Over the years I’ve developed a solid rule to live by in the kitchen. I call it the “Three Try Rule.” Simply put, it takes three tries at a recipe to get it right. If I hadn’t figured this out early on, I may have given up on cooking altogether. Luckily I’m pretty stubborn.

In practice, the rule embraces these truths:

  • The first time you try a new recipe it will turn out anywhere in the range from OK to a total disaster – it’s under-cooked, you missed a step, misread a measurement, or any combination of these or other results.
  • The second time, you learned something the first time around and made adjustments. This time it’s better, almost perfect, but something’s still not quite right – it’s overcooked this time, or over or under seasoned, missing brightness that a fresh herb could deliver, too acidic, a total mess on the plate or the like.
  • The third time, now this time is the charm. You’ve made your mistakes and learned from them, made adjustments, and this time you nailed it.

After that the recipe is part of your repertoire, but the progression rarely stops here. There’s always something you can add or subtract, or completely change-up in a recipe when you do it after the first three times, but you’ve learned so much about the ingredients and how they work together; the equipment you use and how they perform; the methods used and how they transform a meal into an event.

So no matter where you are in your journey in the kitchen, embrace the Three Try Rule for yourself, and simply don’t give up. Never give up. Anyone can be a good cook. No matter how bad a single meal goes, you’ll need to eat tomorrow and the next day, make the effort instead of making reservations. Maybe if you do, you may even become a great cook.

What’s your first rule of cooking? Share below by leaving a reply.