Mastering an assortment of cooking techniques is a key to becoming a great chef, whether you’re an amateur cooking at home or a professional aspiring to earn a Michelin star. By understanding the various ways to prepare and cook food, cooks can work with a variety of ingredients and kitchen equipment en route to creating delicious meals.
Cooking comes down to three basic methods: dry heat, moist heat and combination cooking. Here’s a look at some popular ways to cook a meal.
• Broiling: Broiling involves cooking food directly below dry heat. It produces a crispy, crunchy outer layer on the food.
• Roasting: Another dry heat cooking method, roasting involves cooking food in an oven at high temperatures. Roasting is best for large cuts of meat or poultry that are tender and have internal or surface fats to keep them moist.
• Grilling: Dry heat comes from the bottom when grilling over an open flame. Foods are cooked quickly while grilling.
• Searing: During searing, one browns food, usually meat, on all sides using high heat to give the meat color and flavor. Then the meat is finished utilizing another technique, typically roasting.
• Baking: Baking utilizes indirect heat to surround foods and cook from all sides. It is similar to roasting, but the temperature tends to be lower than with roasting. Roasting is used on vegetables, meats and other foods. However, baking is reserved for breads and cakes, among other things.
• Sautéing: When you sauté, foods are cooked quickly over a burner in a shallow pan, using a small amount of fat to coat food for even browning. Sauté is a French term for “jump.” Since food cooks quickly, they must be tossed and stirred frequently to prevent burning.
• Poaching: This is a gentle method of cooking in which foods are submerged in liquids in a certain temperature range. The low heat is ideal for delicate items, preserving the flavor and moisture of the food without using fat or oil.
• Stewing: Stewing is ideal for cooks who want to create very tender meats and vegetables. During stewing, food is cooked slowly in liquid over low heat. This helps to tenderize tough cuts of meat.
• Pan-frying: Similar to sautéing, pan-frying involves cooking food that may have coating or breading in a small amount of hot oil.
• Deep-frying: Deep-frying submerges foods in very hot oil to cook it quickly and crisp it up.
• Braising: Like stewing, braising utilizes moisture. To braise foods, place them in small amounts of liquid in a tightly covered pan on the stove or in the oven.
Practicing various cooking methods can help amateur chefs expand their culinary skill sets.