Roast And Bake

To roast and to bake both mean to cook foods by surrounding them with hot, dry air, usually in an oven. Cooking on a spit in front of an open fire may also be considered roasting.

The term roasting usually applies to meats and poultry.The term baking usually applies to breads, pastries, vegetables, and fish. It is a more general term than roasting, although, in practice, there is little or no difference in actual technique, and the terms are often interchangeable (except for breads and pastries).

Please note, however, that it has recently become fashionable on menus to apply the term roasted to a wide variety of foods, including meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables that are not actually baked or roasted but rather sauteed, fried, or braised. One restaurant even labeled steamed vegetables as "roasted baby vegetables."

1. Cooking uncovered is essential to roasting. Covering holds in steam, changing the process from dry-heat to moist-heat cooking, such as braising or steaming.

2. Meat is usually roasted on a rack (or, if it is a rib roast, on its own natural rack of bones).The rack prevents the meat from simmering in its own juices and fat. It also allows hot air to circulate around the product.

3. When roasting in a conventional oven, the cook should allow for uneven temperatures by occasionally changing the position of the product.The back of the oven is often hotter because heat is lost at the door.

4. To barbecue means to cook with dry heat created by the burning of hardwood or by the hot coals of this wood. In other words, barbecuing is a roasting or grilling technique requiring a wood fire.

Authentic, traditional barbecue is done in wood-burning ovens or pits, but these are not practical for the average restaurant that wants to add barbecued items to the menu. So today, most barbecuing is done in specially designed smoke ovens or cookers. In principle, these units work like regular ovens, except that they also have a device that heats small pieces of hardwood to produce smoke. Foods should be suspended in the ovens or placed on racks so the smoke can contact all surfaces.

Technically, the foods cooked in these units cannot be said to be barbecued, as the heat is created by electric or gas burners. But because of the wood smoke, the results can be nearly identical.

5. Smoke-roasting is a procedure done on top of the stove in a closed container, using wood chips to make smoke. Use this procedure for small, tender, quick-cooking items such as fish fillets, tender meat and poultry pieces, and some vegetables.

To smoke-roast, place a layer of fine hardwood chips or shavings on the bottom of a hotel pan (see Figure 4.1). Disposable pans may be used for light smoking. Place a rack in the pan over the chips and lay the seasoned food items on the rack. Cover tightly with a second hotel pan or with aluminum foil. Place on the cooktop (making sure the ventilating hood is on!) over moderate heat. Smoke will begin rising from the wood chips. After about five minutes,remove the food items from the smoke-roaster and, if necessary, complete the cooking in the oven. Leaving the food in the smoke too long will result in a strong, bitter taste.

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