Like mind-numbingly bad?
So bad, that you knew it couldn’t have been anything you did, the recipe was either put together by someone who was clearly insane or had never cooked a meal in their life?
It’s happened to all of us (yes it still happens to me occasionally) but it happens a lot less the more you cook and the more you know what works.
Here are the three things I look for to know if a recipe is good before I try it i.e. making it onto my client lists or into the regular family rotation:
Know What You Like To Eat
This isn’t to say you should never try anything new or different. But if you’re not a fan of veal or tuna fish, don’t waste your time trying Vitello Tonnato even if someone tells you it’s a classic and you think you should.
Side note WHO THOUGHT MAKING SAUCE OUT OF TUNA FISH AND POURING IT OVER VEAL WAS A GOOD IDEA?!?! And it’s served COLD.
Yes I make Vitello Tonnato for a client because they requested it. I would NOT suggest this to a client. And I would NEVER try it on my family. I can only take so much gagging and crying. And that’s just the husband.
Life’s too short and god knows there are billions of recipes to try.
Know What Works
The more you cook, the more you know how techniques work and what appropriate quantities are.
Don’t be afraid to adjust the recipe for things that you KNOW don’t work.
If you’re sautéing boneless skinless chicken breasts, you know they’re not going to take 30 minutes of cook time. The only thing that’s a recipe for is dry, tough chicken.
If your family doesn’t like food too spicy, you know to cut down on the cayenne or leave it out all together.
That being said, if you have to substitute ¾ of the ingredients, it’s not going to be anything like the intended recipe.
Know Your End Game
Sometimes you want to make something with a million components that takes two days to prepare and cook. And by sometimes, I mean rarely.
Do you generally make quick, hands on dinners or set it and forget it slow cooker dishes?
Do you prefer one pot meals, or a plate with a protein, starch and veg?
Are you a boneless, skinless chicken breast, or a whole chicken with crispy skin kinda family?
There are millions of recipes within each of these categories. If you have at least the technique, style, or main ingredient that you know everyone loves, that’s a good step towards knowing you’ll all like the finished dish.
Final Note: A long ingredient list shouldn’t necessarily put you off. A simple pork tenderloin with a dry spice rub can have a dozen ingredients, but most of them are all spices so that’s still easy enough.
You should beware a recipe that has multiple components. A scallop dish that has a sauce, the scallops, a drizzle and a garnish as is best relegated to a night when you have a lot of time to prepare.
And a lot of wine.