“Oh, doesn’t it smell wonderful?”
“It looks delicious!”
Then, you stick the spoon in and taste. You wonder what vile thing crawled into the pot and died. There is too much of something.
Enough is as good as a feast.
Those who cook with salt are quick to profess without it the dish would be awful. In some cases, this is true. There is definitely a line where too much of a good thing is outright awful. Making a dish too salty is across the line.
Water it Down
When the soup tastes like veggies in sea water, it is usually because too much water evaporated during the cooking process. Simply add more water or stock to the pot. Add in very small doses, stir and taste. Continue adding until the salt-to-liquid ratio is more palatable.
Suck it Up
Is there plenty of liquid and the soup’s not done? Toss in some raw potato and add just a little more water. Potatoes will absorb the salt.
Is it already almost dinner time? Turn off the heat under the soup. Continued cooking will make it even saltier. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and quickly cook them. Add them to the soup to soak up the salt. You can leave them in if you like.
Need a substitute for potato? Use cooked noodles, rice or pasta to suck out the salt. Again, leaving them in is entirely up to you.
Veggies & Meat
If you got heavy-handed with the salt shaker, you can overcome the saltiness with a small sprinkling of sugar. Yes, sugar on meat. The sweet offsets the salt. Just keep the amount of sugar small enough it is not obvious. Brown sugar works best.
While not quite as effective as sugar to cut the salt, add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to meats and vegetables you have over-salted. It give an edge to your dish so your taste buds focus on something besides the salt.
I need a fire extinguisher.
Did you mistakenly put three tablespoons of hot sauce in the dish instead of three teaspoons? There is such a thing as too hot. Some guests can barely handle hot while others have medical reasons they cannot have hot at all.
Have Some More!
No, no. Not more hot sauce. That is how we got in this mess. Add more of everything else. Over-spice the chili? Add more beans, beef broth, tomato sauce or meat. Is it five-alarm sauce? Add proportions of all other ingredients, just leave out the hot sauce.
Negative vs. Positive
Extinguish burning tongues with a neutralizing side dish. Serve it over unsalted rice, a bed of tortillas or plain pasta. Offer toppings like cheese and sour cream. These are the standbys for restaurants which serve spicy cuisine like Thai, Mexican and Indian. Use the tricks of the pros in your kitchen.
Honey, I burned the roast.
Meat is expensive. Tossing out a roast is heartbreaking. Just remember it is only black on one side, and it is dry.
To salvage a burnt roast, trim off the charred (black, crumbly) portion. Thinly slice the remaining dry meat from the interior of the roast. Layer the slices in a baking dish. Add equal parts beef broth and salsa or picante sauce.
In a sauce pan or skillet, stir together black or pinto beans and canned or frozen corn. Drop in some chopped onion to taste. Let stand for five to ten minutes. Warm on medium heat until it bubbles. Pour over meat in baking dish.
Cover the entire casserole with a hard, sharp cheese. Pop it into the oven until the cheese melts and is bubbly. Serve with warm, soft tortillas or corn/tortilla chips.
Another way to moisten up burnt meat is to add sauce or gravy. Cut off the burnt part and shred the meat with your fingers or a fork. Stir the shredded meat into barbecue sauce, bottled gravy or handmade gravy made from flour and drippings from the roast (if there are any).
Warm the dish on the stove top for about five minutes until it bubbles. Pour it over potatoes, pasta, Texas toast or biscuits.
Not Nearly Enough
If it is meatloaf or hamburger steaks, you are not hurting anyone’s feelings by handing them a bottle of steak sauce or (shudder) ketchup to change the flavor. Roast, veal, steak and pork demand something far better.
Mix equal parts apricot preserves and Hoisin sauce or chili sauce in a sauce pan. Stir on medium heat until the preserves are melted and blended with the sauce. Spread lightly over meat slices or serve on the side.
Sweet & Sour
You can make your own sweet and sour sauce with apricot preserves heated in the microwave until just melted. Blend in apple cider vinegar to taste.
Mix together Creole or Dijon mustard and deli horseradish with a dab of honey. Stir in shredded mint leaves to taste. You can substitute dried mint leaves, but use dried parsley as well.
The nightmares do not have to be budget-busting disasters. Just use a few secrets.
What is your secret rescue for too much and not enough?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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