Thanksgiving is next week, meaning that even some people whose version of “home cooking” involves pressing a button on the microwave will be playing chef for the day. But there are a number of kitchen habits — some of them handed down through the generations — that home cooks need to break themselves of before they pop in that turkey (or tofurkey, if you’re so inclined).
Here are four bad habits our pals-in-publishing at Consumer Reports say need to be stopped ASAP:
1. Lining the oven with foil:
As we’ve already reported, slapping a layer of foil around the inside of your oven can void your warranty but it can also trap heat and throw off the oven’s performance.
Instead, writes CR, use heavy-duty foil on the rack below the food that’s cooking–a sheet that’s a few inches bigger than the pan above. It catches drips and allows heat to circulate properly.
2. Pop-up thermometers:
If you’re depending on that pop-up thermometer that comes already stuck in your turkey, you’re probably going to end up with a dryer bird than you want. That’s because, says CR, those pop-ups are generally set to pop once the internal temperature of the meat reaches 180 degrees, higher than is needed for safe cooking.
So rather than rely on a pop-up, get a real meat thermometer and put it in the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the thigh and wing. Even those overly cautious ninnies at the USDA say that 165 degrees is a safe temperature for turkey.
3 & 4. Two nonstick no-nos:
As much as you like that nonstick cookware of yours, be careful not to expose it to very high heat. Conventional nonstick coatings can break down under extreme temperatures and create fumes that kill pet birds and possibly make humans ill. Keeping the heat to low or medium will preserve your pans — and not kill Tweety.
And don’t go using cooking spray on that nonstick cookware, as it can damage the coating, resulting in gummy sides and food that sticks. Instead, just use a small amount of oil or butter for flavor.
Four bad cooking habits you should break now [Consumer Reports]