach the perfect firmness if you leave them pretty hard to begin with.
You Overheat Chocolate
Melting chocolate is a much more delicate process than most people assume. If you don't melt it gently and slowly, your chocolate could be left scorched or grainy. If microwaving, take it out and stir every 20-30 seconds.
You Overdo The Milk In Scrambled Eggs
The quality of scrambled eggs depends on how you cook them, and on the quality of your eggs. If you've got good eggs, you really don't need much else for them to make a good scramble. Try adding just a bit of milk or none at all next time you're scrambling eggs.
You Don’t Let Roasted Chicken Rest
After cooking a roasted chicken, you may want to dig in right away, but it's important to let it sit for a good 15 minutes before you carve it. The juices need that time to redistribute through the chicken, and cutting into it before they've settled will leave all of their deliciousness on the cutting board.
You Use Fresh Tomatoes In Marinara Sauce
This may be surprising, but fresh tomatoes are actually not as good as canned ones when it comes to making marinara sauce. Fresh tomatoes just taste better raw, so save yourself the time and fuss by getting some canned tomatoes, which will actually taste better as a sauce.
You Roll Your Pizza Dough
The crust is the cornerstone of a good pizza, so you need to be sure that the dough you are using is prepared correctly. A lot of people use a rolling pin to flatten out their dough, but that actually makes the crust dense and tough. Pros get around this by tossing their dough, but you should just use your hands to gently stretch the dough.
You’re Too Strict With Your Pesto Ingredients
Most people make pesto with basil and pine nuts, but the no-cook sauce will taste great with so many different combinations! Pine nuts are crazy expensive, so substituting them for some pecans, almonds, or walnuts might be a good idea for some people. Also, basil tastes great in pesto, but so does parsley, cilantro, kale, or arugula. Don't be afraid to try out different greens and nuts combos in your pesto — we promise that it'll taste good no matter what!
You Aren’t Beating Your Cookie Batter Enough
If you're beating your butter and sugar just until they're combined, it's not long enough, and the same goes with the eggs. To make sure that your cookies will be light and fluffy, you need to cream your butter and sugar by beating them about three to five minutes.