Tuesday, 15 May 2012
When cooking goes wrong
Cooking can be a hit and miss affair. Over the years I've got much better at following recipes, particularly to expand my repertoire and to get a better technical understanding. But you still need to keep pushing boundaries and take the odd risk.
Not long ago I had a misguided experiment with some duck. I roasted the bird and then deglazed the pan with a generous slug of Campari, stirring in redcurrant jelly. To say this didn't work is quite an understatement. My husband who is not the greatest fan of Campari anyway (I love it!) observed all this, grimacing. I thought the aromatic bitterness would make a perfect foil to cut through the rich duck fat. But no, it just tasted bitter. Horribly bitter. And the bitterness seemed to intensify. So much so that I had to replate my food. Sensibly, my husband already had already done this by that point. I even recall blotting my duck with some kitchen roll to remove all traces of the sauce. (Bizarrely, it had tasted fairly balanced and interesting when I sampled it from the pan.)
The subject of when cooking goes wrong was suggested to me by my friend Ginny who lives in Greece who sent in the picture of the burnt loaf. She's a keen cook, very ambitious and (obviously) couldn't wait to try out a wood-fired oven that came as part of her family's new built-in barbecue. It looks like a lovingly prepared loaf and it's almost heartbreaking seeing it like this. However, she tells me that after much hilarity, her sons removed the charred crust and 'scoffed' the rest of the loaf. The flavour must have been fabulous. Not surprisingly, they are now on the look out for a decent oven thermometer – and still keep laughing about it!
Do please let me know if you've had similar experiences. We can learn from each others' mistakes...