Today’s topic is the first in a series called “Can this supper be saved?” The Practical Cook adores a challenge, and what could be better than transforming mediocre into wow? If you have ever found yourself with a large batch (or even a small one) of something that didn’t sell to your crowd, read on.
The Practical Cook’s Food Triage Decision Tree
1. Is the item in question burned, broken, rotten, or truly beyond repair? If yes, generally speaking you should throw it out. Do not risk your health over items that are undercooked, improperly stored, etc.
2. Assuming you answered no, is your less-than-prize dish too bland, too seasoned, or just too too? Be specific about what the problem is. (Answer honestly please, no one is looking at your paper.)
2a. Too bland: Add one more high-flavor ingredient and retaste. e.g., black pepper, hot peppers, hot sauce, bacon or prosciutto, parsley, citrus zest or juice, balsamic vinegar, or even salt (don’t tell the Feds about that one please.)
2b. Too seasoned: If it’s too salty, there’s the old trick of cooking it with a potato in it, but I think it’s time to toss it and ease up on the shaker next time. Dilute a non-salty flavor with something creamy, like plain yogurt or sour cream; with volume, like water or stock; or with other unseasoned ingredients, like more veggies, beans, pasta, and so on.
2c. Too too: You just might not like it, and that’s where we start to punt.
3. Once you’ve ascertained the core problem, decide how invested you are in fixing it. Don’t throw good money after bad, but there are some practical ways to save face and your supper. Brainstorm on ways to elevate, conceal, or remarket the dish.
Can this supper be saved?
Today’s real-life example came from my friend, Blended Familia. (Get your problem solved and a nifty moniker at no additional charge!) She bad a double-batch of average-tasting acorn squash soup with bacon and kale. No one really liked it. Can this supper be saved?
After running through the patented Practical Cook decision tree, I suggested four options:
- Add chorizo and serve it again
- Add black beans, diced pickled jalapenos, and cotija and turn it into a burrito
- Use it as a pasta topping, blending it with marinara and red pepper flakes
- Make like a blackbird and bake it into a pie
BF selected the pie option. With some spicy sausage and pie crusts, supper was saved! (The remaining soup was frozen for future pie-ing.) BF reports that while she won’t go out of her way to make the soup again, the transformation moved the family opinion of dinner from “barely tolerable” to “active enjoyment.”
So for you sports fans, here’s the score:
Practical Cook 1
Trash Can 0
Stay tuned, tomorrow’s post will feature the detailed method for Soup Pie and a recipe for its cousin, Rustic Tart.