What to do When you Accidentally Overcook Food
There’s nothing worse than accidentally overcooking your meal. You must be thinking “It’s Overcooked. Now What?” Like the saying, you can’t un-ring a bell, you cannot un-cook food. However, there are a few things that you can do to lessen the disappointment of an overdone meal. Keep reading to learn what you can do to save an overcooked meal.
The Science of Overcooking Food
What is overcooked? Overcooked meat is dry and tasteless, even if it’s been well seasoned. Overcooked vegetables are mushy or dry, sometimes both at the same time! What’s happened, is the cell structures of the vegetables have been damaged creating mushiness and the liquid inside may have been released to cause dryness. For meat, all of the fat and liquid have been rendered out of your meal. The muscle fibers – tube-like structures that hold the water inside the meat - have contracted, wringing all of the water out and creating a tough and dry husk of what you were trying to prepare. Fat renders down, melting and dripping away to be consumed by the flames of your barbecue or to sit in the pan. Neither of these things can be put back into the food.
Overcooked food is harder to metabolize and digest than food that has been properly prepared. Nutrients, especially in vegetables, are also lost in the cooking process. The trick is to cook everything in the best possible manner to achieve the right balance between providing optimum nutrients and winding up with a palatable meal.
The Best Defense is a Good Meat Thermometer
How do you prevent overcooking? A good meat thermometer will go a long way to ensuring that your food never gets to the point of being overcooked. High-tech ones, like our Bluetooth Thermometer, will connect to your smartphone and help you keep track of your cook. Don’t let your fear of undercooking ensure that your meals are overcooked instead.
What to do With Overcooked Food
When food is overcooked and you have no backup plan, there are still ways to use the food, even if it’s not in the best condition.
Avoid putting overcooked meat into a soup. While this sounds like a good idea, it really isn’t. Soup will provide the missing liquid portion of the magic fat-liquid-protein triad, however, you’ll be missing the fat, that has been rendered out before this.
If you overcook a steak, consider impromptu fajitas by slicing thin against the grain. Serve with toppings and sauces. If you aren’t feeling fajitas, mix up a quick cowboy butter or some other compound butter and use it as a dipping sauce or melt it over the finished steak. You can also chop it into bite-sized morsels tor fried rice or stir-fries. This is also a good strategy for larger cuts too.
For larger cuts like roasts, if you aren’t stir-frying them, try placing it into a pot or slow cooker and half covering the overdone roast with stock and simmering until warm. You can also shred the meat for pulled beef, just add sauce, a bun, and toppings.
Another suggestion would be to puree the meat with a little fat. like butter or pork fat or tallow, season it appropriately for potstickers, empanadas or use it as a filling for ravioli and tortellini.
Try this recipe for Ribeye Steaks over Charcoal
There is really no saving that burger if it gets overcooked, but you can disguise it with a buttered and fried bun, lots of condiment options, and your favorite toppings, including onions, tomatoes, fresh and crisp lettuce, and cheese.
Try this recipe for delicious Double Decker Brisket Burgers
One of the meats that are frequently overcooked due to the fear of undercooking, overcooked pork is best when heavily sauced, diced, and used in stir-fries, shredded and sauced, or ground up with ginger, garlic, and scallions for a delightful potsticker filling.
Don’t overcook your pork again, try this recipe for Honey Mustard BBQ Pork
Another that is often overcooked out of mistrust, overdone chicken will be dry and almost tacky when chewed. To combat this, you can use gravy or sauce. Try shredding chicken and adding BBQ sauce to make a pulled chicken sandwich. Thinly sliced chicken can be revived with butter and chicken stock mixture brushed on. Also, try chopping or shredding it and using the overcooked chicken in a salad. Adding it to pasta or fried rice and stir fry are all great choices as well. If you’ve made grilled vegetables to accompany your chicken, chop everything into bite-sized pieces and add a zesty dressing for a hot grilled salad.
Whether the chicken is overcooked or not, these Stuffed Baked Potatoes are mighty delicious!
Seafood, especially shellfish, gets tough when overcooked. Shrimp, scallops and the like are revived a little if you simmer them in a mixture of butter and lemon juice. Salmon and hearty fish like that will be alright if you add a creamy sauce or brush with butter.
This Maple Whisky Salmon won’t disappoint.
Did you know that you can overcook potatoes? Depending on the potato used, you will get different results. Potatoes heavy in starch, like Russet and Baking potatoes, will get dry and crumbly if you overcook them but will be fine if you just mash them. Waxy potatoes, like Fingerlings, can be rescued by tossing them gently with oil and roasting them. Yukon Gold, White, and Red are somewhere between the two types and pretty resilient. If you overcook them for roasting – give them a toss and they disintegrate – just mash them, they’ll be fine.
Try these Roasted Potatoes for some luxurious potatoes
If you had to mash them, don’t worry. Try Plank Roasted Mashed Potatoes instead
You overcooked your veggies. They have gone to mush. If this is the case, add some stock and cream, blend them and turn your vegetables into a delightful soup. Not what you had in mind for dinner but a great way to reduce waste. You can mash your overdone veg, mix them with mashed potatoes and a little starch, roll into balls and fry them. If the veggies are a little limp but not too far gone, try dunking them into a bath of ice water. This could retrieve them from the brink of overdone too.
You won’t ever serve your carrots another way after trying these Maple Dijon Carrots on the BBQ
Don't Try to Save
Whatever you do, don’t try to save burnt garlic, nuts, spices, and oils. They should not be salvaged or used further because they go bitter and will make poor ingredients in your finished meal.
What have you overcooked to the point of no return? How did you save the day when your meal seemed lost? Tell us about your barbecue disasters and how you saved the day on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #NapoleonMoment.