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desperate for help; tips or tricks for a strange food prep issue!

My significant other will only eat food that is almost burnt! Not kidding! Veggies have to be almost mushy (I take mine out early) and food always has to have some amount of char marks! Strange, I know. Food can be thouroughly cooked, brrowned even (ex: sausages that are boiled, then fried and browned but no dark char and he will say it's not cooked enough!) Anyone have any tricks for facking browning or charring?? Thanks, getting desperate and sick of cooking things to death!!

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    1. if he were my SO, he'd be cooking for himself.

      1. I wouldn't say no; I'd cook his food the way he likes it and cook mine the way I like it. Not everyone likes everything the same.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Cherylptw

          Separate meals will wear away at their relationship over time, not to mention causing turmoil when they entertain or go out to restaurants or the homes of others. He needs to get over it before it controls their lives and relationships. Maybe cooking classes for him would help.

          1. re: sandylc

            I kind of disagree with the fact that he "needs to get over it". Peoples tastes are what they are, and I dont think anyone has any right to tell anyone to change them. I hate getting orders for well done steaks, but Im not going to be one of those obnoxious chefs who refuses to cook them because I think I know better. I think trying to force him to change is kind of the same thing.

            That said, there is no reason he cant cook for himself either :)

        2. does he like the char taste, or is it because he grew up eating burnt food? I'm curious as to why he wants his food overcooked...

          1. maybe try using some liquid smoke in his foods?

            4 Replies
            1. re: darrentran87

              Hi! WOW! First post ever! You guys are fast!! Anyway, I've tried the liquid smoke and, I've realised (through a lot of sneaky experiments) that it's the appearance, not the flavour. I wish "crayola" made and edible selection of brown and black crayons so I could draw my own char marks on the food!!

              1. re: joseenatalie

                What about a kitchen blowtorch that is used for caramelizing creme brûlée?

                1. re: melpy

                  That was going to be my suggestion. This would do a lot while still retaining the real flavor of the foods.

                  1. re: melpy

                    PERFECT!! For you Melpy and others who suggested the kitchen blowtorch, THANKS a bunch!! I don't know why I did not think of it sooner!? You guys are awsome!! Happy Halloween!

              2. I have to say that, for one thing, if he were my SO, he wouldn't be so for long - lol! (Only kidding, sort of.)

                But really, as another poster here hinted at - have you been SO's long enough where you can sit him down & seriously ask him what the problem is? Right off the top of my head I can't help but feel he may have a germophobic thing going on wherein food isn't safe unless it's visibly cooked to death. This is something that he really needs to get over for a number of reasons. For one thing, cooking everything to death pretty much cooks all the good stuff (as in nutrients) out of many many foods. For another, enjoying entertainment options outside of your home just has to be minimal fun. What does he do when you're dining out at a restaurant or at the homes of family &/or friends?

                While it may sound over the top, if he can't make logical/lucid reasons for his wanting to eat mushy &/or burnt food, I'm thinking he may want to look into some therapy. While I'm always an advocate for "personal preference" in food choices, this sounds unnatural rather than just personal preference.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bacardi1

                  I agree with all you say. And as an ex-psychologist I think therapy may be in order. Both for him, and maybe couples therapy.

                2. If he actually LIKES the taste of charred food, then get yourself some smoked salt or liquid smoke-and only put it on his food. That stuff is fine in small quantities- very overpowering of char flavor otherwise...he is sure to love it. It will make everything taste grilled to death. Ha!

                  Maybe get a paint brush and some black food coloring........ :)

                  1. Cook and then run his under the broiler.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: melpy

                      I think this is a good option. Consider having a couple of items on hand to glaze his food to make a quick crisp crust (say that 3 times fast!) under the broiler.

                    2. If you cook things like chicken, salmon, steak, on a griddle pan, you can get the charred ridges without overcooking the meat, so maybe that might enough for him. Meat marinaded in something containing sugar, honey, fruit juice etc will blacken even quicker, but will definitely start to taste burned.

                      What about things marinaded in soy to make them look darker than they are?

                      I once tried to use potato printing and black food dye to put tire stripes on chicken to make "roadkill"; it didn't really work and the dye just smeared off during cooking.

                      1. by one of those small kitchen blowtorches. Then char up the outside of a properly cook item. Won't really cook the inside that much more. Especially when you get the timing down with practice. Personally I would make him cook his own food. I was in a relationship with someone with totally different food tastes once. Didn't last long.

                        1. Well, you could could separately for him. I wonder, was he the victim of food-borne illness and he thinks burning it will kill all bacteria? It's not ideal (nor the healthiest idea) to turn meat to charcoal.

                          To me, an uninformed poster, this sounds borderline OCD. Seems like you have three options, all already mentioned.

                          1) Cook separately (i.e., cook his stuff a lot longer)
                          2) Make him cook for himself
                          3) Have him cook for both of you, and don't eat....do a hunger strike of sorts....until he accommodates YOUR done-ness preference.

                          Which would you rather do?

                          1. Get a Foreman grill and put his dinner on it before serving.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chowser

                              Cooking separate meals would certainly wear on a relationship after a short time for me. If you are not compatible with each other food wise, cook for yourself and he can learn how to make himself happy. I know a couple in their late 60's who have been doing this in their retirement. She got tired of catering to his quirks and went on strike when they retired. He cooks for himself now. She makes what she likes. Seems to be working...

                            2. Get yourself a bottle of Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet. If you saute pieces of chicken or sausage, add a bit of this to the pan at the end of cooking, and it browns the food product like it's been seared. Seriously, it may be the answer to a few of his food issues.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: critter101

                                I will definitely also try this. THANKS!

                              2. Ahhh - but all of you people with hints on how to make his meat "look/taste" charred by adding "Liquid Smoke", etc., etc. are missing the point.

                                For one thing, eating "Liquid Smoke" on everything 365 days of the year is NOT healthy. Second - I don't see anyone mentioning the fact that this guy also insists on eating all of his vegetables cooked to the mush stage. "Liquid Smoke" ain't gonna solve that.

                                1. Well I don't have a tip but you might find some coping mechanisms or at least some humor in this Moth Radio story about one man's challenges living with a woman who likes her meat well done.
                                  It is the first segment of episode 1206

                                  1. Welcome josenatalie.

                                    I have a friend who spent some time in prison. He likes his meat cooked to death also (I don't ask why). He's a great guy and it's not hard to make sure he's got something to his taste when I cook for him.

                                    I don't agree with the idea of faking anything in his food, nor getting into therapy. My husband loves onions; I make sure his plate is served with much more than mine; he prefers much less marinara on pasta. Why not just live and let live?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                                      You are so the voice of reason! If the husband grew up in the wilds of the Amazon rainforest or on a beach in the South Pacific his preferences would be exotic. It's hard to unlearn food preferences that are from childhood or an unpleasant regimen not of your choosing. My former FIL liked over done everything and soupy spaghetti so his meal was adjusted before or after being cooked for the rest of the family. It only takes a few minutes to start his meal first or let it cook longer.

                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                        Hi Duchess! I, too, have a friend that was "on sabbatical" for a while. It pains me to this day to hear about that putrid mess inmates are served. I remember once he told me he was in the kitchen storage area and saw a box of expired - chicken marked "Siberia" as the point of origin. Bologna with holes in it for lunch all the time. Nothing but bad carbohydrates as the vast majority of the diet. Those are just the ones I remember right now. Knowing what they were expected to eat is just pitiful.

                                        Like you, I'm glad to take special care when cooking for him.

                                      2. just deal with it! we all have very different preferences. i like a lot of things under-cooked, so when my fiance cooks fish he just pulls my portion off and plates it, and then continues cooking his. i actually prefer my bacon almost-burnt, and so he leaves the last piece in the pan for a few minutes longer. for things that are baked and can't be seperated, we both just choose not to be that picky about it...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jamieeats

                                          I have used all of the suggestions that you and others have posted. It just really irks me at times like when I boil sausages for a LONG time before putting them on the barbecue but still get accused that they are not thouroughly cooked!! There's a lot of other examples but he's never convinced anything is really cooked thouroughly unless there's some char on it. (Think chicken cacciatore, cooked 3 times the recommended cooking time, then told it's not cooked enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) ARRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        2. just take out your portions and run his servings under the broiler. getting a grill pan may also help. just heat that up while dinner is cooking and slap your protein on the pan to make marks.

                                          don't add liquid smoke or anything else. am quite sure that stuff isn't healthy to eat, ever, never mind all the time.

                                          as far as veggies, i have become quite fond of veggie purees since i went low-carb. broccoli and cauliflower take very well to this method. just steam and then toss in the food pro with butter or olive oil. whizz to the consistency you like. add salt and herbs. if you're having potatoes, other veggies can be mixed in there similarly.

                                          if this isn't any kind of deal-breaker for you, than just do the best you can.

                                          1. Assuming you don't want to tell him he can get it his way at Burger King, I suggest a grill pan. Heat it very hot and it will put charred grill marks on the food. It sounds like the desire for charred food is purely psychological, anyway. The grill pan might keep you from having to overcook quite so much.

                                            1. if you have an outdoor space get a good grill that seals like a Weber. they're versatile and veggies can smoke and get as mushy as you like and show char marks just fine. I forage odd bits of hardwood to get it smokier.

                                              but then I was out on the deck with mine during DC's last hurricane (albeit far milder than Sandy)

                                              oh and sausages ought to be simmered in beer or wine and then thrown on the grill for the casing scorch (OK I'm covering my head before the shoes that will be lobbed my way hit their mark)

                                              1. Welcome to Chowhound! Just curious as to how long you have been dealing with this issue? I was reading everyones' thoughts and I definitely see how this could be an adverse issue over time. Sure, in the short run, cooking two different versions of entrees could solve your problem, but that isn't realistic to think of doing that for many years. When my Dad gets a nice NY Strip in a restaurant and he waitress asked how to prepare it, he replies "burnt." I grimace and sigh. When cooking for my Dad now, I compensate by making probably more Italian dishes or stir fry type dishes where the meat is prevalent, but it is in small enough portions to not have to taste like blocks of coal.

                                                I wonder if you could start working on expanding the repotoire of entrees to something you enjoy eating, but aren't dishes where he would even be able to see the char marks if he could (pizza; coq au vin; hearty stews? etc etc etc).

                                                Oh, and how about some creole/cajun dishes: gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp creole, red beans & rice. (link below and numerous other ones online). There is just no way he can gripe and reasonably complain about those dishes.

                                                Ohh - how about a nice roast chicken? If he can't appreciate a luscious roast hen* then I tend to agree with the others that if he doesn't like what you're preparing then perhaps he can cook for himself. (I like the Zuni method of roast chicken, link below)

                                                Keep up posted!