Explanation of Cooking Methods
Cooking terms that you'll encounter in this book are:
Bain-marie, or water bath, is a method used to make custards and steamed dishes by surrounding the cooking vessel with water; this helps maintain a more even cooking temperature around the food.
Baking involves putting the food in a preheated oven; the food cooks by being surrounded by the hot, dry air of your oven. In the pressure cooker, foods that are traditionally baked (like a cheesecake, for example) are baked in a covered container that's placed on a rack submerged in water. The water in the bottom of the pressure cooker creates the steam that builds the pressure and maintains the heat inside the pressure cooker. The cover over the pan holding the food maintains the dry environment inside.
Braising usually starts by browning a less expensive cut of meat in a pan on top of the stove and then covering the meat with a small amount of liquid, adding a lid or covering to the pan, and slowly cooking it. Braising can take place on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. The slow-cooking process tenderizes the meat. The cooking environment in the pressure cooker greatly reduces the braising time needed. For example, a roast that would normally take two and a half to three hours in the oven or on the stove only requires forty-five to sixty minutes in the pressure cooker.
Deglazing refers to the process of ridding a pan of any excess remaining fat by putting it over a medium-high heat and then adding enough cooking liquid to let you scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Doing this step before you add the other ingredients for your sauce or gravy gives the end result more flavor and color.
Poaching is accomplished by gently simmering ingredients in broth, juice, water, wine, or other flavorful liquids until they're cooked through and tender.
Roasting, like baking, is usually done in the oven, but generally at a higher oven temperature. Roasting meat in the moist environment inside a pressure cooker requires some trial and error because you can't rely on a programmable meat thermometer to tell you when the meat has reached the desired internal temperature. The upside is that the meat will roast much quicker when browned and then placed on the rack in a pressure cooker, and, even if it's cooked beyond your preferred preference, the meat will still be more moist than it would be if you had cooked it to that point in the dry environment of an oven.
Sautéing is the method of quickly cooking small or thin pieces of food in some oil or butter that has been brought to temperature in a sauté pan (or in the pressure cooker) over medium to medium-high heat.
Steaming is the cooking method that uses the steam from the cooking liquid to cook the food.
Stewing, like braising, involves slowly cooking the food in a liquid; however, stewing involves a larger liquid-to-food ratio. In other words, you use far more liquid when you're stewing food. Not surprisingly, this method is most often used to make stew.
Stir-frying is a cooking process similar to sautéing that's used to cook larger, bite-sized pieces of meat or vegetables in oil.
Tempering is the act of gradually increasing the temperature of one cooking ingredient by adding small amounts of a hotter ingredient to the first. For example, tempering beaten eggs by whisking small amounts of hot liquid into them before you add the eggs to the cooking pan lets them be mixed into the dish; tempering prevents them from scrambling instead.