The Submersion Techniques

The Submersion Techniques

Poaching, simmering and boiling are techniques that call for a food to be completely submerged in a liquid that is kept at a constant and moderate temperature. The distinction between them is a slight difference in cooking temperatures. At one end of the temperature range, from around 160 to 185oF (70o to 82oC), foods are considered "poached". There should be relatively little flavor lost from the food to the cooking liquid.

At the middle range, from 185 to 200oF (82 to 85oC), foods may be referred to as either simmered or "boiled". Simmering temperatures encourage a greater transfer of flavor from the food being prepared into the liquid, but it is important to monitor these temperatures in order to properly cook foods such as less-tender cuts of meat, stewing hens and some vegetables. This is the same approximate temperature necessary to make rich broths or stocks, where the goal is producing a richly flavored liquid.

Boiling, done either at or close to a true boil (212oF / 100oC), is best for grains, beans, pasta and some vegetables. Often, foods are referred to as boiled when it might be more accurate to say that they are simmered. Simmering and boiling will be considered together, however, since they are used with the same types of foods.

The major areas of concern with all of these methods are proper development of flavor, color, and texture in the finished dish, a proper balance between the main ingredients and any aromatic, seasoning or flavoring ingredients, and careful monitoring of cooking speed. As you become more comfortable with these skills, you will be able to produce perfectly poached, boiled and simmered foods that have rich, full, satisfying flavors, textures, aromas and colors.

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