Macaroni troubleshooting

It seems the macaroni was a popular recipe…

And yet it seems some of you have had a little trouble with it, saying the flavour wasn’t quite developed enough.

So I thought I would make a little post here to suggest some things to help the flavour along.

These tips can apply for all kinds of slow cooking and stew type recipes;

  • Did you use enough salt? It sounds obvious, but sometimes, all it needs is a little more salt…
  • Use beef stock or (something that Europeans use in EVERYTHING), Vegeta. It’s in the stock section of supermarket, and it’s a vegetable stock powder…and a teaspoon in anything will make it nice and tasty.
  • Try a teaspoon of celery salt when sauteing the onion and garlic. I use that in everything…it’s a good base flavour, if you don’t want to put actual celery in – which if course you can.
  • You could also put more herbs in it (parsley, oregano, thyme)
  • Put a bay leaf in while it cooks. This will give a little more complexity of flavour.
  • Buy your meat ‘on the bone’ and throw in the bone with the cooking, this will also add flavour.
  • You could try using a tin of tomatoes instead of tomato paste.
  • Keep to the cheap cuts of meat as these have the strongest flavour. I wouldn’t advise using rump, but if you don’t like chuck steak, you could use round steak or gravy beef.
  • In regards to technique, make sure you brown the beef, don’t stew it. Browning seals the meat and also leaves the nice brown stuff in the pan, which adds flavour. If it is stewing then use a bigger pot or do it in batches.
  • Also, don’t stir it too much. Let it simmer and don’t stir it too many times, and DO bring it to the boil at the beginning. I don’t know why this helps, but I know it does. If anyone can enlighten me on this please do!
  • Don’t skip on the simmering. Simmering reduces the liquid content and concentrates the flavours. So don’t go an add heaps of water at the end if it’s too dry, add more water and then let simmer some more.

I was talking to mum about this today and we both agreed that you have to keep trying at these things. Don’t let one bad result put you off. The more you make it the better you get, and the more you will learn to make it to your taste.

We all have times, even after years of experience when a meal just doesn’t work out as it usually does. But you can’t let it stop you from trying again!

We also agreed that somehow when cooking, when you try really hard to make something delicious, you are always disappointed. And yet when you are in a rush and you just throw it all in and hope for the best, you often get the best results.

This could have something to do with your expectations in relation to the amount of effort you have put in….but I also think it has something to do with the natural order of life. A busy life, whether with kids, work or other things means cooking is sometimes improvised, instinctive…and maybe this is the way it was meant to be.

Home cooking is always the best kind of food, and perhaps it’s becuase Mama hasn’t had the time to neatly chop all the meat or veges in the same size and shape and because she accidentally left something to boil down too much, or left something on the stove for too long…

Just some food for thought.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. I know it was cheesy.

If anyone has any other tips or advice, please do write and let me know. I don’t claim to be a chef or expert by any means, these are just ways I would approach the problem.


3 thoughts on “Macaroni troubleshooting

  1. I cooked the tomato pasta again last night and I must say it tasted better. I let it simmer for some time and resulted in the orange thick oily layer. But I still feel something is missing. Maybe I ll try out your tips from this post next time. 🙂


    • That’s great Ellyn! Keep trying. You’ll have to experiment to get the taste YOU prefer. If I am out of ideas, or time I always find a little Vegeta or stock powder, cooked in for five minutes will always rescue any dish!!! It’s a bit of a cheat, but until you get it right YOUR way, it’s a good quick fix.

      Please feel free to send in a photo, and I’ll post it up! Thanks again Ellyn, Lara

  2. I didnt get to take the photos. Was too concentrating on the process (cos I cooked both pasta and the instant mushroom soup at the same time). :p

    Will do next time!

    Thanks again for the great tips.


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