Methods of Cookery

Methods of Cooking

Ever wondered what are the different ways in which you can cook? Confused about which alternative to choose while cooking? Ever wondered when reading a recipe what are these different unknown terms like Brazing or Pot roasting do? Well think no more read on to find out what do these terms mean and where can you use them.

A method of cooking involved methods of cookery which is an art that involves getting the food cooked through different stages to get the desired results. Following are some of the ways in which the foods are cooked:

  1. Boiling
  2. Poaching
  3. Steaming
  4. Stewing
  5. Braising
  6. Pot Roasting
  7. Roasting
  8. Baking
  9. Grilling
  10. Frying (deep and shallow)
  11. Paper Bag
  12. Microwave


Boiling - Whole Nine Yards
Boiling – Whole Nine Yards

This is cooking in a liquid, usually water or stock.

Meat and Poultry: Boiling is restricted to the first few minutes in order to seal the pores, thus helping to retain the natural juices. After this gentle boiling must take place, otherwise known as simmering. Rapid boiling or over-cooking causes the protein to harden and connective tissues holding the meat fibers together to dissolve. Only just sufficient liquid should cover the article to be cooked. To retain the flavor in the joint, plunge into a boiling liquid and allow to reboil and then simmer.  If a well-flavored stock is required, start slowly in cold water, then bring to the boil and simmer. Salted or pickled meats should always be started in cold water.

No exact rules can be given as to the time required to boil the meat and poultry as age, size and quality must be allowed for.

Vegetables: Vegetables grown above the ground are cooked in boiling salted water; vegetables grown below the ground are started in cold salted water; with the exception of new potatoes. When cooking vegetables such as turnips and cauliflower boiling should be gentle otherwise the cellulose breaks down and the vegetables becomes mashed.

Fish: Whole or sliced fish are covered with liquid and allowed to boil very gently.


Poaching fresh eggs in a pan of water.
Poaching fresh eggs in a pan of water.

Poaching means cooking slowly in a minimum amount of liquid which should never be allowed to boil, but which should reach a degree of heat as near as possible to boiling point (about 160–180 °F (71–82 °C). It is applied to fish and fruit, but one exception is poached eggs.


Steaming - Whole Nine Yards
Steaming – Whole Nine Yards

This is cooking in moist heat by steam either:

  • By placing the article in a perforated container or on a covered plate over a saucepan of water; or
  • In a steamer with minimum pressure.

Vegetables: Certain vegetables are sometimes steamed, e.g. potatoes (particularly when required for sauté potatoes) and beetroot.

Puddings: These must be protected with greaseproof paper or foil and if possible a cloth or foil, to prevent water getting into the pudding.


Stewing - Whole Nine Yards
Stewing – Whole Nine Yards

Stewing is gentle simmering in the smallest quantity of water, stock or sauce. The food is always cut up, and both the liquid and the food are served together.

This method has economical and nutritional advantages, as it will render tender and palatable the coarser, older and cheaper types of poultry or meat which would be unsuitable for grilling or roasting. The success of cooking such food depends on not allowing the liquid to reach too high a temperature. In the slow process of cooking by gentle heat the connected tissues are converted into gelatin so that the meat fibers fall apart easily and become digestible. The protein is gooey without being overhardened and the soluble nutrients and the flavors pass into the liquid, all of which is served.


Braising - Whole Nine Yards
Braising – Whole Nine Yards

This is a combination of roasting and stewing in a pan with a tight-fitting lid to prevent evaporation so that the food can retain its juices together with the articles added for flavoring e.g. bacon, ham, vegetables, herbs etc..

Meat: The meat should be sealed by browning on all sides, placed on a lightly-fried bed of roots, and the stock two-thirds of the way up the joint, and flavoring then added.

It is covered with a lid and then cooked in the oven until the meat is very tender. If the joint is to be served whole, the lid should be removed approximately after 45 minutes, the joint is then frequently basted in order to glaze it. Certain joints, e.g. venison and beef, are sometimes marinated with red wine, vegetables and herbs for few hours.

Vegetables: Certain vegetables are frequently braised, e.g. celery, cabbage, lettuce and onions.

Pot Roasting

Pot Roasting - Whole Nine Yards
Pot Roasting – Whole Nine Yards

This cooking is done in a covered casserole or pan, using butter for bringing flavors together. Only good quality meat and poultry are used in this way. The chief advantage of this process is that it retains most of the flavors. After the joint is removed the vegetables and juices are used with a good stock to form basis of the accompanying sauce or gravy.


Roasting - Whole Nine Yards
Roasting – Whole Nine Yards
  1. Split Roasting: In this method the cooking is done by direct heat to the article. Top quality meat is required for this process. It is the original form of roasting but due to its difficult nature people prefer oven roasting in its place.
  • Oven Roasting: This roasting is done with the help of an oven. Again, for this process top quality meat or vegetables are required.


Baking - Whole Nine Yards
Baking – Whole Nine Yards

This is a method is also called as dry cooking. The cooking is done by dry heat in the oven. Some articles that can be cooked by this method are Breads, Cakes, Pastry and Potatoes.

Grilling or Broiling

 Grilling - Whole Nine Yards
Grilling – Whole Nine Yards
  1. Over heat
  2. Under heat
  3. Between heat
  1. Overheat Grill: This is cooking on greased grill bars, with the aid of fat over direct heat. Only first-class cuts of meat and poultry and certain fish may be used. The grill bars which may be heated by charcoal, gas, or electricity should be made hot, brushed with oil to prevent the food sticking. The bars should char the article from both sides giving distinctive lines and flavor of grilling.
  • Under heat: This is cooking on grill bars or on trays under direct heat. Steak, chops etc. may be cooked on bars but fish, tomatoes, bacon and mushrooms are usually cooked on trays.
  • Between heat: This is grilling between electrically – heated grill bars and is usually applied to meat.


Frying - Whole Nine Yards
Frying – Whole Nine Yards

This is cooking in fat, either shallow or deep.

  1. Shallow frying is cooking in shallow fat in a frying or sauté pan, or on a griddle plate. Any fats or oils may be used and as a general rule the presentation side of the dish should always be fried first. Poultry, meats, fish, vegetables and pancakes are some of the food items which are cooked in this way.
  2. Deep-frying: This is cooking in deep clarified fat. It is important to select a kind of fat which can be raised to a high temperature without burning. Olive oil is the best for this purpose as it does not burn easy, but because of its high price it is uneconomical. People generally use a good quality vegetable oil.

Some points to remember while frying:

  1. Oil should never be more than half to three quarters full
  2. Fat should NOT be allowed to smoke, as this is a sign of burning.
  3. The normal frying temperature is between 175 degree to 195 degree (350 and 380 F) and this is indicated by a slight haze rising from the fat.
  4. Do not fry too much food at one time.
  5. Allow the fat to recover its heat before adding the next batch of food.
  6. A frying basket must be handy as a safety precaution.
  7. Any wet foods like potatoes should always be well dried before being fried.
  8. Fat should always be strained after use.

Microwave Cooking

Microwave Cooking - Whole Nine Yards
Microwave Cooking – Whole Nine Yards

Microwave is a method of cooking and heating food by using high-frequency power. The energy used is the same as that which carries television from the transmitter to the receiver but is at a higher frequency.

The waves disturb the molecules or particles of food and agitate them, thus causing friction which has the effect of cooking the whole of food from inside, whereas in traditional method of cooking the heat enters the food from outside. Food cooked in microwave need no fat or water and is placed in a glass, earthenware, plastic or paper container before being put in the oven. Metal is not used as microwaves are reflected by it.

The advantage of microwave cooking is its speed. For e.g.: 1.5kg of chicken takes approximately seven minutes of cooking time depending on the quality of the meat.

When using microwave certain factors should be considered:

  1. The food is not colored, e.g.: with the cooking of a small chicken the outside of the bird would not be colored. However, if using a microwave/convection oven coloration does occur because the equipment includes traditional heating elements.
  2. The thickness of the item to be cooked is related to the cooking time, e.g. penetration of the microwaves into the food is short distance (7.5 cm). A chicken would cook satisfactorily because of the bone structure whereas a thick item food such as the leg of the lamb would not cook through satisfactorily.
  • Uneven shaped items cook unevenly. E.g.: a baked potato cooks well, but the leg of a lamb would not because of its irregular shape.
  • Metal containers of any kind, including silver foil containers must not be put into the oven because the magnetron will be damaged by the reflected rays.
  • Apart from cooking foods. The microwave oven is commonly used for re-heating frozen cooked foods.

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