Are you ready for the quick lowdown on five cooking techniques? Number three may surprise you!
Technique 1: Slow Roast
This is an easy technique to get started with – you let the oven do the work! This method will extract the highest amount flavour possible out of veggies and gives an consistent finish on even large meat cuts.
Patience is your friend with Slow Roasting but it can transform tough ingredients. Tomatoes? Even average ones become a new proposition as low heat slowly removes water, concentrating their flavour. They’re perfect in a pasta salad or served with ricotta on toasted baguette slices.
Technique 2: Poach
Poaching and boiling are not one and the same! Poaching means cooking in a flavoured liquid at a low simmer. This results in a seasoned, moist dish which is impossible to mess up on. This technique creates more wiggle room to cook your recipe as you see fit, making it a smart choice for a plump chicken breast or fish fillets which can overcook at higher heat. The broth will flavour the dish while it cooks, so don’t go easy on seasoning. Green onions, whole spices and fresh herbs are great additions.
Technique 3: Blanch and Shock
The smartest method to maintain veggies’ nutrients and colours is by boiling them momentarily in blanch (water), then cool them quickly with a dip in an ice bath (shock). This practice also supports firming the fruit’s flesh while loosening its skin, making peeling (tomatoes for example) easier.
Plus it works for herbs too! Blanch and shock basil prior to making pesto for a unique sauce staying bright green even after being tossed with hot pasta or stored for several days.
Technique 4: Sear
A golden brown, crisp meat or fish exterior equals deep flavour while looking mouth-watering. Begin searing by patting down with a paper towel the meat or fish - moisture creates steam which effects browning. Preheat over high heat the pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, introduce the meat and let it cook unbothered. You’ll know it’s ready to flip over when a corner lifts easily. If it sticks to the pan, give it a minute. Thinner cuts like chicken can be cooked solely on the stovetop. Thicker cuts like steak will need to be transferred to the oven, either in the pan or on a sheet tray to cook medium-rare.
Technique 5: Macerate
This tenderising method works excellently with savory foods by using salt instead of sugar. Rubbing kale leaves with salt and lemon juice for example softens them for a raw salad. Macerating onions in a salt-and-vinegar bath relaxes their flavour while deepening colour, or mellowing a powerful pickle ideal on everything from burgers to devilled eggs.