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Dinner tonight tasted horrible. Where did I go wrong?

(62 Posts)
BringBackBant Tue 10-Sep-13 21:50:57

Got the recipe off YouTube!

Basically, browned some chicken thighs - then removed from the pan to soften some onions & garlic, added two tins of chopped tomatoes, pinch of sugar then re-added the chicken & into the oven for 30 mins.

It has an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste. Did it need a bit more sugar do you think?

One thing that is worrying me slightly - I used a new cast iron pan that I haven't seasoned. Would that have caused it?


ushaiza Sun 15-Sep-13 07:41:14

It was not your fault at all.
The recipe is fine.
Acidic things like tomatoes should not be cooked in a cast iron pan. It ruins the taste. The iron leaches into the food.
Some people say that if properly seasoned a cast iron pan can be used for acidic things, but most people advise against it.
That pan is fine for everything except tomatoes, vinegar, wine, and other acid things.

MadameDefarge Wed 11-Sep-13 14:09:57

and anyway, its what makes you happy that counts. there is no hard and fast rule.

the discussion started simply because some folk seemed to think sugar was an abomination and VERY VERY WRONG.

Which of course it isn't. neither is salt. neither is nothing. It is all about the product (yes products do differ) and palates (and yes, palates differ also).

And sod all to do with cooking for 20, 30, 500 or a a squilllion years.

MadameDefarge Wed 11-Sep-13 14:06:03

I do agree about the salt though. As salt is a flavour enhancer it really brings out the tomatoey-ness of the tomatoes.

MadameDefarge Wed 11-Sep-13 14:04:48

In fact I think you will find that tomato-based life forms are actually what people the universe.

so there.

MadameDefarge Wed 11-Sep-13 14:02:44

I have been cooking since the big bang.

Offishully the longest.


snowlie Wed 11-Sep-13 12:26:42

The onions if slowly cooked will release some sugar and the tomatoes will be less bitter if cooked for longer and the quality of the tomatoes themselves will make a difference.

I'd do the tomato sauce separately on the stove top, taste first then adjust, I don't always sweeten but when i do I add sugar,....sometimes I add balsamic, sometimes - ketchup! <gasp>

Quangle Wed 11-Sep-13 11:50:11

I think the sugar in the toms is a red herring grin. I find onions actually take a long time to really soften and go sweet. If I am roasting them, it's a good hour. Even if I start things off on the hob, it takes much longer than you think. Undercooked onion will make things bitter and nasty.

MrsDoomsPatterson Wed 11-Sep-13 11:47:35

And I've been cooking since before I was even born - ok?

MrsDoomsPatterson Wed 11-Sep-13 11:44:40

Yep, sugar not required, tinned toms just need a good long cookdown to taste anything near nice.

barleysugar Wed 11-Sep-13 11:36:26

I promise you salt will have a better effect than sugar!

steppemum Wed 11-Sep-13 10:16:34

Oh for goodness sake
I will say it in words of one syllable so that I am not miss understood again

I have never found the need to add sugar to chicken dishes WITH TOMATOES IN THEM as my sauce is never bitter. Obviously it is the tomatoes not the chicken as the whole discussion was about the need to add sugar because of the tomatoes. My point was that I never would add sugar to a savoury dish like this.

And no it isn't because I have a crap palate and therefore don't mind the bitter taste, as plenty of people eat mine and compliment me on it.

And obviously i have been cooking for at least 500 years etc etc grin

dreamingbohemian Tue 10-Sep-13 23:41:26

msblue -- all kinds really. Usually not the cheapest nor the dearest.

I usually add lots of basil and oregano too, maybe that does it.

Msbluebozooka Tue 10-Sep-13 23:26:32

Yep , it all depends on the make.

RussianBlu Tue 10-Sep-13 23:23:08

I think the problem lies in the tinned tomatoes, I don't like using them as I feel they often have a not very nice taste.

MadameDefarge Tue 10-Sep-13 23:23:03

morrisons used to do an own brand of toms which were utterly lush. I cried when they stopped stocking them. Six years ago. I still mourn them.

MadameDefarge Tue 10-Sep-13 23:21:39

right. the chemistry of of long cooking of acidic foods such as onions and tomatoes is that longer cooking removes excess water, so dehydrating the food, which accentuates the sweeter flavours of the vegetables. which is why if you cook down onions in just oil they will become intensely sweet, as will tomatoes.

This can however take quite a long time, so if you don't have a few hours to make a tomato confit a la Heston, a decent cooking down and a pinch of sugar will do the job.

However if you have rubbish tinned toms (and there are plenty out there) you might never get a decent balance without adding other stuff, like sugar.

I thank yow.

Msbluebozooka Tue 10-Sep-13 23:16:40

Dreaming what tin tomatoes are you using tho?

BringBackBant Tue 10-Sep-13 23:15:27

Maybe the sugar is only necessary if you're not cooking the tomatoes for long. My go-to pasta sauce (which we have at least once a week) is literally tinned toms, onion, crushed garlic, oregano & basil, tomato puree & half teaspoon of sugar. It's lovely (esp. with grated cheese). Maybe a longer cooked dish doesn't need the bit of sugar because the acid is cooked away?

That sounds lovely, dreaming. I love chicken cooked in white wine. Will give that a try. Thanks smile

dreamingbohemian Tue 10-Sep-13 23:13:14

x-post with Madame

Now I am really discombobulated about the sugar/salt thing

My sauce is never bitter! I do tend to cook it a long time though so maybe that's why.

MadameDefarge Tue 10-Sep-13 23:09:24

And yes mintty, I have been cooking since I was nine (including family meals, not just fairy cakes). my mum was a fabulous cook and introduced me to Elizabeth David very early...

Just so you don't saying I'm a bit fat liar grin

dreamingbohemian Tue 10-Sep-13 23:08:44

I'm glad I'm not the only one confused about the sugar. I always use salt and cook for at least 30-45 minutes. Have always gotten compliments on my sauce!

OP what you could try is sticking the tomatoes on to boil first, then do your prep, then in a separate pan brown the chicken and onions and garlic, then stick it all in the oven. If the sauce isn't quite ready when the chicken is done, just pull out the chicken and let the sauce cook another 10-15 minutes.

That's just a guess as I've never made this dish. I do something similar but easier, just cover chicken and garlic and potatoes with mustard, white wine and rosemary and cook for 30-40 minutes in the oven.

MadameDefarge Tue 10-Sep-13 23:07:19

I was much nicer than you mintty about the sugary chicken.

BringBackBant Tue 10-Sep-13 23:05:36

may I butt in here BringBack?

You may!

I would have had it at 180 and covered it with foil for the first 45 mins..that would semi steam the chicken keeping it moist while the last 15 would brown the skin nicely

That sounds perfect. Will do exactly that.

Re: sugar and tomatoes. We eat LOADS of tinned tomatoes - I can really tell the difference if I haven't put a bit of sugar in. A dollop of tomato puree usually helps bring down the bitterness too (dunno why).

Mintyy Tue 10-Sep-13 23:01:04

You don't add sugar to chicken dishes <ffs!>

It is for the benefit of the tinned tomatoes, not the flipping chicken grin.

Yes, there is definitely too much sugar in our diets and we should all get a grip and stop eating so much of it. However, suggesting that the addition of half to 1tsp of sugar to 4-6 servings is going to tip the balance into the realms of the unhealthy is just plain ludicrous.

MadameDefarge Tue 10-Sep-13 22:59:40

may I butt in here BringBack? I would have had it at 180 and covered it with foil for the first 45 mins..that would semi steam the chicken keeping it moist while the last 15 would brown the skin nicely

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