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Kitchen Tips and Tricks

Rescuing kitchen disasters

Too much salt, split sauce, lumpy sauce or a burnt pan

Everyone makes mistakes in the kitchen at some time or the other; even I do! Over my years as a chef, however, I learned some useful tricks of the trade to turn disaster into success which I’m happy to share with you.

1. How to remove excess salt from your food.

It’s very important to get the seasoning right when you’re cooking. If your dish tastes too salty, one way I use to correct this is to add more of the other ingredients in the dish, so that the ratio of salt to ingredients is reduced.  With soups or stews I drop a peeled raw potato into the dish, continue to cook the dish for 15 minutes and then remove it. The potato will absorb some of the excess salt, leaving the dish less salty.

2. How to remove lumps from sauces.

It’s very simple. Just pass the sauce through a very fine sieve.

3. How to rescue a burnt sauce or stew.

Whatever you do, don’t scrape off the burnt part and mix it in, as the whole dish will taste burnt. Instead, pour the unburnt stew into a new pot and add in a raw potato to absorb the burnt taste. Set it aside for about 15 minutes before removing the potato again. Other techniques used in the kitchen are to add a squeeze of lemon juice; a little sugar; or a splash of sherry or Madeira. Or you could add some tinned tomatoes or tomato purée and a chopped, sautéed onion.

4. How to rescue a burnt pan.

Bicarbonate of soda has many uses in the kitchen. Sprinkle generously over the burnt pan, add enough water to moisten the bicarb and leave to stand overnight, then wash. Simple.

5. What to do if your homemade mayonnaise splits or separates?

Simply take a new egg yolk at room temperature and a dash of water and whisk in a large bowl until the mixture starts to thicken, then gradually whisk back in your split mayonnaise. Have a look at how I make mayonnaise to see how easy it is.

6. How to revive a stale loaf.

Sprinkle it with a little cold water and place it in a hot oven to heat through for 3–5 minutes.

7. How to make a very large joint of meat tasty.

Always cook large joints of meat on the bone. For maximum flavour, make small, deep cuts in the meat and push in the herbs and seasoning. I like to use chopped garlic, rosemary or anchovies.

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