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Worst overnight cooking adventure?

Reading a current CH thread on stock making--where some posters suggest cooking the stock overnight--I'm recalling how I decided last Winter to cook pork butt overnight in my crock-pot for pulled pork the next day. I had all kinds of serious spice rub and onions and fish sauce and you-name-it goin' on.

My God, I'm used to my wife complaining about cooking smells. But this one even got to me. Have you ever asked yourself, "Is this a smell I should really be dealing with at bedtime?"

Or what other overnight cooking snafus have you experienced?

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  1. Made beef stock in the crockpot like I always did... one morning woke up and found that the thing had exploded all over the place and dried into a sticky sheen on the countertop, floor, and everything in between. Had to hose the place down at least three times to get it clean.

    2 Replies
    1. re: link_930

      Wow--that's a candidate for biggest mess ever. My own candidate: spilling something close to a gallon of curried chicken, with plenty of staining turmeric, onto a white linoleum kitchen floor.

      1. re: link_930

        LOL, this was several years ago...not a crockpot kind of guy, but got one as a gift and decided to try the chicken w/40 cloves of garlic James Beard recipe that came with. Put it on in the morning. By 8 that night, chicken was still not cooked, so made something quick and forgot about the crockpot. About 4 a.m., I woke up with burning eyes and the nastiest smell coming from downstairs. The top had blown off, the chicken was flat as a pancake (but cooked!) and garlic was burned into the liner. My last crockpot experience.

      2. Your first mistake was fish sauce. Fish sauce and pulled pork should never be in the same sentence, let alone the same crockpot.

        I've never had a problem with an overnight crockpot. I also cook beef bones, etc. overnight, but I do it in a low oven and it works great every time.

        9 Replies
        1. re: John E.

          Actually, I'm pretty sure that the small amount of fish sauce that I use in such applications has little effect on the cooking smell (and a very good effect on the taste). The smell culprits are, I think, pork fat and the spices.

          1. re: Bada Bing

            Yeah, pork fat. Rendering lard is a special smell. I love it, but understand why others don't...

          2. re: John E.

            Worcestershire is an anchovy based sauce often found in rubs....... just saying.....

            1. re: thew

              Worcestershire and fish sauce are more dissimilar than they are similar. Fish sauce is fermented (rotting) fish. I use it in Thai cooking but would not use it in pulled pork. Then again, I don't use worcestershire sauce in pulled pork either.

              1. re: John E.

                To each his own. But your language is prejudicial, I think: is wine made from "rotting" grapes?

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  Yes, controlled fermentation is a far different thing from rotting, at least semantically.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    fish sauce is also controlled fermentation.

                    worcestershire is also made from fermented fish, and otehr fermented ingredients. to somehow say fish sause is differeent because it is fermented fish is to ignore what worcestershire sauce really is. ("Worcestershire sauce (pronounced /ˈwʊstərʃərsɔːs/[1] WOOS-tər-sher-saws), or Worcester Sauce (/ˈwʊstərsɔːs/ WOOS-tər-saws) is a fermented liquid condiment flavouring used especially with grilled or barbecued meats."-wikipedia)

                    i've found fish sauce and worcestershire to be very easy to swap out one for the other, to add umami to a dish. you can also use either in dishes that call for a small amount of anchovy in them.

                    "Fermenting fish and fermenting grapes aren't even in the same realm."


                    1. re: thew

                      thew, were you addressing me? I know this already. But thanks anyway.

                  2. re: Bada Bing

                    Of course my language is prejudicial. I didn't think it wasn't obvious.

                    Fermenting fish and fermenting grapes aren't even in the same realm.

            2. >>>"Is this a smell I should really be dealing with at bedtime?"<<<

              Too funny. I can't recall anything this bad, but I do hate when pungent cooking smells longer well past dinner. Was the pork at least good?

              4 Replies
              1. re: ChristinaMason

                My neighbor down the hall cooks West Indian style curries or something curried and the smell, which is great for the first two hours, gets to be quite difficult to deal with at 2 am.

                I never cook anything overnight. I have fear of that. I would not get any sleep.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  You and me both----I can't even leave a pot of beans in a low oven and go to the store without risking a nervous breakdown.

                  1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                    LOL. I know what you mean. I'm the nervous type.

                2. re: ChristinaMason

                  The pork was terrific, fortunately. Still, I'll avoid a repeat of the timing.

                3. When I first got my bread maker, I'd make bread at night, so it would be ready in the morning. The problem is fresh baked bread baking at 2am always woke me up and kept me up. It's like a olfactory alarm clock.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    Yes, this has happened to me, too! Next time I'll make the bread in the garage...

                    Come to think of it, I could put the crockpot out there, too--let the neighbors deal with it!

                  2. Do I live in some hermetically sealed place? I just close the door in my one-bed apartment and never had trouble with food smells...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: link_930

                      My boy and my dog would want payback if I closed the door...

                    2. I decided to make kimchi in my boyfriend-now-husband's apartment a few years ago. I found a recipe and set to work slicing cabbage, adding vinegar, etc. The recipe said to cover it with plastic wrap and sit for a couple days. We were at my place for a day or so and I'll never forget stepping off the elevator and being hit with an obnoxious scent. We thought someone had put some stinky trash in the garbage closet. As we walked down the hallway and unlocked his door, we realized it was my kimchi. It quickly went in the trash, the windows were opened and we went back to my place til the smell dissipated. I haven't tried kimchi again, but we still laugh about that cooking disaster.


                      2 Replies
                        1. I like to make the chicken stock in my crock pot but I HATE HATE HATE the smell of the stock cooking as I sleep. Don`t get me wrong - I love chicken broth and I live in a really big house so it`s not about being cooped up in a small place, but the smell of that broth simmering wafts upstairs to the bedroom and is enough to give me nightmares. When I sleep, I do not want to smell that kind of thing. I think it comes from the days when my husband and I went to visit my mother`s small condo in Florida and slept in the living room. The smell of chicken paprikas or garlicky brisket cooking at 7:30 a.m. made both of us nauseous.

                          I now put the crock pot outside on the counter beside the barbecue during the summer to make overnight stock. In the winter, I put it in a back room and close the door tight. Some of the smell still escapes but it`s not quite as bad.

                          1. Once I was making stock from a fairly small amount of chicken. Longer cooking = more extraction = better flavor, right? And I knew that a full stockpot lost less than a pint of water an hour over a low burner. So I filled my 12-quart stock pot with water, dropped the chicken in, and went to bed.

                            About 4am, the smell of fried chicken began to waft through the house. Fried chicken? Yep. All the water had boiled off, and the remnants of the carcass were sauteeing in the rendered fat.

                            Moral of the story - water evaporates much more slowly when the pot is full than when it's half full. And when it drops down below that, all bets are off...

                            1. My DH had to have sauteed onions at 1 am. Let's just say, that'll never happen again. (The microwave was used also.)