Working in a professional kitchen is all about keeping a cool head when things go wrong. Chefs will inevitably be faced with burnt edges, sunken middles and undercooked ingredients. But what’s the best way to rescue them… and what’s the golden rule of troubleshooting?
Tom Kerridge has spent his whole adult life in professional kitchens – that’s a fair few service periods. But nobody is infallible – sometimes no matter how well-practiced you are, or however many times you’ve studied the recipe, a kitchen curse intervenes to cast a nasty spell over your finished dish. But how can you come to the rescue of a beleaguered dish? And is everything worth rescuing? We asked Tom Kerridge to impart his chef expertise.
Tom Kerridge’s four quick saves for when disaster strikes
1. Can I do it again?
Firstly, and crucially, work out whether the dish can be saved or whether it needs to be thrown away. If it can be salvaged, work out how to fix it, otherwise start again from scratch if you’ve got the ingredients and time… or just throw it out completely. This is the most important part – learning to identify whether something can be rescued.
2. Season, season, season
A good sprinkle of sea salt, twist of cracked black pepper and a knob of butter can save a lot of dishes. If something doesn’t look too great, it can be remedied by just ramping up the taste to make up for it.
3. Beware baking disasters
Remember that some things just can’t be saved. Pastry for instance – once it's ruined there’s no going back. If the structure has collapsed there’s not much you can do.
4. Overcooked vegetables
If you overcook vegetables such as carrots or parsnips, puree them or turn them into a soup or mash. Don’t throw them away just because they’re not al dente.
Read more from the 'learn to cook with Tom Kerridge' series.
Are you often faced with a cooking disaster? How do you tackle it?