Deep-frying is the process where food is immersed in hot oil or fat to be cooked. You can make chops this way, or fried potato and so on. Food can be partly cooked in advance and then finished just before being served.
To partially cook food you immerse it in the preheated (to 160C-175C) fat or oil until softened and not coloured.
To fully cook food you immerse it in the preheated (to 170C-190C) fat or oil until cooked through and crisp on the outside.
While it is relatively easy to deep fry food with the correct tools (basket or spider), there are a number of things to be concerned about, first you are cooking in either fat or oil, so it’s important to remove as much of this as possible after cooking. The most common way is by shaking as much off the food as possible as soon as it is removed from the cooker and then rested on clean kitchen paper to absorb more of the oil.
It’s important to have the correct amount of fat or oil for the food you wish to cook and this should be changed regularly to avoid the build up of hydrogenated fats (a.k.a. bad stuff). It’s also vitally important to remove as much excess moisture as possible from the food before frying to prevent accidents.
In most cases a specific deep fat fryer should be used, however you could use a large saucepan. I would strongly recommend that if you are going to deep fry then use a dedicated deep fat fryer as this will have its own temperature controls and is far less likely to go on fire than any cooker top method of deep-frying. That said it’s always a good idea to have a fire-blanket and an appropriate fire extinguisher handy as well as knowing how to use them!
Grilling is a great way to cook small quantities of food by radiant heat. There are 3 types of grilling, grilling with heat from below (e.g. the barbecue); grilling with heat from above, what our friends across the pond in the U.S. call broiling (e.g. the grill in your kitchen); and grilling “toaster” style between heated bars or plates (e.g. the George Foreman-style grills).
Essentially the food is cooked on top, below or between the heat source(s). With the exception of the “toaster” style of grilling the food is visible and this makes it easy to see when the food is cooked. Any excess fat is usually lost in the grilling process which makes it healthier and it’s usually quick to adjust the heat level while cooking as well as get a good colour and crisp finish.
It’s important to prepare your grill well before beginning to cook on it, making sure to clean them regularly and remove fat and grease to prevent it starting a fire.
When roasting, the food is cooked with oil or fat either in an oven or on a spit. The joint of meat to be cooked is placed on a trivet in a roasting tray and placed in a hot oven to seal. The temperature is then lowered and the joint cooked through with frequent basting. Alternatively, the joint can be placed on a spit over a heat source and basted regularly.
This is a great way to cook a large joint of meat as it uses only the heat and the fat within the meat to cook and all the excess fat is rendered out of the meat along with some of the natural juices, these juices can be kept and used to make gravy.
It’s always a good idea to use a roasting tray that is deep enough to hold all the ingredients easily. It’s essential when basting that you do not splash fat onto yourself or others or indeed the oven or heat source as this could cause a fire. Remember to drain off the excess fat before making the gravy.
Finally the joint should be left to rest before carving as this will make it easier to carve.
To braise food it is first, either quick fried to seal it or blanched. It is then placed on a mirepoix (roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery) in a covered container with just enough sauce or stock to cover it, then cooked in an oven until done.
There are two types of braising, brown braising where the food is cooked on a mirepoix with a sauce and white braising where the food is cooked on a mirepoix with white stock.
Braising is usually done in an oven at approx. 200C however lower temperatures can be used with longer cooking times. A lid is always required, so casseroles and braising pans are the most common containers used, however if you have an oven suitable saucepan this could also be used.
As with stewing it’s important to handle your braising pan correctly, using dry cloths when lifting to avoid burns.
The big bonus when braising is that nutrients and flavour are retained in the braising liquid, so if it was a sauce to begin with then the flavours will have intensified and if the braising liquid was a stock this can be used to make a sauce or gravy to be served alongside.