It’s been a while since I royally messed up something in the kitchen. I’ve gotten good at salvaging curry that is too spicy, pastas that are downright bland, sauces that taste flat or too salty. I’ve learned to scrape the burned parts off bread and pizza (or just learned to like the blackened bits). I’ve figured out what to do with overcooked chicken, and I can even bring (some) sad greens back to life. But this past week, I screwed up bad, and even I couldn’t find a way to correct it.
I went to quickly broil some asparagus to nestle up next to seared scallops with balsamic pan sauce and rosemary roasted potatoes. (I actually overcooked the scallops, but the sauce was tasty and covered that up.) I tossed the asparagus in some oil, salt and pepper and stuck them under the broiler for a few minutes. When I checked them, they were starting to brown, but were still crisp. In the midst of the scallop fiasco, I forgot about the asparagus, and when I remembered them they were equal parts blackened and mushy. In short: not an awesome combination.
Seriously, even just trying to transfer them from pan to platter proved a challenge. They were long stringy spears of green mush. Yum! On a more creative day, and with a bit more time, I might have figured SOMETHING out. (Asparagus soufflés?) But, with the rest of the meal done and plated, there was no time avert disaster, just forge on ahead. So, I served them—with a hefty side of self-deprecation and apology. And, of course, the meal was fine,
But when it came time to make dinner the next night. I vowed not to let my skinny green nemesis get the best of me. This time, I wrapped them in prosciutto and grilled them lightly. But, I was a little grill-shy and pull them off at the slightest indication of doneness, so they ended up quite crispy (if we’re being kind). Of course, the now-crispy pork blanket I had wrapped the asparagus in saved me from another egregious cooking error.
So, I tried them ONE more time. Perfection!
Ohhh Sharon, I can relate!!! I was at the broiling stage of the Pioneer Woman’s Thyme Bread (we call it “butter bread” in my house) and 30 seconds under the broiler I open the oven to check and FLAMES! The bread was on fire. In all my years of cooking I’d never unintentionally started anything on fire. It was completely unsalvageable. Actually it went directly onto the porch to reduce the stink in my house. I will make butter bread again…some day…maybe…..
I’ve had more moments like this than I’d like to admit. I’ll never forget having my first dinner party and completely burning these thick cut pork chops, but they were totally uncooked in the middle. I wanted to hurl the pan (and myself) out the window. How embarrassing. But I think you have to go back and conquer those things and then move on. Now I just follow mom’s simple recipe – dredge in flour, salt pepper, saute in a bit of butter and create a pan sauce, it never fails. Plus, I don’t get thick cut pork chops anymore!
Great recipe too, by the way!
I think all cooks have to have a few disaster stories. One of mine was when we had two couples over one evening — one couple we barely knew and the other couple we had not met before. I was trying to make a homemade chocolate sauce but it was getting way too thick — what should I add? Butter? Water? Milk? (ok I was a very new cook!) Hey, I’ll add a little of each! It turned into a Play dough consistency. What to do? I put it in a bowl and we all sat around and make fun chocolate sculptures — ducks, birds, bears. We laughed until we cried. It was a memorable night because we just went with it and had fun.
Andie Reid says
Much too recently for it to be excusable, we had four food people over for dinner. I oversalted the cod AND the rice, so dinner was horrible, then we had to ask our guests to leave right after dessert (the chocolate-filled ebelskivers redeemed dinner somewhat) because Pootie got seriously ill with a stomach bug. The whole dinner party was an unmitigated disaster. Except for the ebelskivers.
Tickled Red says
My favorite snafu was my strawberry goop that was supposed to be a beautiful cheesecake. I should have had no problem with it seeing as how cheesecake is my “thang” so to speak. Oh well tasted divine. I turned it into parfaits for my darlin’ 🙂
Rose in Ohio (@RoseMillsOhio) says
So ashamed to admit how clueless I was, but here goes. As a newlywed, I hoped to impress a slightly older couple that we had invited over to dinner. I was just learning to cook, and didn’t have the sense to start with simple recipes—no, I wanted to show off. But since I was so bogged down in the complicated entree preparation, I decided to do everything I could ahead of time, including dressing the spinach salad hours in advance of the meal. Well, you know how that salad turned out–limp, soggy, black—-novice busted.
This was by no means my first cooking mistake. One of the most embarrassing occurred during a culinary arts class I took in college, but I’ll save that humiliating story for another day!
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
Worst? Oh, so many to choose from… Probably the time I tried to cook a Christmas goose, using the ultra-high heat approach from Barbara Kafka’s “Roasting”. The goose was expensive, messy (I caused a small grease fire in my oven when I didn’t believe how much fat the goose was going to render), noisy (fire alarm from above grease fire), and way, WAY overcooked by the time I thought it was done.
Luckily, we also had ham for everyone to eat.
Ha! I am LOVING reading all these stories. So funny! I have made so many of these same mistakes. Dressing the salad too early, dishes bubbling over in oven and creating smoke, burning chocolate. Tickled Red, aren’t you clever – making that cheesecake into parfait!
Not my mistake but my Mom’s when newly married. My Dad had a friend that was a butcher and he got a gorgous fillet mignon (beef tenderloin) from him. My Mom thought it was a pot roast so she boiled the bejeezus out of it then roasted it LOL Who knew such a tender pc of meat could be turned into shoe leather.