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Here are 13 foods that many of us could be making much better.
1. Meat and poultry
If you aren’t letting meat and poultry warm up to room temperature before cooking it, you’re probably getting food that’s overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside.
An instant-read thermometer is worth investing in too, especially for more ambitious jobs such as slow-cooking prime rib.
2. Meat and poultry, again
It’s hard to resist the temptation when you’re starving, but don’t tuck into meat or poultry as soon as you stop cooking.
Letting it rest for a bit (5 minutes for a steak, 20 minutes for a roast chicken) delivers more delicious, more juicy results.
3. Frozen veg
Don’t microwave it, even if that’s what it says on the packet: steaming the veg instead of microwaving keeps everything crisp and crunchy, not sad and soggy.
Don’t throw out the water.
A little bit of salted pasta water – you are salting it, not oiling it, aren’t you? – helps the sauce cling to the pasta, and ensures super-tasty results.
In most cases you should wait until your pan is hot before cooking, but bacon is an exception.
Stick it in the pan before you turn on the hob and you’ll render the fat more slowly, resulting in crispier, less greasy bacon.
Are you keeping your meat or fish in big chunks, slow-cooking your onions, leaving the garam masala until near the end of cooking and using ghee or coconut oil rather than olive oil?
No? Then you, sir or madam, are missing out on a whole world of flavour.
Crack your eggs on a flat surface, not on the bowl or pan: if you don’t, you’re increasing the risk of a broken yolk.
Don’t whack the hob up to full unless you like burnt eggs and splatter everywhere, and don’t use a stainless steel pan unless you really enjoy washing up.
If you’re cooking on a pan or barbecue, make sure it’s really hot so the fish doesn’t stick – and don’t let it cook too long, or it’ll be too dry.
And whatever you do, don’t keep flipping it. If it doesn’t slide easily, it isn’t ready to flip.
Don’t thaw a frozen steak: while it takes longer to cook, it actually loses less moisture and is less likely to be overcooked than if you’ve thawed it.
The trick is to brown it in a pan or skillet, slow roast it for a bit and then fry it quickly again. Trust us, the results are amazing.
Sprouts needn’t be sulphurous: roast them, don’t boil them, don’t let them overcook and keep the seasoning simple.
11. Fried or deep-fried anything
If you’re pan-frying or deep frying food, don’t let the pan become too crowded: a too-busy pan makes meat soggy and hard to brown, and too much food being deep-fried tends to stick together.
It’s better to cook in stages or use two pans than chuck everything in at once.
12. Mashed potatoes
Russet potatoes make better mash than waxy red or white ones, and they cook better if you put them in cold water you then heat up.
Try not to mash too enthusiastically either: that releases starch, which can make your potatoes pasty.
Many people don’t defrost frozen turkeys properly: they need three to four hours per kilo, so a 10Kg turkey needs 30 to 40 hours to defrost properly in the fridge and around 20 hours at room temperature in the kitchen.