Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Aug 23, 2007 10:20 PM

Things you like slightly burned or burnt?

When cooking lasagna today we let it bubble just a little more than needed or was called for, just so to get some burned edges. Not the whole dish blackened - but enough to get a little bit of the sauces "overcooked" on the top edge. Know what I mean? At the same time, the same ingredients could be used in a thin noodle dish and I’d never think to add a little char to it.

Regardless, it got me thinking about other dishes where “burnt” doesn’t mean disaster.
For example, burnt ends at a BBQ place. To some it is refuse while others think it’s the best fare to order. In fact, many people seemingly prefer certain BBQ dishes with a bit of blackness on the fringes (chops come to mind), or “bark” that either can be eaten or discarded.

Taste wise, there could be an element of intense caramelization that’s appealing. It can also add some extra chewiness for those who like contrasting textures. Or in the case of bark, it can be a means to help the cooking process.

That said, I don’t mind chomping on a handful of charred popcorn kernels. Not burned popped popcorn, but the odd wretched refuse seeds that refuse to fully pop. Am I a fringe element?

What about you? Are there dishes you like a little burned? Or does it make you cringe?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When I, as a young child, would make toast for my mom, she always said that she liked the burned pieces. I thought she was just being a nice mom, but now I think she might actually have been telling the truth. I'm starting to like slightly burned toast myself. And those burned bits on wood-oven-cooked Neapolitan pizza are heaven!


    4 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      My dad used to make his toast right on the open flame of the gas burner on our stove!! I used to like it, too!
      Also- semi burnt hot dogs on the grill are wonderful- as a matter of fact, had them last night for dinner.
      Also agree with the burnt pop corn posts.

      1. re: AnneInMpls

        Definitely burnt toast! I love a good piece of toast slightly blackened over a campfire. My dad insists on his toast being quite charred before he eats it.

        1. re: AnneInMpls

          Believe it or not, I like good BACON on the BURNT side ( crunchy of course ) - particularly in a BLT with summer fresh Peach Heirloom Tomato Slices, Crunchy/Cold Iceberg, Duke's Mayo, Sea Salt, Ground Pepper & Eli's Onion Pocket. YUM!

          1. re: AnneInMpls

            both my mom and grandma love burnt toast.
            me, not so much, but a little burnt isn't too bad.
            i do love toast!

          2. First of all, almost everything cooked directly over a campfire needs a little touch of char, especially anything cooked on a stick like a hot dog or a marshmallow. A wee touch of the black never hurt a chunk vegetable or piece of fruit cooked on the outdoor grill either.

            Now, in the kitchen, it's just not the same. Where there's not smoke folks just don't look for fire. Still, roasted tomatoes or peppers never look truly roasted without a bit of black for contrast.

            1. "the odd wretched refuse seeds that refuse to fully pop"

              Hell ya!!!

              And I thought I was the only one!!! It's been my deepest, darkest secret for 30+ years!!! (well.. that along with my abiding lust for Ernest Borgnine).

              Finally, I have met a soul mate!!!

              14 Replies
              1. re: purple goddess

                I'm also a fan of those little rejects that never fully popped-yup, they're good stuff.

                  1. re: ericalloyd

                    Burned pop-nots: YES. Ernest Borgnine: not my thing, but you might have to fight my mom for him.

                    1. re: misterbrucie

                      Burnt pop-nots, burnt rice, I'm with you on the burned bits on top of lasagna and also on macaroni & cheese...

                    2. re: ericalloyd

                      That's what they are sold as; there's a place that sells them in different flavors under that moniker.

                      1. re: ericalloyd

                        We've always called them old maids. I guess cause they were left behind.

                    3. re: purple goddess

                      There should be a group for us freaks who like the burned popcorn bits! I love them! I also like the whole bag of microwave popcorn to take on a slight blush of toastiness - really ups the total amount of taste.

                      Add me to the burned toast, hotdog, lasagne. Burned pretzels - yum! I will eat a bag of Utz Dark Specials a day when I go back east. I especially love Unique Extra Dark Splits when I can get them. Heaven!

                      I also love burned cheese; specifically, slices of American cheese cooked in a pan until the underside gets all toasty, then folding it up into a crunchy/chewy nugget of cheesiness. Was my favorite part of fried bologna sandwiches as a kid. But for all my love of the toasty, I was the only kid in my family who wouldn't eat burned marshmallows. Mine has to have a perfect level of toastiness without char.

                      1. re: Divamac

                        This board is dangerous! I had never heard of Utz's Dark Specials until I read this post but 6 bags are coming my way! I will have to search out the Unique Extra Dark Splits as well.

                        1. re: Hooda_Guest

                          I've never seen them outside of the PA-to-VA areas. But they do ship!


                          These are seriously burned. Anyone else would consider these garbage. No need to thank me :)

                          1. re: Hooda_Guest

                            After learning about them here, I requested and received 3 bags of Utz's Dark Specials (and 3 of Extra Salt) for Mother's Day and broke into them last night - delicious!

                          2. re: Divamac

                            Any casserole with cheese, especially when Velveeta is an ingredient. Tuna casserole, Scalloped Potatoes, Maccaroni and Cheese.

                            1. re: Divamac

                              Oh man, the "just slightly toasty in the middle" microwave popcorn is my favorite! When the center kernels get just a little gray--not blackened. I always insist on popping the popcorn so I can leave it in a little longer since my boyfriend HATES the toasty taste. I'm pretty sure he's crazy.

                            2. re: purple goddess

                              I like the slightly popped kernels but I also like to add about 10 seconds to the cook time so there is a couple of popped pieces in the center that are slightly browned.
                              I tend to bake my bread to a internal temp of 210-215. Most artisan loaves are lacking in taste, and the extra 10 degrees make a huge difference.

                              I like my veggies cooked to al-dente, but there are very few casseroles (lasagna, etc) where cheese is involved that a few extra degrees doesn't make a huge difference in flavor.

                              The burnt ends of BBQ, and the fond on pans when I am not making a pan sauce is also a highly prized morsel.

                            3. Hey tastyjon-GREAT TOPIC!
                              Flour or corn tortillias cooked directly over a gas burner on the stove...I like the corn tortillias when the edges get all black and crispy and the rest is alll warm and yummy.
                              The flour tortillia get all bubbly and some of the bubbles get really crispy/almost burnt and then I rub a stick of butter on'em and eat 'em up-yum.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: tatertotsrock

                                ooooooohhh yeahhhhhhh baaaaaabyyy (Use your Barry White voice)

                                And paratha and naan and roti, where the bubbles have crisped up and burnt just a weeeee bit....

                                1. re: purple goddess

                                  purple goddess,
                                  you're great! Just read your thing about the fois gras too, you keep making me laugh.
                                  I'd share some burnt bubble tortillas and naan and fois gras if I knew you could hook me up with some 9th Island Wines from Tazzie and some sparkling Pinot/Chards...I got so hooked on them while climbing and kayaking in Tasmania...the best dairy, mushrooms and carrots I've ever had in my life!

                                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                                    why, thank you taters!!!

                                    Come on over and we'll grab some King Island cheddar, some Roaring Forties tripple creme brie, some of my quince paste, a few of those wines and we'll be set like Jelly!!!

                                    Is it wrong that this thread has given me a craving for those specific burnt nodule-y bits on a tandoori lamb cutlet???

                                    1. re: purple goddess

                                      Quince Paste?
                                      Would you mind expanding on that thought dear pg.. I do enjoy your postings so much, but please I am ignorant on this thing you call "Quince".

                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        Quince looks like a lumpy fuzzy yellow apple. You cannot eat it raw, but when you peel, core, slice, and poach in spiced sugar syrup it is *divinely* perfumed. And decidedly pink. I love poached quince.


                                        Quince paste AKA membrillo. Quinces cleaned and cooked down with sugar till very thick and concentrated. It's good served as a fruit accent to pungent cheeses. Chef Chicklet, if you feel like trying it, your profile shows you in the SF Bay Area, you should be able to find it easily.

                                2. re: tatertotsrock

                                  I do this but instead of butter, hot sauce. Usually cholula.

                                3. Have you ever had eggplant pizza? I am not talking about slabs of eggplant thrown over a pie. I am talking seasoned, breaded thin eggplant cooked into the pizza. The pieces that end up "burnt" ( in a good way ) are best.

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: feast

                                    You interest me strangely. Is the eggplant fried before being added to the pizza or does it do all its cooking in the oven? I do love me some good charred eggplant.

                                    1. re: feast

                                      Oh man...fried eggplant pizza. One of two foods I miss from Boston (crispy Pad Thai extra spicy with crispy chicken being the other one). It seems to be a primarily East Coast phenomenon, but I believe Village Pizzeria on Larchmont here in LA offers the fried eggplant as a topping.

                                      Feast, this may be why others may not know of the magic that is fried eggplant pizza.

                                      And Freida, the eggplant is breaded and fried before topping the saucy, chewy thin crust of which most eggplant pizzas are comprised.

                                      Village Pizzeria
                                      131 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

                                      1. re: riceflour

                                        The fried eggplant pizza at Palermon is great. They put freshly fried eggplant on the raw pizza and then I tell them to make it well done. They alson do it with the eggplant parm, tell them to make it well done, where the cheese is really brown. Also with baked mac and cheese, baked rigatoni with the fried eggplant well baked real brown is great.

                                        I agree with the popcorn and well done grilled hot dogs.

                                        1. re: riceflour

                                          You can get fried eggplant pizza at Jacopo's in Beverly Hills. Mmmm..

                                          1. re: Oh Robin

                                            Thank you! I can finally get my fix...

                                        2. re: feast

                                          Burnt eggplant rocks!!!

                                          So do burnt broccoli and cauliflower... adds a new flavor dimension (and I love 'em w/ ketchup). I like a whole plate with zucchini, raddichio, yellow squash, etc.

                                          I make a spinach or broccoli souffle that I cook long enough to burn/brown the edges.

                                          Agree w/ the other recs for cheese.

                                          And white choc chip cookies (no nuts) *almost* burned around the edges and soft, gooey almost raw on the inside... I add batter to a big bowl, then nuke in the micro where the edges get crispy brown and the middle gets just beyond raw to safe to eat.

                                          1. re: Emme

                                            right on, emme! charred cauliflower is insanely good. i like to shave an entire head into little bits, toss with salt, pepper, a drop of olive oil and maybe some garlic, and spread on a baking sheet...then roast in a super-hot oven [450 or so] for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. the end result is a pan of crispy nuggets of concentrated sweet & savory goodness that you'd never expect.

                                            it works really well with shaved or shredded brussels sprouts too.

                                            i love using either one as a topping for salad or roasted veggies.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              That sounds wonderful, but how do you shave such an unwieldy veg.? Are you talking about making super-thin slices of each floret? Of the whole head? Do you use your chef's knife or...?

                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                it's sort of a pain, but worth it.

                                                i actually just did it last night using a chef's knife. i held the head over the baking sheet and ran the knife across the surface trying to shave off the thinnest pieces possible. just make sure you keep rotating it so you can hit the uneven surfaces from all angles. doing it this way, i was able to shave it down [and around] all the way to the core.

                                                the last time i did it i removed the core first and cut the head down into smaller pieces, then shaved them on a mandoline - it's tricky because the florets crumble so easily. i think the knife method works better, and you still get lots of crumbly bits along with the paper-thin slices, but with less risk of losing a knuckle :)

                                                regardless of which method you choose, be sure to really spread the bits out on your pan - i used 2 large baking sheets for 1 medium-large head. if the pieces are too crowded or packed in, they'll steam instead of roasting.

                                                toss [or spray well] with oil and plenty of salt & pepper...maybe some garlic [although that's tricky because if it burns it can be extremely bitter]. i've even added cumin or paprika depending on my mood - both were delicious.

                                                once in the oven [temp of about 450 degrees seems to work best], watch closely, and stir/toss a few times throughout the baking process to ensure even toasting. i wish i could give you a cooking time, but it's been different each time i've done it depending on the volume of cauliflower, number of pans, etc.

                                                btw, the exact same method works beautifully with brussels sprouts, but in terms of preparation method, definitely use a mandoline for those.


                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  an easier way to get cauliflower into shreds is to to cut into manageable pieces, then toss in a blender or food processor and pulse til the right size!

                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    d-oh! [said as i smack my hand against my forehead...]

                                                    thanks emme...i can't believe i forgot that simple tip! especially since i recently used that same method to make cauliflower 'couscous.'

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      No problem :-)

                                                      My other favorite kitchen gadget is the coffee bean grinder, which I use to create "high fiber bran flour," in other words, All Bran Extra Fiber ground into a flour like powder [1 cup = 1/4 cup flour].

                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Of course with brussels sprouts, you can pull off the leaves. Some high end restaurants around the SF Bay Area use that as an appropriately high labor intensive side dish. And 'les petit choux' are coming into season now too.

                                                    1. re: Louise

                                                      emme -
                                                      you're right, it's super handy. also perfect for grinding nuts, seeds & spices. i have 2 coffee grinders - one dedicated solely to coffee, and one for all the other ingredients. ok, once again i have to ask, how the heck can you [or why would you] eat all-bran with your gluten intolerance...?

                                                      louise -
                                                      the idea behind the shaved brussels sprouts is to achieve the same heavenly light & crispy texture you get with individual leaves...but without having to endure the labor-intensive task of removing each one, leaf by leaf :)

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        i don't eat it anymore, but i have friends and family that eat low cal, high fiber, weight watchers style, so i use all bran flour as a sub to up fiber and lower calories and points in muffin recipes, crusts, etc. sadly, unless i choose to stay in for the evening... i do not myself indulge anymore.

                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      i forgot....fennel is delicious prepared this way as well. i made some today. yum!

                                                2. re: Emme

                                                  the crusty bits of a souffle are the best! i'll fight mano a mano for those.

                                                  1. re: mrsjenpeters

                                                    I worked at a noodle place and we used to get this family that came in about twice a week. They always wanted their noodles sautéed until they were completely black before the sauce was added. I'm talking a good 15-20 minutes over a very hot flame. I was always curious as to why and how this tasted but honestly never had the patience to wait so long for something I didn't think I would like. I would sometimes over sauté my noodles but only to the point that they were a little browned and it was delicious. Anybody ever tried anything like this? I mean, I get liking some char but this seemed like a a little too much.