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Moist-Heat Cooking Techniques

Moist-Heat Cooking Techniques

The moist-heat techniques - steaming, poaching, simmering, and boiling - result in products that have a distinctly different flavor, texture and appearance from those prepared with dry-heat methods. The foods prepared by these methods are generally subtly flavored with a simple, straightforward appeal. These techniques typically require the use of naturally tender meats, poultry or fish. The proper selection of a flavorful liquid is an important point for many preparations. Careful monitoring of cooking temperatures and times and the ability to determine doneness are also critical to a mastery of moist-heat methods.

The combination method - stewing and braising - are so known because foods are usually given a preliminary preparation step, such as the initial searing of a pot roast or blanching of veal for a blanquette. A properly prepared braise or stew has a complexity and flavor concentration that is simply not possible with other cooking techniques. The dish's finished consistency should be smooth, suave and meltingly tender, because of the slow cooking needed to soften the main item's tough connective tissues. Braising and stewing are frequently regarded as "peasant" techniques, often associated with regional or home-style cooking.

The successful execution of these techniques depends, as do all cookery methods, on the proper choice of main ingredients and careful attention to proper technique throughout each step of preparation and service. Contemporary renditions of classic dishes, such as a navarin made with lobster instead of mutton, are clear examples that no cooking technique need become outmoded.

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