Throwing out food due to screwed up dish

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by nrgxlr8tr, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. nrgxlr8tr

    nrgxlr8tr

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    Hello. Minimal cooking experience here.

    Anyways, I've been experimenting around lately, and let's just say that sometimes the dish does not turn out the way I expected it to be. For example, I've been mashing some mashed potatoes and I think I've added too much milk. You can see potato "fragments" sort of like fine glass inside and it tastes mediocre, or as Ramsay would say, "bland." Very bland actually. There is minimal flavor and what flavor there is tastes like potato.

    Which leads me to throwing the dish out because I really don't want to eat it, and I've made quite a hefty sum of the bad dish- and I feel quite guilty for throwing out 2 fine potatoes.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. I'm not asking emotional consolation, just asking whether or not any of you guys had done this, overestimating your cooking talent at an early stage of cooking experience.
     
  2. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    We all have to start somewhere. I started off with lots of mistakes and then with a little patience, some good advice and a willingness to try again I learned how to make all the dishes better. I am still extremely critical of myself and I don't hesitate to throw out something if it cannot be salvaged.

    Mashed potatoes can be salvaged. mashed potatoes that taste like potato is not a bad thing.
     
  3. nrgxlr8tr

    nrgxlr8tr

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    Thank you for your reply.

    I always hesitate to throw food out because when I was small my mom always told me that foods have feelings and that if I threw them out they would be sad. That stuck with me throughout my entire life and now when I cook I always try not to screw up. I probably need to stop getting emotionally attached to my food!

    Anyways, thanks and now some of my guilt has been relieved.

    Cheers
     
  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    There are many really good threads on this site detailing the many varieties of potatos with the best use for each.
    Use the search option and all will be reviewed.
    My main tip would be not prepping the mashers into small cubes as they will end up waterlogged and be bland and runnyish.

    Welcome to Chef Talk!

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  5. ordo

    ordo

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    That's a sweet pantheism.
     
  6. samcanchef

    samcanchef

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    Something that I try to practice as often as possible, at home and at work, is to plan my menu in a sequence from whole ingredients to recycled ingredients. In the case of mashed potatoes, even if the potatoes can't be salvaged as a mash, I'll bet you could make a delightful soup with them. Anytime I am using an item that will need to be prepared ahead in any kind of quantity, I always have a plan for what to do with anything that is left over. Day old meatballs make great lasagna filling. Blanch too many green beans? Time for a composed salad.
     
  7. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    "Bland" is an condition that is correctable, as are many other kitchen mistakes. Unless something is either burnt, uncorrectable, or for some other reason completely disgusting, I eat most of my mistakes. Either eat as is and learn from the experience or transform it into something else.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  8. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    AGREED!

    The only time I throw food out is if it's spoiled, otherwise I eat it with a BIG glass of water.

    It's food, if it's "bland" maybe try some salt and pepper, some sort of spice or herb, or a condiment

    ,,, isn't that why ketchup was invented?
     
  9. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I cook food as my chosen career. Early in my career I had a wise mentor who told me not to worry about mistakes, he told me i wouldn't be a chef until I had made at least 5000 mistakes. Don't think of them as mistakes. Think of them as learning experiences.

    Many times doing something incorrectly provides more learning than doing it correctly. If something turns out great, the congratulating and patting on the back begins, after all what did I expect other than perfection /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif. The learning is over. We don't really think about it. Doing it incorrectly gives us opportunity to really explore the why and how of what works and what doesn't. The learning expands because we really think about the process.

    Taking less than stellar dishes and turning them into something else or elevating them is where the real talent begins.

    Bland mashed potatoes, no problem. Mix them with egg, sour cream, bacon, green onion, cheddar cheese, salt and black pepper. Put them in buttered cupcake/muffin pans and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. Oh yeah /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    @cheflayne I agree with you. However not many people care enough about learning how to fix food. It is time consuming and the reward is always a sink full of dishes. I thrive in the kitchen and do look for every opportunity to learn from my mistakes but I honestly don't know many people like that. Most people are like "my attempt at mashed potatoes didn't turn out well so screw that, I'm getting take out or using the boxed stuff". Do you know how long it has taken me to learn how to make good mashed potatoes? Do you know how much equipment I have bought JUST for potatoes alone? (Peelers, ricers, mashers, that thing that turns by hand and takes up so much space). Do you know how many recipes and methods I have experimented with and how many types of potatoes I have attempted to mix into the perfect concoction? I can't tell you what I've been through with mashed potatoes alone. And still, I accept that I will never be able to make a pomme purée that tastes as good as the one at Tom Colicchios restaurants.

    I'll keep at it of course but an average person who just wants to cook a little something here and there will not bother with this torture nor are they interested enough to learn from their mistakes.
     
  11. nrgxlr8tr

    nrgxlr8tr

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    Thank you all for your replies. I'm getting a lot of mixed opinions here. I agree with kaneohegirlinaz; I should probably eat it with lots of water and cook on an empty stomach.

    I'm not dedicating my life to cooking, however it is something that I should and want to be good at.

    I appreciate all of your responses and I will definitely remember them the next time I cook!
     
  12. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Well Chef?? 

    So how many do you have to date?? 

    I mean after such a wise statement by your mentor, surely you have kept close track all these years!?? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
    Well for mashed, it  sounds like you're using Russets. Which are pretty well known for their blandness. I believe you quoted Chef Ramsey

    earlier; well I have heard him time and time again complaining about his students' "bland" mashed potatoes. They need 2 things to be servable

    in both his and my opinion-- salt, and some sort of fat, like butter, decent margarine....SOMEthing. The milk helps make them creamy, but 

    doesn't do much for the flavor. 
     
  13. nrgxlr8tr

    nrgxlr8tr

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    I got then a few weeks ago... they were baking potatoes I think. It had a lot of liquid content (too much milk) and very little butter. I suppose the problem was that I just didn't boil them enough in the pot and/or didn't add enough salt.

    Yes, I always quote Ramsay. A memorable one was "this looks like a bison's male part!"
     
  14. chrysfox

    chrysfox

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    Oh yeah.  I've had some really memorable 'screw-ups' while experimenting.  I've tossed them.  The curry-cheese biscuits, where I used 2 tablespoons curry powder instead of 2 teaspoons, the 'diet' lasagna, the porkchops in Dr.Pepper...
     

    But that was then.  Now I'm attempting to fix mistakes, either by trying to repair it back to what it ought to be, or taking a long look, and deciding that maybe it should have been a ___ in the first place, and rebuilding it into something completely different.

    Potatoes are extremely forgiving, and can be turned into quite a few things.  So is bland. Just add whatever you think it needs, and if it isn't coming out like the original concept, call it something else /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif  
    No, it's not 'mashed potatoes - but a 'potato, bacon and swiss gratin' or a 'creamy potato vegetable soup'.  As long as you can learn from it, it's not (usually) a disaster.

    I'm not a professional, but I like to think that instead of just being the person who cooks dinner, I'm my family's personal chef. 
    I enjoy learning, and cooking is an ongoing process of learning. Mistakes happen - so does '... ick, this just tastes wrong.'  Sometimes it can't be salvaged - or shouldn't be
    Remember what you did - or didn't do.  I have a notebook, and from time to time, I'll write down what I'm doing, and then add notes about how it came out.

    [ my mom kept a box of instant potato on hand, but only used it to fix runny potatoes, or make a quick cup or so for potato rolls.  But she would have thrown up her hands in horror at the idea of serving instant as the 'real thing'. ]
     
     
  15. dreamshards8

    dreamshards8

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    Haha, o god. This reminded me of the time I thought I screwed up a large batch of chocolate tortes. I threw them out and my boss was pissed and assured me they weren't messed up. I felt like such an idiot.
    Going back to my very early stages I was cooking potato soup. I cooked a seperate roux to thicken it and burned the bottom. Against my better judgment I poured it into the soup. The whole soup tasted burnt and I had to throw it out.

    Needless to say, I have only thrown out food that tasted spoiled, burned, or a baking project that went wrong. If something tastes bland it can usually be salvaged. That's when you start learning though, when you start messing up.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  16. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Are we talking mashed potatos or whipped potatos?
    Big difference.
    I was raised up on the thicker ( but not gummy....stop before you get to gummy!) mashed cooked just to the edge of tender.
    Had to keep an eye on the water because if it started showing signs of over cooking ( cloudy water is dead giveaway) a rescue would be impossible.
    Found it helps to start with slightly cool russets and cut in larger chunks.
    Drain well then back into the pot over low heat to dry out a bit more.
    A generous amt of butter along with a splash of evaporated milk plus S and P and mix with the hand held KA on a low setting.
    Just until it comes together
    Perfect with open faced roast beef sandwiches with a ton of brown gravy.

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  17. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    We've all been there.  Made a dish that doesn't meet our expectations or is just plain screwed up.  It happens, and as you can see by the numerous responses, just being a professional chef does not make one immune.  The goal is to learn from your mistakes-figure out what went wrong and how to avoid that problem the next time.  That's my general response to the OP.  To get a little more specific with the mashed potato issue, below is my guide to making the best mashed potatoes (comments, contradictions, etc. welcomed).

    Pete's Guide to the Best Mashed Potatoes

    -First off, I admit, I use Russets (Idahos).  I know that many people out there prefer Yukons, but I like Russets.

    -Peel and chop into 3/4 inch chunks and place in heavily salted, room temperature water.

    -Bring to a boil and reduce to a hard simmer/slow boil and cook just until the potatoes are tender.

    -Drain in a wide colander  and allow the steam to come off the potatoes for about 3-5 minutes (the more moisture you allow to escape the more fats, in the form of butter and cream you can add)

    -Using a heavy whisk or potato masher mash the potatoes until no chunks remain (as you as you don't add any dairy at this point you'll be surprised how long you can mash them without them turning gummy)

    -Season with salt and pepper (use white pepper if black specks bother you-personally I prefer the taste of black pepper so that is what I use)

    -Add butter, softened but not melted. (I probably use about 4 tablespoons per pound of potatoes-this is what makes them so rich)

    -Heat either half and half or heavy cream and add just enough to get to the consistency you like (forget milk, and definitely never use reduced fat milks if you want great mashed potatoes)

    -Once you add the butter stir as little as possible to avoid gummy potatoes
     
  18. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    What do you do with your leftover mashed potatoes @Pete  ?

    KFC had a bowl dish (no longer on menu) with layered potatoes, corn, gravy, grated cheese and fried "popcorn" chicken.

    I was totally addicted and usually make extra mash for my own version.

    mimi
     
  19. rpooley

    rpooley

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    I follow Julia Child's motto of "you can always do something".  With mediocre mashed potatoes, I would either add flour and eggs and such and make the mashed version of potato pancakes or I love to put it in the food processor when it's cold, beat in a couple of eggs, lots of seasoning and some cheese and bake it a buttered dish.  It becomes a lovely, crusty side dish for a roast.
     
  20. rpooley

    rpooley

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    P.S.  When I make them, I use a ricer for a smoother mash, add butter or whatever the fat is first, then add hot milk bit by bit until it is the consistency I am looking for.