9 Rules You Should Always Break When You’re Cooking

It’s OK to break the rules once in a while — even in the kitchen
9 Rules You Should Always Break When You’re Cooking

Get better results when you’re cooking.

When it comes to cooking, many of us have been indoctrinated to believe that recipes are full of hard-and-fast rules and that they must be followed exactly if we want our food to come out perfectly every time. Cooking has so many variables, however, that it is impossible to apply some rules 100 percent of the time. And then, in other cases, some "rules" are just plain wrong and should never be followed. While many cooking rules are flexible (meaning that visual cues, cooking smells, and taste are generally your best indicators of proper cooking and doneness) and should be applied only when they make sense, there are a few rules that should never guide your cooking — that should be thrown out altogether.

Click here for the 9 Rules You Should Always Break When You’re Cooking (Slideshow)

It can be difficult to know which rules are worth following and which can safely be broken. Americans in particular are becoming more interested in cooking and, as a result, they face an excess of cooking tips, advice, and how-tos on television, in print, and online. Unfortunately, one of the results of this flood of cooking information is that we don’t trust ourselves in the kitchen anymore; we have forgotten that much of cooking is just common sense.

Sure, there are certain rules that should be followed when you’re in the kitchen but, if you’re looking inside your cooking pan, for example, and your sauce seems too thick, it probably is — forget what your recipe says about letting it reduce further. Similarly, if you’re roasting vegetables on a sheet pan and you smell smoke, it’s OK to cook the vegetables at a lower temperature until they’re done, regardless of what you’ve read or heard about roasting.

It can be overwhelming at first, but, with a little trial and error, you’ll easily be able to identify which cooking rules work all of the time, which work some of the time, and which ones never yield good results. Curious to know which rules you can definitely forget about? Here are nine cooking rules that we think you should break every single time you cook.

Cook for the Amount of Time the Recipe Specifies

In general, the cook time in a recipe is a suggestion (that’s the  reason it’s usually give in as a range). Start by cooking your food for the shortest amount of time recommended in the recipe and then monitor its progress. If your food reaches the correct internal temperature (or, in the case of a food where temperature isn’t an issue, shows other signs of doneness) it’s done — even if you haven’t reached the minimum cook time.

Don’t Open the Oven Door

We’re not saying it’s OK to continually open the oven door when you’re cooking (you’ll lose heat and lower the oven temperature) — and, all right, you shouldn’t open it at all if you’re making a soufflé — but in all other instances it’s OK to open the oven door once, halfway through a food’s cook time. In fact, you should: Most ovens don’t heat evenly, so your food won’t cook evenly unless the pans are rotated.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

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