So, you’ve just finished putting together that yummy casserole, delicious stew, or other dish and then got either got distracted doing other things, or forgot to check on the oven or stove top temperature, or forgot to stir frequently as the recipe recommended, and now you have an overcooked burnt dish. Now what? Well, don’t despair just yet. There are steps you can take to save burnt food and still come out with an edible dish.
Step 1: Ok, step 1 is the obvious, turn off the heat source and immediately remove the food from the heat source (oven, stove top, toaster oven, slow cooker).
Step 2: Immediately transfer the unburned portions of the food into a clean pot, pan or other container. Whatever burnt pieces of food are sticking to the bottom of the original cooking container, leave for now. This will save as much of the dish as possible, whenever possible.
Step 3: Immediately fill the cooking container with the leftover burnt food remnants with HOT water and EITHER a generous sprinkling of coarse salt or some baking soda. The hot water will help expand, soften and loosen the burnt food that is stuck to the dish, while the salt and baking soda will help to breakup the food to help make cleanup of the pot, pan or other cooking vessel easier later.
Step 4: If the rescued food is dried out, add in a bit of water or vegetable broth to rehydrate ingredients. This will also help to reduce any burnt flavor.
Step 5: Lastly, re-taste and re-season your dish to camouflage any lingering burnt or overcooked flavors that might remain. Keep in mind, your dish will probably not taste as fabulous as it would have had it not been burnt, BUT, there is always a reasonable chance that you can rescue it to a degree where it is still quite edible and even enjoyable.
If you’ve done steps 1-5 above and your dish is still not saveable, or if it was close to catching fire and looks more like a burnt shoe than any resemblance of food, than just let it go. Kitchen mishaps happen. Discard the burnt food safely, try to rescue your cooking vessel if possible, and go prepare yourself a raw food dinner instead for the evening. Keep your sense of humor and learn to adapt. And smile, you just learned a great lesson on what NOT to do in the kitchen.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina “The Veggie Goddess” Matthews