Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and lower the heat on your stove once in a while, you might have burnt food. That’s what Ferris Bueller said, right? If he was cooking an expensive steak, soft-scrambled eggs, or crispy-skinned chicken thighs, it’s solid advice. The thing is, too often do we—home cooks in a hurry—rush to get dinner on the table. We crank up the heat on the stove, because it just makes sense: faster, hotter pans make faster, hotter food. Right? Well…no. Here are some things you need to stop cooking too fast, and when you do, you’ll see an immediate difference in texture, flavor, and maybe even a sense of calm in the world. Maybe.
Cooking caramalized onions to golden brown perfection is a labor of love. Go low and slow, stir frequently, and reward yourself with onion dip, a killer patty melt, or cheeeesy French obion soup. It’s not going to be ready in 15 minutes. It might even be closer to 40, 45, depending on what you’re making. Take your time. Clean out the fridge in between stirs. You’ll be greatly rewarded.
Ideal cheese meltiness doesn’t happen quickly. Even with American cheese, you won’t get a perfect cheese pull after two minutes on high heat—you’ll have a block of cheese and super burnt bread. Lower your heat and let the butter—or garlic butter!!!!—work its magic.
Scramble eggs always cook quickly, so there’s a twofold approach to making sure they aren’t rubbery: keep it over medium-low heat and pull them off the heat before they look completely done. You should think: “Nah, they’re not done.” That’s the moment to take them off ASAP! Sounds crazy but I’m serious. The result is custardy, soft, creamy eggs. You may not get it right the first time, but keep practicing and tasting and you’ll be a scrambled-egg master soon enough.
When searing off a thicker steak (1 to 1 ½”-thick) or pork chop, you don’t want to blast it with high heat, or it may blacken and burn before the inside warms through. Even in the case of medium-rare steak, cook it over a medium flame so it can render some fat, crisp on both sides, and cook through evenly. If you use a sweet marinade—like Vietnamese pork chops or Hillstone’s famous Hawaiian steak—it’ll caramelize even faster, so be extra cautious. The same goes for grilling, but you’ll likely see flare-ups and control your heat better than you would in a cast-iron skillet.
Fun fact: the more sausage links you cook at once, the less likely they are to burn. If they’re closer together, they’ll steam and brown at the same time, and therefore will cook all the way through instead of being caramelized on the outside and raw pork on the inside. Use a medium heat, turn often, and be patient. It’s going to take close to 10 minutes. You can also cook sausage links in the oven, if you want to go more hands-off. Enjoy.
Article credit: Bon Appétit
Photo credit: Josephine Schiele, Ali Nardi