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Cooking is the application of heat to ingredients to transform them via chemical and physical reactions that improve flavor, reduce chances of foodborne illness, and increase nutritional value. From a culinary perspective, the more interesting and enjoyable changes are brought about when compounds in food undergo the following chemical reactions:.
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The native form of a protein is the three-dimensional shape conformation assumed by the protein that is required for normal functioning. If this structure is disrupted typically by heat or acidthe protein is said to be denatured. Changes in the shapes of proteins also alter their taste and texture. Most people prefer meat cooked such that myosin is denatured while keeping the actin native. A Maillard reaction is a browning reaction that gives foods an aromatic and mouth-watering aroma.
Usually triggered by heat, this occurs when an amino acid and certain types of sugars break down and then recombine into hundreds of different types of compounds.
The exact byproducts and resulting smells depend upon the amino acids present in the food being cooked, Sun as an example, imagine the rich smell of the crispy skin on a roasted chicken. Caramelization is the result of the breakdown of sugars, which, like the Maillard reaction, generates hundreds of compounds that smell delicious. You can tell when something is done cooking by understanding what reactions you want to trigger and then detecting when those Hot have occurred. Cooking a steak?
Denaturation is a function of duration of exposure at a given temperature. Smell, touch, sight, sound, taste: learn to use all of your senses in cooking. Meat that has been cooked until it is medium rare—a point at which myosin has denatured and actin has yet to get want firmer and also visibly shrink. Bread flour has both proteins and sugars, so both caramelization and Maillard reactions occur during baking. The remainder of the chapter will prep examine a of key temperature points, starting with the coldest and ending with the hottest, discussing the importance of each temperature point and giving example recipes to illustrate the reactions that occur at each guy these temperatures.
As with most recipes in this book, the recipes here are componentsnot necessarily entire dishes or meals unto themselves. Create your own combinations as you like! This allows you to isolate the variables for each component, then combine them at the end. But timers are only a proxy for monitoring the underlying reactions.
Temperatures of common reactions in food top portion and heat sources bottom portion. For one, notice that browning reactions Maillard reactions and caramelization pound well above the boiling point of water. Another city thing to notice in the temperature graph is the center that proteins denature in relatively narrow temperature ranges.
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Which brings us to our first major aha! When grilling a steak, the temperature of the grill will determine how long it takes the steak to come up to temperature, but at the end of the day, what you really want to control is the final temperature of the steak, to trigger the needed chemical reactions. Denaturing refers to a change in the shape of a molecule molecular conformation.
Think of a protein as a bit like the power cable between a laptop and an outlet: while it has a particular primary structure the cord and wires inside itthe cord itself invariably gets all tangled up and twisted into some secondary structure. On the molecular level, the cable is the protein structure, and the tangles in the cable are secondary bonds between various atoms in the structure.
Atoms can be relocated to different bonding spots, changing the overall shape of the molecule, but not actually changing the chemical composition.
Key temperatures in cooking
It might no longer fit into places that it used to be able to go, or given the new conformation, other molecules might be able to form new bonds with the molecule and prevent it from functioning as it used to. There are a few. For one, how you get the heat into a piece of food matters. A lot.
Schematic diagram of temperature curves for two imaginary steaks, one placed in an oven and a second placed on a grill. Cooking a steak on a grill takes less time than in an oven, because energy is transferred faster in the hotter environment of the grill. Note that the error tolerance of when to pull the meat off the grill is smaller than pulling the meat from the oven, because the slope of the curve is steeper. Cooking at a higher temperature is not like stepping on the pedal to get to the office faster, where going twice as fast will get you there in half the time.
Sure, a hotter cooking environment like a grill will heat up the outer portions of the steak faster than a relatively cooler environment like an oven. But the hotter environment will continue to heat the outer portions of the steak before the center is done, resulting in an overcooked outer portion compared to the same size steak cooked in an oven to the same level of internal doneness. That is, the grill helps give the outside of the steak a nice brown color and all the wonderful smells that are the hallmark of grilling—aromas that are the result of Maillard reactions.
The outside portion of grilled meat will also have more byproducts from the Maillard reactions, resulting in a richer flavor.
Juggling time and temperature is a balancing act between achieving some reactions in some portions of the meat and other reactions in other parts of the meat. This has to be one of the hand-waviest formulas ever. I hereby apologize. Remember to cook until medium-rare This balancing act—getting the center cooked while not overcooking the outside—has to do with the rate at which heat energy is transferred to the core of a food.
Since cooking applies heat to foods from the outside in, the outer portions will warm up faster, and because we want to make sure the entire food is at least above a minimum temperature, the outside will technically be overcooked by the time the center gets there. This difference in temperature from the center to outer edges of the food is referred to as a temperature gradient.
Choose the method of cooking to match the properties of the food you are cooking. Smaller items—skirt steak, fish fillets, hamburgers—work well at high heats. Larger items—roasts, whole birds, meatloaf—do better at moderate temperatures. All parts of our example steak are not going to to reach temperature simultaneously. Because grill environments are hotter than ovens, the temperature delta between the environment and the food is larger, so foods cooked on the grill will heat up more quickly and have a steeper temperature gradient.
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Carryover in cooking refers to the phenomenon of continued cooking once the food is removed from the source of heat. Lower heat sources bring up the temperature of the meat more uniformly than hotter heat sources. Get a cast iron pan good and hot over medium-high heat. Drop the steak onto the cast iron pan and let it cook for two minutes.
Just let it sit and sear. After two minutes, flip and let cook for another two minutes. Let rest on cutting board for five minutes before serving. There are three methods of transferring heat into foods: conduction, convection, and radiation.
The table below shows the common cooking techniques broken out by their primary means of heat transfer. In cooking, those methods that transfer heat by direct contact between food and a hot material, such as the hot metal of a skillet, are conduction methods. Dropping a steak onto a hot cast iron pan, for example, causes thermal energy from the skillet to be transferred to the colder steak as the neighboring molecules distribute kinetic energy in an effort to equalize the difference in temperature.
Cooking methods listed by type of heat transfer.
Frying is a dry-heat method because it does not involve moisture. Convection methods of heat transfer—baking, roasting, boiling, steaming—all work by circulating a hot material against a cold one, causing the two materials to undergo conduction to transfer heat.
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Those heat methods that involve water are called wet heat methods; all others fall into the dry heat category. Brussels sprouts are commonly boiled and widely hated. Next time you cook them, quarter them, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and cook them under a broiler set to medium. Water is an essential material in cooking, and not just for its heat transfer properties. Another key difference between most of the dry versus wet methods is the higher speed of heat transfer typical in wet methods.
Cooking for geeks by jeff potter
Try it! You need to leave the egg in the oven for 20 minutes longer to get the same. One exception to this wet-is-faster-than-dry rule is deep-fat frying.
Mmm, donuts! Wet methods have their drawbacks including, depending on the desired result, the lack of the aforementioned chemical reactions.
Even water in its gaseous form—steam—can pack a real thermal punch. Radiant methods of heat transfer impart energy in the form of electromagnetic energy, typically microwaves or infrared radiation. The warmth you feel when sunlight hits your skin is radiant heat.
The aluminum foil will reflect the thermal radiation. In cooking, radiant heat methods are the only ones in which the energy being applied to the food can be either reflected or absorbed by the food.
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One technique for baking pie shells, for example, includes putting foil around the edge, to prevent overcooking the outer ring of crust. The various techniques for applying heat to food differ in other ways than just the mechanisms of heat transfer.
This is why we flip pancakes stovetop, heat from below but not cakes oven, heat from all directions. The same food can turn out vastly different under different heat conditions.
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Batter for pancakes conduction via stovetop is similar to that for muffins convection via baking and waffles conductionbut the end result differs widely. To further complicate things, most cooking methods are actually combinations of different types of heat transfer. Broiling, for example, primarily heats the food via thermal radiation, but the surrounding air in the oven also heats up as it comes in contact with the oven walls, then comes in contact with the food and supplies additional heat via convection.
Likewise, baking is primarily convection via hot air but also some amount of radiation from the hot oven walls. All ovens are, by definition, convection ovens, in the sense that heat is transferred by the movement of hot air. For example, if you like your lasagna like I do—toasty warm in the middle and with a delicious browned top—the middle needs to get hot enough to melt the cheese and allow the flavors to meld, while the top needs to be hot enough to brown. The convenience food industry cooks with combinations of heat, too, cooking some foods in a hot oven while simultaneously hitting them with microwaves and infrared radiation to cook them quickly.
In some cases, the adaptation is already common—pancake batter, when deep-fat fried, is a lot like funnel cakes.