Jenn Giacoppo

Never Fail at a New Recipe – Again!

I absolutely love trying new recipes. You never know what’s going to pop out of the oven, and every successful attempt feels like a tiny victory in my cooking crusades.

I won’t lie to you, though, and say it always goes well. Vivid memories of failed curries and under-done-yet-burned pancakes (how does this happen?!) are reminders that my confidence should never get the best of me.

But there’s gotta be a trick or two to getting this new recipe thing right. And maybe if we all felt a little more empowerd, we’d explore a new dish or flavor and get another win under our belts.

I’m lucky to work at a place that’s absolutely overflowing with food knowledge. So I tapped the talented Show Cooks team over at “The Rachael Ray Show” to get the scoop. Beyond watching the show, which is amazing every day, follow the Show Cooks on Twitter to get behind-the-scenes peeks and great tips, too!

In the meantime, let’s conquer dinner.

1. Read the Whole Recipe, First: Seriously. Do this. Don’t even pick up a knife or start pulling out your spices until you’ve thoroughly read the ingredients and steps needed to make your dish. These 3 minutes are the difference between success and stress, so take ‘em! They’re also important to complete the next two steps…

2. Check Your Equipment: Do you need a rolling pin, a special kind of spatula, or a loaf pan? If you have to flip something out of a skillet, do you have a plate that will work? Confirm you have all of the tools you need for the recipe, and set them out. Also, go a step further by deciding what you’ll serve your meal on, and get that out, too.

3. Do a Freshness Test: As you start to pull your ingredients, take a gander and double-check that they’re still good. As the Cooks put it: “Check to make sure nothing is living in your flour” (we’ve all been there!). If you need it, test your baking soda to make sure it’s still active (add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to a small amount and make sure it bubbles), and make sure that your spices aren’t old and lacking flavor.

Photo: Louisa Shafia

“Mise en place” means you’ll have an easier time cooking something new. Photo: Louisa Shafia

4. Prep Your Ingredients Before You Cook: The practice of mise en place (French for “putting in place”) will save you. By measuring, chopping, dicing, slicing, and generally prepping everything you’ll need ahead of time, you can focus on actually cooking. You’ll be able to get your timing just right, and it also looks really pretty on your countertop!

5. Keep it Conservative: If you’re making something with a lot of spice or heat (in a savory dish), or one that’s very sweet, consider holding back a little. The Show Cooks reminded me that once you’ve added ingredients to a recipe, you can’t take them out. But, you can always add more, later.

Ready to try something new? Here are some fresh ideas from Rachael:

Flatiron Steak Soba
Cacciatore Chicken Thighs with Whole Grain Pasta
Creamed Spinach Fork and Knife Burgers

[Top image of Mixed Mushroom Ragu via Patrick Decker. Here's how to make it!]


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