In a pickle: How to solve cooking problems with cream

Jan 31, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. ET

In a pickle? Surprisingly, cream is the answer to most common cooking problems.

In a pickle...

Using cream
to fix meals

In a pickle? Surprisingly, cream is the answer to most common cooking problems.

Cooking typically provides a lot of fun and excitement for the chef, that is, until something goes wrong. Whether cooking for yourself, your family or a group of friends, you take satisfaction knowing you've done a job well and cringe at the thought of messing up and having to order take-out. The next time you find yourself with a disastrous meal in front of you, see if you can fix the meal (and save yourself the embarrassment) with some good old-fashioned cream.

A background on cream

There are four common types of cream. Whichever you choose to use will work just fine, just keep in mind that if you're using a thicker cream, like heavy whipping cream, you won't need to add as much as if you were to use a lighter cream. The four types of cream are:

  • Half-and-half: a mixture of whole milk and cream; contains 12% butterfat
  • Light cream: similar to half-and-half but has a bit more fat (20% butterfat)
  • Whipping cream: higher in fat (30% butterfat); thickens when whipped, making a good topping on dessert
  • Heavy cream: highest in fat (about 40% butterfat); holds its shape when whipped and doubles in volume

The best type of cream to have on hand is heavy cream, since if you want it lighter or thinner you can simply add milk to it.

Check out this recipe for mushroom ravioli in a mushroom cream sauce >>

Solving cooking problems with cream

When cooking, there are so many steps and a million and one things going on, so it's no wonder a little goof here or there is common. The next time you goof, remember one word: cream. Cream can fix just about anything — from overly-spiced food to overcooked meat.

  • Too much seasoning. Seasoning food takes practice. Though it's definitely best to under season, sometimes we go a little overboard and end up with a dish that's just too hot. The solution? Add some cream. Start with just a tiny amount, like a few tablespoons, and go from there. The cream will significantly mellow out the dish, and no one will know you goofed!
  • Too much grease. Some foods, like bacon, are naturally super greasy and other times we add too much oil, like when sauteeing vegetables. Adding cream helps take away the oils from foods. Again, only add a little bit at a time, and add toward the end of the cooking process.
  • Dry or overcooked meats. Whether you overcooked the meat or it just turned out too dry, add a little cream to moisten it and hide the burned flavor. Simply pour a little bit on top of the meat and let it soak in. You'll have a wonderful, moist meal in no time.

As you can see, just about any cooking problem can be solved with cream. Next time, give it a try! We are certain this method won't disappoint!

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