Anyone who has tried their hand at cooking has a story or two to tell about their worst failures. Some mistakes were dangerous, some were completely innocent, but in almost every case, the resulting creation was inedible, and the only thing we had left was a funny story to tell our friends around the campfire.
No matter how much we master the kitchen, those funny memories will always put us in our place and remind us of our silly rookie mistakes. I distinctly remember two of my own amusing incidents, and thought I’d share them with you today. If you have your own kitchen disaster stories, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
In general, pizza is something I don’t go near because I can never seem to get the dough quite right. It always comes out too thick and we end up with charcoal toppings, while the center of the pizza is still raw.
Therefore, when the appetite for pizza strikes, I’ll most often pick up a ready-to-bake pie at the supermarket and bring it home to be cooked fresh. That’s exactly what I did one summer night about 10 years ago, one of my first pizza-at-home experiences.
Not familiar with the typical packaging of DYI pizzas, I removed the pie from its container and slid it into my hot oven for the required 15 minutes, rubbing my hands together with excitement. Once the timer rang, we removed the pizza, slid it on a serving plate, and began to cut into it with my pizza slicer.
To my surprise, I hit something firm at the bottom—in my excitement, I didn’t realize the pizza was sitting on a cardboard backing within its larger wrapping. Because the cardboard slowed down the transfer of heat from the oven, the entire bottom of my pizza was left uncooked.
There way no way to salvage the meal, and we had salad for dinner that night…
One of my favorite ways to prepare steak is using the broiler. We live in an apartment, so grilling anything is not only challenging, but mostly illegal (with the exception of an electric grill). With a little practice, broiling can create a perfectly cooked steak with minimal effort.
As anyone who has ever broiled stuff knows, a big enemy of food in the broiler is the danger of getting burnt without being fully cooked. You end up with crispy food that’s inedible. There are two strategies that work well to combat this, depending on what food you’re cooking:
- Coating the food with oil to aid the browning process while giving it a protective shield.
- Using a piece of aluminum foil to reflect direct heat during the initial cooking stage.
As a novice, I thought I could use the oil trick with my steak. I coated my meat with a healthy serving of olive oil and put it about two inches from the broiler coils. Therein lies my mistake.
Now, I will preface what happens next with the fact that I always keep a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of a fire, and I recommend you do the same.
If you’ve ever seen how oil reacts when it falls on a hot stovetop, you can imagine what happened in the oven. As the oil got hot, it began to sizzle and “jump” onto the scolding hot heating elements, generating sparks, then a small fire, and then a ton of black, billowing smoke.
I grabbed the extinguisher, turned off the oven, closed the door, and hoped for the best. Thankfully, I didn’t have to use my firefighting skills. As soon as the heating element began cooling, the oil stopped reacting and the fire dissipated.
That was the last time I was careless with oil in the oven, and also the last time I’ve set something on fire in the kitchen.
We ate salad for dinner than night, too!
Thanks for letting me share my stories with you. How about you–what’s your worst kitchen disaster?
Photo by geishaboy500