Kitchen Essentials – Cooking MethodsBy
Cooking methods vary in their use of heat, moisture and time. The method chosen greatly affects the end result. Once you learn these fundamental techniques, you will be able to determine which method is appropriate to use for different ingredients. You’ll also have a great foundation for success when cooking new recipes or creating your own.
Bake. Cooking in the oven at less than 400° and usually with liquid surrounding the ingredients, like in a casserole.
Boil. Fill pot 1/2 to 2/3 way with water, then bring to a boil. Add ingredients and check doneness by inserting a fork into vegetable. Do not boil for too long or you will lose flavor and nutrients. Hint: you’ve boiled for too long if the water changes color.
Braise. Basically searing ingredients, then simmering at a low temperature for a long time. Similar to stewing, but stewing doesn’t involve searing.
Brine. Soaking meat or poultry in salted water (sometimes with added sugar).
Broil. Similar to grilling, only in the oven. Keep food 2-6 inches away from the broiler. Some ovens require the door to be left open or else they start smoking!
Grill, direct heat. Cooking directly over open flames (usually) with the grill open. Perfect for thinner meats of an inch or less.
Grill, indirect heat. Cooking indirectly over open flames, (usually) with the lid shut. Perfect for foods over 1-inch in thickness.
Panfry. Basically sauteing, but with more fat (enough to coat food). This helps food develop a nice crust or crispy texture. Works best with thin slices.
Poach. Similar to boiling, but usually with eggs, meats or fish instead of vegetables.
Sauté. Cooking food in fat like coconut oil or butter (enough to coat skillet) over medium-high heat.
Sear. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Once warm, add oil or fat to coat the bottom of the skillet. Then, add meat and brown on all sides until nicely browned. Transfer food to the oven to finish cooking.
Simmer. When liquid gently bubbles. Can be done on the stove top, in a crock pot or placed in the oven at 300° or lower.
Steam. Almost as fast as boiling and saves nutrients too. Add steamer to a pot, fill water to the bottom of the steamer, cover and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and cook uncovered or covered. If you choose uncovered, stir the vegetables once or twice to ensure even cooking.
Stir-fry. Much like sautéing, but with constant stirring. Make sure the skillet gets nice and hot before adding ingredients. It’s a very quick process!
Roast. Cooking in the oven at a higher temperature (400° or higher) in dry heat.