You've Been Assembling Your Hard-Shell Tacos All Wrong

ahirao_photo/iStock via Getty Images
ahirao_photo/iStock via Getty Images

They may not be the most traditional Mexican dish, but hard taco shells have become a staple of many families' taco nights. Hard-shell tacos pack the same corn flavor as classic tortillas but with the added crispy crunch of a fried chip. They do, however, have one major drawback: Taco shells crack and break apart easily, making an already messy meal even messier. If you want to keep more of your taco filling in your taco and less of it in your lap, try this food hack spotted by Lifehacker.

Reddit user u/hyteck9 recently suggested a simple-but-brilliant idea for reinforcing the structural integrity of your taco shell using a common topping: When assembling a hard-shell taco, most people start with the meat first, add the veggies second, and then top the whole thing with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.

It may not look as pretty, but you can improve your meal by moving the order around slightly. Before adding anything else, drop the cheese into the bottom of the shell. Now, when you add the ground beef or whatever filling you chose, that cheese will melt and act as a sort of glue for weakest part of the tortilla.

You can also guarantee the cheese gets nice and melty by popping the shell in the oven at 350℉ for a few minutes after applying the cheese. Warming it in the oven has the added effect of making the tortilla more pliable and less brittle, which reduces the chances of it shattering in your hands.

Many common cooking problems can be solved with a quick hack. Here are some more tips and techniques that can improve your kitchen skills.

[h/t Lifehacker]

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

iStock
iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

The Reason You Should Never Rinse a Turkey

jax10289/iStock via Getty Images
jax10289/iStock via Getty Images

There are many misconceptions surrounding your Thanksgiving turkey, but none is more dangerous than the turkey-washing myth. Raw poultry can contain dangerous microbes like Salmonella, and it's not uncommon for home cooks to rinse their meat under cool water in an effort to wash away these pathogens. The intention may be admirable, but this is a worse turkey sin than overcooking your bird or carving it before letting it rest. According to AOL, rinsing a raw turkey with water is more likely to make you and your dinner guests sick than not cleaning it at all.

When you wash a turkey in the sink, there's no guarantee that all of the nasty stuff on the outside of it is going down the drain. In fact, the only thing rinsing does is spread potentially harmful microbes around. In addition to getting bacteria on you hands and clothes, rinsing can contaminate countertops, sink handles, and even the surrounding air.

There are three main ways to lower your chances of contracting Salmonella when dealing with raw turkey: Thaw your bird in the fridge, minimize contact with it before it goes into the oven, and give it plenty of time to cook once it's in there. For the second part, that means setting aside time to pat your turkey dry, remove the excess fat and skin, and season it without handling anything else. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash your hands frequently and wash the plates, knives, and other tools that touched the turkey before using them again. You should also cook your stuffing outside the turkey rather than shoving it inside the cavity and creating a Salmonella bomb.

Once the safety aspect is taken care of, you can focus on making your turkey taste as delicious as possible. Here are some tips from professional chefs on making your starring dish shine this Thanksgiving.

[h/t AOL]

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