Chopped Judge Alex Guarnaschelli Has One Surprisingly Simple Cooking Hack

Any advice from Chopped judge and celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli is advice we should all follow in the kitchen. And in a recent interview with Taste of Home, Guarnaschelli had one surprising — and effective — cooking tip you only wish you'd known sooner.

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Basically, when faced with a cooking disaster, Guarnaschelli’s trick involves the most basic of ingredients: water.

“You know while you’re cooking stuff and things are overly brown and things are spinning out of control, a splash of water [will help],” Guarnaschelli said. 

For instance, if your sauce is too thick and it’s boiling away, add a splash of water.

“If your chocolate sauce or your hot fudge is separating because it’s too much cream or butter in it, a splash of water will fix it,” she continued.

Guarnaschelli also spilled on her go-to pantry items: vinegar, honey and — wait for it — Dijon mustard. “Life is not life without Dijon mustard,” she said. 

As far as honey goes, she said she keeps a jar in her kitchen because just a tiny bit of honey can help balance out anything overly bitter or overly spicy, including sauces, vinaigrettes and meat. 

“I think it’s just a great fixer of things,” she said, adding that vinegar is great to add on salads or on broccoli. 

In short, Guarnaschelli advises you channel your inner Michael Scott and KISS — keep it simple, stupid.

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“I just think that however simple you think dinner is going to be, if you’re getting it on the table yourself, that’s three-quarters of the battle in my book,” she said.

And that includes cleanup.

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This is where Guarnaschelli’s love for baking sheets comes in. She swears by them for two reasons: Making family meals on busy weeknights is a breeze, and they leave very little cleanup.

“I think that minimizing the amount of time you do the dishes is critical,” she said. “I just line a baking sheet with parchment. And if a higher temperature cooking is involved, I just skip the parchment and I just use aluminum foil.”

She added that one of her favorite sheet pan dinners include chicken thighs with an onion medley seasoned with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of curry or cumin.

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