Cooking: The Art of Heat Control

One thing I have learned over the years is that the use of the proper type and amount of heat makes all the difference in the world in the taste and appearance of your food.
Some chefs are afraid to use too much heat and never really develop any deep flavors or colors. And others actually do use too much heat and destroy any flavors that were present drying out whatever they were cooking. Heat control makes all the difference in the world.
The steak I made for dinner tonight is a perfect example. I cooked it quickly for about 3 minutes on each side over a rather intense heat on the grill while the smoker box I got for my birthday (Thanks Min) flavored it. The outside was nicely seared while the inside was pink and juicy. (Don’t forget to let your meat rest also after you cook it.)  If I would have cooked the meat longer over a lower heat, it would have dried out and lost its entire flavor.
Long and slow cooking methods do have their place when you want to infuse what you are cooking with other flavors. For example, stews take long to cook because you are breaking down a cut of meat while it cooks and flavoring it the other ingredients you are cooking with it. Try grilling a piece of stew meat and you’ll be left with something that you probably can’t even chew. But the long cooking method allows the flavors to permeate the meat while allowing the harder tissues in the meat to soften and break down leaving a more tender bite.
Also something to think about are the chemical and physical changes that are occurring when you apply heat to food. High heat may cause the food to brown, char or burn which could be a good or bad thing.  Low heat may cause the food to soften, melt or become tender.
So I guess the old saying is still true: “If you can’t take the heat, have someone else cook for you….”

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