Methods of Cooking

There are numerous ways of cooking food. The best method will depend on the food that is to be cooked and the result desired.

The various methods of cooking divide themselves into three groups: dry heat, moist heat and hot fat.

Cooking with Dry Heat

Cooking with dry heat includes broiling, pan broiling, roasting and baking:

  • Broiling: The cooking process known as broiling consists of exposing food directly to the source of heat, such as cooking over or before a clear bed of coals or a gas flame. The aim in broiling is to retain the juices of food and develop flavor. As it is a quick method, foods that are not tender, such as tough meats, should not be broiled.
  • Pan Broiling: Pan broiling is an adaptation of the broiling method where food is cooked in a sizzling-hot pan on top of the stove. In this process the surfaces of the food are quickly seared, after which it is turned frequently and cooked more slowly until done. The object of pan broiling is the same as that of broiling, and it is resorted to when fire is not in the right condition for broiling.
  • Roasting: The term “roasting” is almost universally applied to the action of both hot air and radiant heat. However, much of what is called roasting is actually baking. Foods cooked in the oven of an ordinary coal or gas range are really baked, although they are said to be roasted. Thick, compact cuts of meat are usually selected for roasting.
  • Baking: Baking is cooking in a heated oven at temperatures ranging from 300?F to 500?F. Starchy foods, such as bread, cakes and pastry, are nearly always baked. Other foods, such as meats, fish and vegetables are being subjected to this method of cooking.

Cooking with Moist Heat

The methods of cooking with moist heat, or with water, are boiling, simmering, steaming, dry steaming and braising.

  • Boiling: Boiling involves cooking foods in boiling water, and it has various effects on foods. It toughens the albumin in eggs, toughens the fiber and dissolves the connective tissues in meat, softens the cellulose in cereals, vegetables and fruits and dissolves other substances in many foods. Foods boiled rapidly in water have a tendency to lose their shape and are reduced to small pieces if allowed to boil long enough.
  • Simmering or Stewing: The cooking process known as simmering, or stewing, is a modification of boiling. By this method, food is cooked in water at a temperature below the boiling point. Tough cuts of meat and old fowl can be made tender and tasty by this method, as it tends to soften the fiber and develop an excellent flavor. Tough vegetables, too, can be cooked tender by the simmering process.
  • Steaming: Steaming is the cooking of food by the application of steam. In this cooking process, the food is put into a steamer, which is a cooking utensil that consists of a vessel with a perforated bottom that is placed over a vessel containing water. As the water boils, steam rises and cooks the food in the upper, or perforated, vessel.Steaming is preferable to boiling in some cases, because there is no loss of mineral salts or food substances, and flavor is retained. Vegetables prepared in this way prove very palatable.
  • Dry Steaming: Cooking foods in a vessel that is suspended in another one containing boiling water constitutes the cooking method known as dry steaming. The food placed in the suspended, or inner, vessel does not reach the boiling point, but is cooked by the transfer of heat from the water in the outside, or lower, vessel. Cereals, custards and milk are effectively heated using this method.
  • Braising: Cooking meat in an oven in a closed pan with a small quantity of water constitutes braising. The meat is placed on a rack above water, in which sliced vegetables or herbs are placed. In this process the meat actually cooks in the flavored steam. Double roasting pans are in fact braising pans when they are properly used.

Cooking with Hot Fat

The various methods of cooking with hot fat are frying, sauting and fricasseeing:

  • Frying: Frying is cooking food in fat at a temperature of 350?F to 400?F. Vegetable oils, such as cottonseed oils, combinations of coconut and cottonseed oils and nut oils are preferable to lards and other animal fats, because they do not burn as easily. Foods cooked in deep fat will not absorb the fat nor become greasy if they are properly prepared, quickly fried and well-drained on paper that will absorb any extra fat.
  • Sauting: Browning food first on one side and then on the other in a small quantity of fat is termed sauting. In this cooking process, the fat is placed in a shallow pan, and when it is sufficiently hot, the food is put into it. Foods to be sauted are usually sliced thin or cut into small pieces and turned frequently during cooking.
  • Fricasseeing: A combination of sauting and stewing results in the cooking process known as fricasseeing. This process is used in preparing such foods as chicken, veal or game, but it is more frequently employed for cooking fowl. In fricasseeing, the meat to be cooked is cut into pieces and sauted either before or after stewing; then it is served with a white or a brown sauce.

Resources

Woman”s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences (2006). Woman”s Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from the Project Gutenberg eBook Website: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext06/8loc110h.htm#METHODS_OF_COOKING.