Have you ever heard of sautéing a cake or grilling french fries? How about steaming a leg of lamb or simmering cookies? We sure haven’t — and we know we’re not alone. If these techniques sound a little odd to you, too, it’s because there are certain cooking methods that coordinate with specific foods. In order to get the desired outcome for whatever you’re making, you first have to choose the right way to cook it — and we’ll show you how.
Choosing the correct cooking method not only impacts the final product, but also affects the texture, appearance, and flavor of the dish. It’s the slow-cooking of ribs that makes them fall-off-the-bone tender, and the hot deep-frying oil that gives donuts a crispy, golden brown exterior and soft, doughy middle. The Cook editors at The Daily Meal want to make sure that you get the most delicious final product out of your cooking, so we’ve designed a cheat sheet of the most common cooking methods and how to perfect them.
Cooking methods can be broken down into three sub-categories: dry heat, moist heat, and a combination of the two. The dry-heat method, which is a relatively quick process, adds crispness and flavor, but doesn’t tenderize. Ingredients cooked this way are small, thin, and already tender — think sautéing ground meat and roasting vegetables. The moist-heat cooking method involves cooking with water or stock, like poaching fish and steaming broccoli. The third category is a combination of the two and often uses long, slow-cooking periods to tenderize and break down tough cuts of meat, like braising pork shoulder.
Whether you’re preparing a feast far in advance or whipping up a quick dinner, once you’ve mastered these basic cooking methods, it will be easy to pair ingredients with their appropriate cooking techniques. Take a look at our how-to guide to learn about the cooking methods you need to know to prepare for your next meal.
Emily Jacobs is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes