According to an old axiom, a watched pot never boils. But an unwatched one will scorch every time! Most of us have had to deal with a scorched pan at one time or another. It's easy to get distracted by the telephone or a child who needs immediate attention. Or maybe we just didn't stir often enough or neglected to adjust the flame.
Suddenly, when we become aware that the fragrant aroma of food cooking has morphed into a burnt odor, we rush to raise the lid, and sure enough, dinner is charred. What now? That is the question that was recently posed along with another one related to burnt pans.
I don't seem to be able to boil potatoes for mashing without them sticking to the bottom of the pan and scorching. I don't have time to throw them out and start over, but if I go ahead and use them, they taste burnt. Do I need to stir them more often?
Usually, stirring is not necessary. Cook potatoes in a heavy pan because light-weight pans may have hot spots and scorch easily. Water should cover the potatoes by about one inch; too much water will cause a loss of water-soluble vitamins.
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Once the potatoes come to a boil, reduce the heat so they are just barely boiling, cover and cook them until they are tender.
However, if scorching occurs, quickly turn off the burner. Do not stir — that will only mix the scorched particles into the food. Dump the nonburnt contents into another pan, leaving all the scorched parts in the original pot. Dinner is salvaged and will not taste burnt.
Do you have a trick or an easy way to clean pans that have burnt? Also, when I use my slow cooker, sometimes food burns along the edges and it is hard to get off. Is there an easier way than scrubbing it?
Put three tablespoons of dishwasher detergent in the pan; add hot water and stir until dissolved. Leave it 30 minutes or longer. The burnt particles will have loosened and will be easy to remove. Do not use this method on nonstick pans. For burnt-on food in a ceramic or Crock-Pot insert, let it cool first, then proceed with the treatment. If the hot insert is placed in a cold sink and water is added, it is likely to crack.
I made a recipe for bean soup and was asked to pick over the beans. What is that about? Is it necessary?
Dried beans are processed through a machine that sorts the beans from other debris. Sometimes small pebbles or clumps of dirt will fall through the screening process. These foreign objects need to be removed. To pick over beans, spread them on a counter and visually inspect them, removing any small stones, clumps of dirt or damaged beans. Then rinse, drain and proceed with your recipe.