Savory Pork Stew – Braised first and then cooked in a delicious wine sauce
Cooking Methods You Need To Know
Do you feel that cooking is a science and art? Cooking, to many people, is just about throwing ingredients into a pot or pan and in a few minutes, they are munching away. Even worse to some people it can mean just opening a box and throwing a container into the microwave.
Most individuals rarely think of the techniques involved that transform you food into amazing, mouth-watering dishes. Thats why knowing some basic cooking methods will put you far ahead of the everyday home chef. So let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most used cooking methods and techniques that will transform your cooking experience.
Preparation of Ingredients
The preparation of the ingredients is an art that every home chef ought to master. Different ingredients will even call for different types of cutting styles.
Some ingredients require dicing, shredding, rough, as well as fine chopping. The process can take a long time and getting it right will dictate whether you are struggling through preparing the meal or actually enjoying the process.
During the preparation period, basic knife skills are necessary to get the right chop of the right size. These skills include fine slicing, shearing, scoring, et al. Some of these skills can be a bit tricky but you do want to learn the proper technique for faster, safer cooking.
There are many different cooking methods, but to keep it simple we can group the main cooking methods into three sub-categories: Moist heat, dry heat, and a combination of the two. To attain the desired results for whatever you are cooking, you have to choose the right method of cooking.
Here are the basic cooking methods you need to know.
Dry Heat Cooking Method
This method requires very little time, and you will have steaming, delicious food in a few minutes. Professional chefs at The Daily Meal, suggest that the ingredients that will cook best using this method are those that are thin, small and are tender even before cooking.
Chefs use the dry heat method when roasting vegetables and nuts, sautéing ground meat, pan-frying, searing, baking, grilling, stir-frying, et al. This method adds a flavor and crispness through caramelization of the surface sugar of the ingredients without tenderizing.
Moist Heat Method
On the other end of the spectrum, moist heat method incorporates the use of stock or water to transfer heat to the ingredients. This method preserves and adds moisture to the food during the cooking process, and it is appropriate for ingredients that need softening especially through boiling, braising, making stews, pot roast, steaming broccoli, simmering, deep-frying.
This is the most basic method of cooking as well as the fastest after those long days at work. It doesn’t require as much constant attention since you are usually not risking burning the food.
Combination of Dry and Moist Heat Methods
This method can take up a lot more time, and it is the best method for recipes that require the slow cooking of ingredients. Since a lot of time goes into the cooking process, this method breaks down and tenderizes tough cuts of meat and it’s the method used when doing things like braising a pork shoulder.
Cooking Methods and Techniques
There are different ways to get flavors from an ingredient.
Poaching Eggs: – It is common to have your eggs fried, boiled or scrambled. Those are definitely the most common but have you tried poaching them? This requires you add a dash of vinegar to simmering water, crack an egg onto a saucer, and gently dip the egg into the water, white first. Or better yet, get yourself an egg poaching pan and learn how to make the best ever poached eggs!
Sautéing: – This is a cooking technique that involves cooking ingredients like onions, or vegetables in a shallow layer of oil or fat over medium-high heat. The goal of sautéing is to tenderize the ingredients.
Searing: – This method involves cooking ingredients with a minimal amount of oil on a stovetop using high heat. The method gives the ingredients like meat a brown and caramelized outside and a tender inside. Popular ingredients that require searing include fish, and beef.
Simmering: – This is a perfect example of moist heat cooking method; water or stock should cover the ingredients in this method. Simmering requires low heat until the ingredients are well done.
Broiling: – This takes place in an oven. The heat emanates from the top, and it is a very quick method of cooking, so be careful not to burn the food. The mouthwatering appearance of lasagna is a result of broiling.
Blanching: – This technique involves partially cooking the ingredients, then submerging them in an ice-cold bath to stop further cooking. For hard vegetables like broccoli and asparagus, blanching will be a right choice.
Stewing: – First sear or sauté then cook the ingredients in water or stock enough to cover the ingredients. Unlike in braising, stewing uses smaller ingredients like diced vegetables and meats.
Braising: – Just like stewing, you kick off with searing or sautéing or searing the ingredient, then cooking the ingredients in water or stock for a long time. The process tenderizes the tough cuts of meat like pork shoulders and poultry legs.
Timing is another important aspect of any cooking method, and it is best to adhere to how long each of the above methods takes to get the desired results.
The above methods also call for different cooking utensils. Even after you master the different cooking styles it’s still best to consult your recipe to make sure you aren’t over/under cooking or using the wrong method for the particular dish.
With the basic cooking methods above, it will be easier to pair the ingredients to the type of method you are using. By choosing the correct cooking methods, you will bring out the best texture, flavor, and appearance of your dishes.
As stated earlier cooking is a science and art. You won’t master it over night, but don’t be afraid to take chances and try some new things. Remember cooking can and should be fun!