Skipping a step


Recipe instructions run the gamut from sparse to confusing to insanely detailed. But no matter how specific the instructions, there are seven steps that Tommy Werner at Epicurious always skips. These instructions either waste time or actually do more harm than good. Washing chicken falls into the latter camp. While it may remove bacteria from the skin, it can also splash those same bacteria all over your sink and counter top, so it’s best to just skip that step entirely.

Several of the steps that Werner doesn’t bother with involve peeling various foods. Ginger generally doesn’t need to be peeled if you are grating it or making a paste from it. The thin skin won’t be noticeable in these applications. If you are using a garlic press (whether a press is good or bad is a discussion saved for another day), you don’t need to peel garlic, either.

Sifting flour is another mostly unnecessary task. You can usually just use a whisk to blend dry ingredients and remove any lumps. Werner saves the sifting for special applications like making angel food cake, “where properly sifted flour can guarantee a light, springy texture.”

One thing that I often forego is a complete mise en place. Professionally-trained chef and popular TV cooking show host Sara Moulton backs me up on this, noting that in the home kitchen, fully completing all prep in advance can cost a lot of precious time. What recipe steps do you usually skip?

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  • veronicafrance  on  July 22, 2016

    I agree about the mise en place (other than for stir-fries where you do need everything prepared before you start). My approach is exactly like Sara's — I read the recipe through first and work out where I can do prep while something else is happening, e.g. chop onions while the kettle's boiling, prepare garnishes while the dish is simmering. I don't generally do massively complicated recipes where mise en place would be necessary. Oh, and I'm glad it's not just me that doesn't peel ginger when I'm grating it ๐Ÿ™‚

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