Ever had a cooking disaster? Don’t be shy about admitting disasters – it’s all in how you recover from them. Ever heard about the time Julia Child dropped a potato pancake on TV? (Maybe you heard the apocryphal version and thought the story involved a turkey? It was only a potato pancake and it didn’t land on the floor, but I still love the image.)
Lets talk about how to salvage an almost disaster and enjoy the result. If your first reaction is to throw it all in the trash and go out, think again. You may have other options.
The first two questions to ask after you realize that a disaster is in the making determine whether you can move to plan B.
- Did the food spoil in any way that would make it unsafe to eat? If you left the mayonnaise-based potato salad on the counter for two days, don’t even think about saving it. The dish is so bacteria-laden at this point, it’s only good for weighing down your trash can. Believe it or not, Uncle Sam has a food safety web site that is a great place to start when you’re deciding whether to keep a dish or a particular food.
- Did the disaster so ruin the taste of the ingredients that anything you make with them will only make you and your guests grimace? If the dish tastes so bad you would not even serve it to your worst enemy, then let it go. But if it isn’t spoiled and just looks rather questionable, it may be time to put your ingenuity to work.
Here are a couple of alternative scenarios to the old heave ho that won’t get you in trouble with either food-safety or the taste police:
- If you burn rice, scrape out the rice that wasn’t burned – all except the bottom of the pan – and make fried rice.
- If you overcook a hamburger, chop it up and use it as a base for chili.
- If you steam veggies too long and they go limp, then add them to a soup – either a vegetable broth or chicken soup like the kind sold in boxes - maybe with a cooked rice or noodles.
And remember, if you have questions about whether you can, or should, try to save your dish, I’m here to help.