Seven Foods That Taste Better Overcooked (Or Outright Burnt)

If you're a shiftless ne'er-do-well like me, you'll often find yourself halfway through cooking dinner when you realize you've got better things to do. It's not your fault; cooking involves long, boring stretches of waiting for water to boil or waiting for the oven timer to ding. What are you, made of time? No, you've got things to do, work to finish, online pets to feed before they starve to "death," animated gifs of Alison Brie bouncing up and down to peruse.

So off you go, to amuse (and possibly touch) yourself, and by the time you remember you've got something on the burner, it's well past "medium." So what should you do? Develop a more appropriate attention span and learn to appreciate the quiet, serene stretches of cooking? Pfft, no. Just stick to the following dishes as often as you can and you'll still wind up with something edible, even if you torch the bejeezus out of it.

7. Toast Have you ever tried toast that wasn't at least a little scorched? I have. It tasted like a weak, mushy cracker. Since the only weak, mushy cracker permitted in my home is me, I prefer to set my toaster right on the far edge of "Dark." That way it comes out crunchy, crispy, and without that annoying "bread" flavor to interfere with the gobs of butter and jelly I will of course be applying.

6. Pizza Personally, I prefer my pizza cooked "just right," with little or no blackened crust, but there is a sizable contingent out there who aren't happy unless they're chowing down on a thoroughly charred pie. Indeed, pizza with a scorched bottom crust is something of a delicacy in certain places, and some pizza joints keep their ovens super-hot for just such an effect. Although the blackening of the crust certainly does change the flavor, I suspect that what many people like about overcooked pizza is not the crust, but the...

5. Cheese Whether being used as a garnish, a topping, or a dip, cheese is always best if you burn it just a bit. Burning cheese lets it harden and crisp and takes some of the mushy greasiness out of it, and it makes a fine, crispy crust to boot. The only reason I would ever eat French Onion soup, for instance, is because it so often comes served with that lovely layer of mozzarella melted over the top of the bowl. And don't even try to serve me a properly cooked fondue unless you want to see me explode into a frothing rage and upend whichever table I happen to be sitting at. It really is a problem; I'm banned from more Red Lobsters than Todo Moto.

4. Steak Some say "chop meat off animal, wave briefly in front of fire, serve bloody." No. These people wrong. Man cook meat with fire. Man burn meat. Man exert dominion over beasts by scorching flesh with flame before consuming. Man no taste blood; man taste only fear. Fear of beastie from fire. Beastie scared, even in afterlife, so thoroughly is beastie's flesh burned. Man laugh loud, eat more meat. Yum. ("Man" include woman, too. Writer liberated progressive.)

3. Onions You don't "burn" onions, you "caramelize" them. It makes them sweet, like candy. This is the only way to eat onions, unless you've got a deep-frier.

2. Marshmallows If you don't let your mashmallows catch on fire and develop a thin, black shell before popping them into your mouth, then I don't even know how to relate to you. Never gleefully burning the everloving shit out of your mouth on a smoldering, blackened marshmallow means you're most likely an alien. Like those people who don't save up their condiment packets from takeout. Yeah that's right, I'm on to you, you space lizard scum.

1. Lasagna This is the absolute best dish to overcook, period, bar none. Some would expect "chicken" to go here, but I strongly disagree. Chicken is a tricky, temperamental meat that must be cooked just right or else wind up drier than a mummy's taint. Every single piece of "blackened" chicken we've ever been served was like gnawing on a tractor tire, so don't even try to argue. No, lasagna is number one because when you leave it in the oven just a little too long, the cheese gets wonderfully browned and crispy, as do the outer edges of the pasta. It adds a crunchy outer layer while making the inner layers even more soft and gooey. It's like a pasta cobbler. It's amazing. Always burn your lasagnas. Always.

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John Seaborn Gray