Solutions for Everyday Kitchen Mistakes

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The Most Common Cooking Mistakes

Learn how to avoid these common mistakes for success every time.

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How to Avoid Scorching Root Vegetables
Photo: Randy Mayor

50. You Scorch Your Root Vegetables

A mixed batch of roasted winter vegetables is the perfect healthy side this time of year: hearty, sweet and savory, full of nutrients and fiber. And it seems easy. But what's even easier is turning out vegetables that are pale and soggy from overcrowding, or, worse still, black and dry from overcooking. The problem is that while different veggies can certainly cook in the same pan, they need to be sized and spaced with care. It also helps if you use a good, thick pan, as thin pans conduct heat unevenly and lead to scorching.

The solution: Cut veggies about ½ inch thick. Items that stay whole, like baby carrots, can be your benchmark there. Preheat the oven to between 400° and 450° with a heavy roasting pan inside; the hot pan will jump-start the browning process. Spread oil-coated veggies in the hot pan in a single layer; don't crowd them, because that leads to steaming. Stir after 15 minutes to promote even browning and prevent sticking. Check after another 10 minutes, and then pull when gorgeously browned and fork-tender. If they're well browned but still tough, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of water, reduce heat to 350°, and cook until tender.

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