~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (10/05/13) ~
October has arrived. For those of us who reside in a four-season area of the USA, each season brings a change in lifestyle. I love the transition from the bold foods of Summer (quickly cooked fresh garden vegetables, grilled meats and frosty desserts) to the comforting foods of Fall (slow roasted vegetables, braised meats and baked desserts). I also love the transition from short sleeves to sweatshirts, and, watching college football instead of playing tennis!
I love the Fall!!!
As you regular readers of KE know, I always answer and post any Culinary Q&A's on Friday afternoons, but, when I checked my e-mails early this morning (Saturday) I received such a great question from a reader, I couldn't resist reponding immediately. It has Fall written all over it!
Q. Steve says and asks: Melanie, I want you to know your recipe for ~ E-Z "Real" Roasted Chicken Breasts & Gravy ~ has been a life changer for me. I never learned to cook, which I have always regretted, and now that I am in my 50's, I am tired of eating fast food. I make your chicken every week, and, I made ~ GrandMa Ann's Easy Chicken Vegetable Soup ~ this week too. You are teaching me to cook and I thank you!
I want to try my hand at making a dessert next, probably a cake so I can have a slice for dessert all week long, and I was wondering:
What is the difference between roasting and baking?
Aren't they the same thing?
In terms of a method of cooking, roasting and baking are the same thing because both techniques cook food via dry heat in the oven. To a food and recipe writer, like myself, there are distinctions:
Roasting is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to: solid or whole types of food (like meat, poultry and vegetables) that maintain their structure before, during and after roasting.
Baking is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to: loose or mixed together food like breads, desserts and casseroles, which rely upon and emerge from the baking process with one common structure.
Exceptions: "baked" ham, "baked" fish, "baked" potatoes? Here's my take on why:
Roasting got its name in reference to cooking a whole bird or a whole piece of meat on a spit over an open flame. The food came off the spit caramelized and crispy on the outside, and, moist and juicy on the inside. Baking got its name in reference to foods that were covered and buried in the hot coals or ashes because (for whatever reasons) they couldn't be cooked on a spit. They emerged perfectly cooked from the outside through to the center. When box ovens appeared in modern kitchens, foods like ham and fish, which needed to be cooked through to the center for food-safety reasons, dried out during the long open-roasting process. Educated modern day cooks did what their predecessors didn't know to do to avoid making people sick (or worse). They covered the food -- first with domed lids, later with aluminum foil. This produced a safe-to-eat meal with a moist, palatable texture!
So, in a nutshell: When the food being roasted gets covered for all of or a portion of the cooking process, we refer to it as being baked. You can find my recipes (both pictured above) for ~ Perfect "Prime" Rib Roast (Standing Rib Roast) ~, and, ~ "A, B, C" That's as Easy as Baked Easter Ham Can Be! ~ in Categories 3 or 11. It's Fall folks -- preheat your ovens!!!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)