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I’ve been a Blue Apron subscriber for 6 months now, and while I wasn’t a terrible cook to begin with, I wasn’t very experienced, and made very boring choices.

My go-to recipe up until then was either:

  • Ground beef tacos, seasoned with a packet mix, and with a side of Rosarito refried beans, and a box of mexican rice
  • Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner.  I would add a can of peas to it sometimes, to make it slightly less boring.
  • Salmon steak fried in a pan, and served with linguini and garlic aioli, and a spinach salad.

Now, I know how to properly blanch fresh peas, and can fry a delicious catfish in my cast iron pans.

Catfish and lentils

Catfish and lentils

But, now armed with my newfound cooking knowledge, I have some serious issues with Blue Apron recipes.

The first problem: cooking temperatures.

Nearly all of their recipes instruct you to heat up a pan at medium-high setting with 2 tsp of olive oil.

No.

This is what happens when I cook something higher than medium setting on my electric stove.

That's burned

That fish is burned

So, the first thing I adjusted was every instruction that said medium-high to medium or lower. And medium is adjusted to medium low. I don’t know if it’s because my stove is electric, but this is what I had to do to not burn everything, and set off the smoke detector.

Am I alone with this result?

I also discovered an odd smell whenever I would heat the pan at medium-high for a couple of minutes. Turns out that cheap aluminum pans coated with teflon will heat up too high for the coating to tolerate within 2 minutes, and the coating will begin to break down, releasing toxic gases into your kitchen.

Yeah, this is really bad.

So, I began to cycle out my cheap pans, and replaced them with cast iron and stainless steel cookware. This made a world of difference in the taste of the food, and how well it cooked. Cast iron pans heat very evenly and hold their temperature well.  Everything tastes so much better now. I was very surprised and happy with the result.

The second problem: Constant salting for taste.

I had to learn to skip half of the instructions to “salt and pepper to taste”, otherwise the meal was just salt.

Example:

This recipe is for Enchiladas Rojas.

Take a look at step 5:

In the pan used to brown the mushrooms, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion, garlic and remaining spice blend; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the tomato sauce; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. To the pot of cooked rice and vegetables, add half the sauce, half the cheese, the juice of all 4 lime wedges and all but a pinch of the cilantro. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wow, look at how many times they want you to add salt and pepper. Four times. Four times. And that’s just in step 5.  Plus the can of tomato sauce has 260mg of salt in it already. There are a lot of other steps, and most of them also instruct to salt and pepper too. That’s too much salt for me.

The third problem: Place it on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, then toss it all over your kitchen

They always want you to “drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat” things AFTER you’ve laid them out on a sheet pan.

Here is a recipe saying to do exactly that in step two

Place the sweet potato on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast 24 to 26 minutes, or until browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.

Wait, what? Put it on a pan, then toss it around? That sounds like a plan to fling sliced oily sweet potatoes all over my kitchen. Why not put the part that says “Place the sweet potato on a sheet pan” after the instruction to toss? Just leave the sliced sweet potato in a bowl, drizzle the oil on it, season it, and then just toss in the bowl with some salad tongs or use your hands. Am I the only one who reads these recipe instructions quite literally? I can’t be the only one. The prep instructions are written in a very specific way, and are meant to be followed literally, but the toss thing on a pan is just dumb.

All of their recipes instruct you to drizzle something with oil, season, then toss to coat after they tell you to lay it out on a sheet pan. Every time.

My other complaints are pretty minor after that. I don’t like kale, and the lemon shallot vinaigrette for salads. And I wish I could just exclude chicken from my choices without being forced to exclude beef and pork too.  Plus the packaging waste is a bit much.

Other than my issues noted above, I’m really quite happy with the price and the quality of the meat and produce they send me. I’ve become a better cook by using their service.

Now if only they would fix their directions! Or at least use an electric range in their test kitchen. And swap out that kale for spinach.

 ETA: Looks like Jacques Pepin says changing things up is expected. I’m ok with that, and do that for most of these recipes now, but new cooks will probably continue to burn things and fling oiled vegetables around their kitchens until BA adjusts their directions. 

 ETA part 2: Even Tramontina says no cooking higher than a medium setting

  

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