Dry-heat cooking refers to any cooking technique where the heat is transferred to the food item without using any moisture. Dry-heat cooking typically involves high temperatures, meaning 300°F or hotter. Some dry-heat cooking methods are sautéing, pan frying, roasting and baking. Note that the browning of food, as when bread is toasted, can only be achieved through dry-heat cooking. This browning in turn leads to the development of complex flavors and aromas that can’t be attained through moist-heat cooking techniques.
Sautéing is a basic cooking technique important to many recipes. To sauté means to cook food quickly in a minimal amount of fat over relatively high heat. The word comes from the French verb sauter, which means “to jump,” and describes not only how food reacts when placed in a hot pan but also the method of tossing the food in the pan. The term also refers to cooking tender cuts of meat (such as chicken breasts, scaloppine, or filet mignon) in a small amount of fat over moderately high heat without frequent stirring―just flipping it over when one side is browned. This cooking method browns the vegetables, which then intensifies the flavor of the soup or soup. For example, soups and stews almost always begin with sautéed aromatics. It keeps the flavor vivid and rich, which can even be achieved faster than other cooking methods.
Sautéing requires a very hot pan. When sautéing, it’s important to heat the pan for a minute, then add a small amount of fat and let the fat get hot as well, before adding the food to the pan. Use either a skillet (a wide pan with sloped sides) or sauté pan (a wide pan with straight sides) for this technique. Both have a large surface area, so food is less likely to become overcrowded. The pan must stay hot in order to achieve the desired browning of the food. Too much food in the pan dissipates the heat, causing the food to steam or boil rather than sauté. Choose a pan with a dense bottom that evenly distributes heat. Nonstick, anodized aluminum, and stainless steel options work well. Sautéing is the preferred way of dry heat cooking, because it’s a quick process and enhances the flavor.
Another method of dry heat cooking is roasting. Roasting may be one of the easiest cooking techniques. Foods are simply prepared―chickens trussed, tenderloins and hams rubbed with seasonings, vegetables cut up―and then they cook, mostly hands-free, until they emerge with browned, hearty flavors.Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. It is a dry cooking technique, as opposed to wet techniques like braising, stewing, or steaming. Dry, hot air surrounds the food, cooking it evenly on all sides. Depending on the food you’re preparing, you can roast at low, moderate, or high temperatures.Roasting at lower temperatures, between 200°F and 300°F, for longer periods of time, can often produce a more tender, juicier roast, but sacrifices the surface browning which is the source of so much flavor. Conversely,high-temperature roasting can result in a drier roast.
Roasting requires a pan. A heavy roasting pan with a rack is a good investment for your kitchen. A roasting pan has low sides, allowing more of the oven’s heat to make contact with the food. Choose a heavy pan, as it will distribute heat evenly and isn’t as likely to burn pan drippings. A rack is helpful to suspend food that produces a lot of drippings (whole poultry or fatty roasts, for example) out of the liquid. If you don’t have a rack, place a wire cooling rack in the pan. You can also use a broiler pan for roasting, but these pans are shallow, so be careful not to spill hot drippings out of the pan. All meat should rest for 10 to 20 minutes after it’s removed from the oven. Larger cuts―a standing rib roast, for example―retain enough internal heat so that they continue to cook out of the oven, up to an added 10 degrees or so. Smaller cuts like pork tenderloins do not have enough mass to continue cooking by more than a couple of degrees. But the main reason meat should rest is to allow the juices to redistribute. If you slice into a roast chicken or beef roast immediately upon pulling it out of the oven, all the juices would pour out onto the platter, and the resulting meat would be dry. Most people prefer roasting because it allows for more flavor in your meat of choice, and because it doesn’t require much work.
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