Methods of Cooking
There are two classifications of cooking methods, moist heat and dry heat. There is also a third classification which is a combination of moist and dry heat methods. Moist Heat Cooking Methods
Moist heat cooking methods include boiling, simmering, poaching and steaming.
BoilingBoiling is cooking in liquid at 212 degrees at sea level. The liquid may be water, a seasoned liquid, wine, stock, or a combination. Boiling is usually reserved for certain vegetables and starches such as potatoes and pasta. Meats, fish and eggs outside the shell are never boiled. The higher temperature and agitation toughens protein and breaks up delicate foods.
SimmeringSimmering is cooking in a liquid just below the boiling point. Bubbles usually rise and break just below or at the surface. The temperature of the liquid is 185 degrees to 205 degrees.
PoachingPoaching is to cook in a liquid that is not actually bubbling at 165 to 180 degrees. It is usually used to cook delicate foods such as fish and eggs.
SteamingSteaming is cooking foods by exposing them directly to steam. It can be accomplished in a number of ways; on a rack above boiling liquid, by wrapping foods tightly, or in a covered pan allowing the food item to cook in its own steam. Steaming is a preferred method of cooking for vegetables since it minimizes the loss of nutrients and the vegetables can be cooked rapidly without agitation.
BlanchingTo cook food items briefly in boiling water is known as blanching. Foods are placed in cold water and brought to a boil or placed directly into boiling water. After a brief cooking time they are removed and plunged in icewater to stop the cooking process and to set color. Meats are blanched briefly to leach out impurities or salt, while vegetables are blanched to set color, remove harmful enzymes or to loosen skin for easier peeling.
Dry Heat Cooking Methods
Dry heat cooking methods include roasting, broiling, grilling, sauteing, frying, and baking.
RoastingRoasting is to cook foods by surrounding them in dry heat usually in an oven. It can also be accomplished by spit roasting over an open fire or on an outdoor grill. There are two schools of thought about roasting. One is that meats should be roasted first at a high temperature, usually 400 to 425 degrees, to brown the meat and seal in natural juices. After the meat is browned the temperature is reduced to 325 degrees to allow the meat to cook slowly. The other method is to cook meats by roasting at 325 degrees for the entire cooking period. The thought for each method is that it reduces shrinkage and gives a more moist finished product. You will find recipes that use both methods of roasting on our site. Baking is essentially the same as roasting however it is normally associated with baking bread or cakes.
BroilingBroiling is to cook foods at a high temperature with an overhead heat source. Sometimes the temperature may be as high as 1500 to 2000 degrees in some commercial broilers. The food usually rests on a grate four to six inches below the heat source and is usually only turned once during the cooking process
GrillingGrilling is done an on open grid or grate over a heat source. The heat source may be an electrical element, charcoal, or a gas flame. Pan broiling is done in a skillet or saute pan. It is done without the use of fat or the process is known as pan frying. NOTE: It should be noted that barbecuing is defined as cooking over charcoal or ashes and may be confused with some of the above-mentioned cooking methods.
SauteingSauteing is to cook quickly in a small amount of fat. The pan should be preheated. This will allow the food to be seared quickly. Small pieces of foods such as diced onions must be stirred or otherwise kept in motion during sauteing. Larger cuts of vegetables or slices of meat are usually only turned once.
FryingThere are two types of frying that we will discuss briefly. The first is pan frying. Pan frying is done in a moderate amount of fat over moderate heat. This method is used for larger pieces of food and usually takes longer than sauteing. Varying amounts of fats are used and the food may be turned more than once during cooking. Deep fat frying is to fry foods completely submerged in fat. Although it seems fairly simple, deep fat frying is not as easy as one would think. Foods must be fried at the correct temperature, 350 to 360 degrees to minimize fat absorption. Only small amounts of food should be fried at any one time. Larger amounts of food cause the temperature to drop drastically.
A NOTE: Blanching can also be done in fat. French fries may be partially cooked in deep fat and allowed to drain and cool before cooking completely done. If you follow these cooking methods, your results will always be great.