Dry Heat Cookery
Direct vs Indirect heat
With direct heat cooking methods, large amounts of heat are transmitted to the cooked items from one direction. With indirect heat, a fluid substance such as air, or an oil/water/alcohol based liquid is heated, and the items to be cooked are placed in an enclosed space with that substance. Though boiling and steaming for example can fall under this umbrella, they are not dry heat cooking methods so they'll be excluded from this article. I'm also going to exclude smoking from this article, because it differs significantly from other classic dry heat cooking methods. (It should get it's own article)
Basic types of dry heat cookery
Indirect Dry Heat Methods:
- Deep Fat Frying: Items are placed in a container of fat heated to somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 and 400 degrees.
- Roasting: Items are usually placed uncovered in an oven with no water based liquid added to aid cooking. This is usually done between 325 and 425 degrees.
Direct Dry Heat Methods:
- Sauteing: Items are cooked over high heat in a pan on the stove top, with a small amount of fat added
- Sweating: Items are cooked over low-medium heat in a pan on the stove top, with a small amount of fat added
- Pan Frying: Items are cooked over medium heat in a pan on the stove top, larger amount of fat added. Also called shallow frying.
- Pan Broiling: Items, usually steaks, are cooked over high heat in a pan on the stove top with no fat added
- Grilling: Items are placed on a metal rack above a moderately intense to extremely intense heat source.
- Broiling: Basically it's upside down grilling. Items are placed on a pan or rack, under moderately intense to extremely intense heat source. The heat commercial salamander (broiler) can reach upwards of 2000F!
How to determine if dry heat cookery is appropriate for your cut of meat
Though most modern farm raised meat animals live a fairly sedentary life, and are therefore more tender (though less flavorful) than their barnyard counterparts, there are still some parts of some animals that are not appropriate for dry heat cooking (except for smoking). This is primarily due to the presence of the connective tissue collagen (yes, that collagen) which when slowly cooked for a long period of time breaks down into soft, rich gelatin. This is why the beef in beef stew is so tender and has such a soft velvety mouth feel. If you were to take that same package of stew meat and attempt to cook it on the grill, it would be almost inedibly tough. Ideally, you'll want to grill the cut with the smallest amount of collagen, while having the highest amount of intramuscular fat available. For hoofed animals, a good guideline is to pick meat as far away from the hooves as you can. The most tender (but not the most flavorful) part of most pigs and cows is of course, the tenderloin.