Here are eight things that you need to slow down and enjoy the process.
Cooking caramelized onions to golden brown perfection is a labor of love. Go low and slow, stir frequently, and reward yourself with onion dip or on top a wonderful hamburger. It’s not going to be ready in 15 minutes. It might even be closer to 40, 45, depending on what you’re making. Take your time. Clean out the fridge in between stirs. You’ll be greatly rewarded.
The ideal degree of melted cheese doesn’t happen quickly. Even with American cheese, you won’t get a perfect cheese pull after two minutes on high heat you’ll have a block of cheese and super burnt bread. Lower your heat and let the butter or garlic butter work its magic. I do mine in a Panini pan and it always turns out perfectly.
Scrambled eggs always cook quickly, but there’s a twofold approach to making sure they are not rubbery: keep it over medium-low heat and pull them off the heat before they look completely done. You should think: “Nah, they’re not done.” That’s the moment to take them off ASAP! Sounds crazy but we’re serious. The result is custardy, soft, creamy eggs. You may not get it right the first time, but keep practicing and tasting and you’ll be a scrambled-egg master soon enough.
Whether you’re making basil pesto or cookies with nuts, toasted nuts are the garnish and crunch that make it taste heavenly.. If you toast them in a hot skillet, they can burn quickly so you need to use a medium to medium-low heat and stir constantly so you don’t get uneven browning. A more foolproof option is to toast in a 350° oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Larger pieces like pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews may take a little longer about 10 minutes and add time if you store your nuts in the freezer.
Steak and Pork Chops
When searing off a thicker steak (1 to 1 ½”-thick) or pork chop, you don’t want to blast it with high heat, or it may blacken and burn before the inside warms through. Even in the case of medium-rare steak, cook it over a medium flame so it can render some fat, crisp on both sides, and cook through evenly. If you use a sweet marinade it’ll caramelize even faster, so be extra cautious. The same goes for grilling, but you’ll likely see flare-ups and control your heat better than you would in a cast-iron skillet.
Crispy-Skinned Chicken or Duck
To achieve super-crispy chicken skin, especially pan-roasted thighs or duck, you need to let the fat underneath render out slowly. If you try to crank the heat and crisp them faster, you’ll get rubbery fat and burnt skin that seizes up. Tragic! It will take about 15 minutes to properly render the fat in chicken thighs or duck breasts. They don’t require too much cooking time after the skin is crispy.
Fun fact: the more sausage links you cook at once, the less likely they are to burn. If they’re closer together, they’ll steam and brown at the same time and will cook all the way through instead of being caramelized on the outside and raw pork on the inside. Use a medium heat, turn often, and be patient. It’s going to take close to 10 minutes. You can cook sausage in the oven if you want to go more hands-off.
Like with chicken skin, you want to render it slowly so it can get crispy without burning, and it perfumes your entire house after Sunday pancake brunch. You won’t need to buy a candle again.