Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

No matter how skilled you are in the kitchen, chances are there are probably a few ingredients you struggle with or recipes that you just can’t seem to get right. So, redditor u/g-e-o-f-f asked, “What is a yummy food that can be completely ruined by a small mistake?” Here’s what people said.

1. “Caramel. You can have a nice smooth sauce one moment, but once a water droplet hits it or you let it go 15 seconds too long, you suddenly have cement at the bottom of your pan.”

2. “Carbonara. If you don’t take it off the heat at the proper moment, your end result is scrambled eggs.”

3. “Sautéed garlic. There is a very fine line between browned and burnt garlic.”

4. “Most deep-fried foods. If they don’t have a chance to cool on a wire rack, the bottom gets all soggy, and they lose any desired crispiness.”

5. “Cookies. There is a very short window of time while baking for perfect cookies; otherwise, they quickly go from too wet and crumbly to too dry and hard.”

6. “Vegetables in general. Undercook them and the texture is off. Overcook them and they taste either mush or burnt.”

7. “Homemade pasta. I love buying fresh pasta, but I find that there’s a much larger margin for error cooking fresh pasta than boxed stuff. It cooks so quickly that you really have to be careful to catch it while it’s still in the al dente phase before it quickly becomes too mushy.”

8. “Soufflé or Yorkshire pudding. Open the oven door too early and the whole thing collapses onto itself.”

9. “Calamari. Good calamari is awesome. Bad calamari, on the other hand, is like chewing rubber bands.”

10. “Pan seared scallops. There’s nothing like scallops that are crispy on the outside and just-cooked on the inside, but leave them in the pan for one minute too long and they quickly become rubbery.”

11. “Mashed potatoes. Beware of over-whipping your potatoes so they don’t turn into gummy paste.”

12. “Eggs, generally speaking. Whether sunny-side up egg, fluffy, scrambled eggs, or a properly cooked omelet. These are easy things to mess up and make unpleasant. For example, no one wants a wet, mushy scramble or an over-cooked brown omelet that is still raw on the inside.”

13. “Homemade mozzarella sticks. If you don’t flash freeze your breaded mozzarella before frying it, you’ve got a problem. I once had a mozzarella loaf glued to my frying basket.”

14. “Homemade potato gnocchi. Getting this dish perfect is always a challenge. It takes a lot of practice, and even when you think you’ve got it down to a science, sometimes, the potatoes just have other plans for you.”

15. “Fish. It can overcook in an instant if you don’t know what you’re doing. Keeping track of the doneness of your fish while preparing other components of the meal is especially stressful.”

16. “Bacon. I’m a pretty good cook, but I cannot get bacon right on the stove. The whole strip just never comes out consistently. Part of it is always lame and flabby when other parts are too burnt. I’ve tried flipping it just once and flipping it several times, cooking it over low and high heat, making it in cast iron and a non-stick skillet. I’ve tried it all. Now, I just make bacon in the oven, which consistently comes out great and is much less messy. But it’s infuriating that I can’t get it right on the stovetop.”

17. “Chocolate is tricky. If you are melting it for ganache or for molding, a drop or two of water and you get this weird crumbly stuff that is useless to use for anything.”

18. “Homemade roux. I have tried all the methods, but my roux has lumps every time. I’m pretty good with the flavor, but I just can’t seem to get the texture down.”

19. “Chicken breasts. When it’s properly cooked, it can be really juicy, tender, and flavorful. But chicken breast is so easy to overcook and turn into a chewy, stringy, dry, and disappointing dish. As a result, chicken breast gets a lot of hate. Many people just dislike it thinking this is how it always tastes.”

20. “Quiche. It’s always too eggy and not custard-y enough, regardless of how many eggs or how much cream I use.

21. “Shrimp. It seems like almost instantaneously it can transform from delicate, pink little bites to something the texture of pencil eraser.”

22. “French macarons. Either they’re over-mixed, under-mixed, not sifted well enough, over-baked, underbaked, or they didn’t sit long enough before baking. Even if you follow all the rules, but just happen to breathe on them the wrong way, they seem to come out wrong.”

23. “Popcorn. One burnt piece and the whole bowl tastes burnt…and your whole house reeks forever.”

24. “Anything that calls for cornstarch. It takes a while to notice if you used too much, and by then, it’s often too late. My perfectly good beef stew turned into a coagulated mess that was inedible thanks to cornstarch.”

25. “Rice. I’ve been cooking professionally for a decade, and I can’t make a pot of rice to save my life.”

26. “Any savory dish that requires nutmeg. The difference between a meal that tastes perfect and one that tastes like eggnog is minuscule.”

27. “Croissants from scratch. What is the point? It never comes out right, and it takes forever!”

What is a tricky ingredient to cook right or temperamental dish that is all too easy to mess up? Tell us in the comments!

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