It’s pretty much a given that, whatever you do in the kitchen, burning your food isn’t on your list of culinary goals. A mouthful of ash isn’t anyone’s favorite entrée. But when you’re just starting out as a newbie cook, burnt food inevitably happens. Maybe you didn’t get your temps just right or you got a little too distracted by adorable dog pics on Insta… and there goes the fire alarm.
If you struggle to sear, broil, or roast just right, there’s hope! Believe it or not, a ton of tasty recipes actually call for a bit of blackening.
Caramelization adds sweet flavor to some foods, and other techniques allow food lingering on high heat to obtain a craveable crunch. And though there’s some debate about the safety of eating charred foods, the occasional indulgence of overdone food isn’t likely to harm your health in the long term.
Ready to burn, baby, burn? Here are 10 foods you can actually get away with charring to a (delicious) crisp.
Behold: proof that caramelization can make any food to-die-for, even broccoli. The crisped ends of long-stemmed broccolini practically sing with sweetness in this unique white pizza. And what’s really sweet? Jo Eats got the time down so you can put the whole thing in the oven at once — no pre-roasting of ingredients required.
Dusting on a blackening blend of seasonings may just be the best way to hide accidental burning. This Mexican shrimp dinner by Evolving Table lets you get your Taco Tuesday on without worrying about whether you left the poor shrimpies in the pan too long.
Do you secretly love the burnt ends of beef brisket? What if you could have a whole meal of them? YOU CAN. For the day you’re trying to show off (and if you have a smoker), get Jess Pryles’ recipe for chopped charred brisket. Dip these little chunks in something saucy.
Thankfully, you can’t burn pasta (at least not by boiling it). Though the orecchiette in this recipe may turn out a bit mushy if overdone, crispy pancetta and roasted brussels sprouts are the real stars of the show here — and, according to Foodie Crush, they’re actually supposed to get charred.
Onions are like the final boss of food-burning. You can cook those suckers into oblivion, and somehow they keep regenerating with flavor. Try this veggie side dish from Ari’s Menu to add complex character to amp up your go-to seasonless rice and eggs.
If you’ve ever tried shishito peppers alongside restaurant sushi, you know these long green strings conceal a delightful balance of sweetness and heat. And though they may be a Japanese delicacy, they’re surprisingly simple to make at home. Platings and Pairings shows us how easy it is to fire up a skillet with a bit of olive oil and blister to your liking.
Feel the burn outside the kitchen by grilling Tastes Lovely’s corn recipe! (After all, if you’re gonna start a fire, it might as well be outdoors.) Corn takes just about 5 minutes to char on the grill, but it’s OK if you leave it on longer — intentionally or accidentally. A bit of extra blackening may only enhance the corn’s natural sweetness.
Burnt rice is a traditional dish in countries around the world, from the Dominican Republic to Korea. Leaving rice in the bottom of the pan for a few extra minutes creates a browned, crispy layer of crunch that’s super satisfying. Jessica Levinson’s recipe uses the same trick on riced cauliflower for extra fiber and nutrients.
Burnt ice cream sounds like a contradiction in terms, but Pati Jinich’s dessert proves it’s a delicious reality. A caramelized milk syrup gives the ice cream rich flavor, and animal crackers finish things off with a touch of the whimsy. (Note to self: Find other excuses to add animal crackers to foods.)
Ah, crème brûlée, friend of culinary pyromaniacs everywhere. This tasty dessert from The First Year Blog serves as both a sweet finish and a meal-ending cup of joe. While you don’t want to burn the dark espresso custard, no one will notice if you go a little overboard with the blowtorch and scorch the top.
Sarah Garone is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger. Find her sharing down-to-earth nutrition info at A Love Letter to Food or follow her on Twitter.