Monday, November 28, 2011

Culinary IQ: Monday, November 28, 2011; Classic Cooking Methods

How Should I Cook This?

This week I will start a discussion of the seven universally recognized methods of French cooking. Known as Les Cuissons. The seven classic methods are Rôtir (to roast), Griller (to grill), Poêler (to pan roast), Sauter (to pan fry), Braiser (to braise), Frire (to deep fry) and Pocher (to poach).

Each method is made up of three categories specific to that method. The three categories are type, humidity and color. 

Type refers to how the flavor is developed during the cooking process. Flavor can be developed by applying heat in any of three ways; by concentration, by expansion, or by mixed, a combination of concentration or expansion. There are two types of concentration, direct or indirect. Direct concentration refers to the exposure of a food to direct heat, such as an open flame. Indirect concentration is when the product is placed in a recipient or covered by a layer of fat. In contrast to concentration, expansion uses indirect heat that is usually created by a liquid or steam. Mixed is the application of both concentration and expansion. For example, a piece of meat may first be seared by using concentration and then finished by expansion using liquid or steam to finish cooking.

Humidity refers to the amount of liquid that is used during the cooking process. A method can use a dry environment or a humid environment. A dry environment is one in which no additional liquid is added or accumulated other than a small amount of fat such as butter or oil. Cooking is usually done with the pot or pan uncovered. A humid environment is created by using a small or large amount of liquid. Cooking is usually done with the pot or pan covered to maintain the humid environment and to control the rate of evaporation of the liquid. 

Color refers to the process of giving the product color through the cooking process. The degree of coloring depends on the cooking technique, the product, the intensity of the heat being applied, and the length of exposure. Products can take on three degrees of coloring, Brun (brown), Blond (blond) or Blanc (white).

Once you are familiar with the three categories of type, humidity and color you can choose the best cooking method to accomplish your desired goal when cooking. Tomorrow I will start discussing the seven classic methods of cooking.

Adapted from Cuisine Foundations, The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu, Publisher, Delmar Cengage Learning

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