Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Principle of Carryover Cooking

Chances are you are overcooking your food.

In most cooking lessons I give, my students get a little nervous when I take half-cooked shrimp off the stove or chicken that is still a little pink out of the oven. Invariably, though, the food turns out just right.

Why? After food is removed from heat, it continues to cook an additional five to fifteen degrees. This is the principle of carryover cooking. There is enough residual heat within the food item (and in the pan if you leave the food in it) to finish the cooking process.

Overcooking leads to dry foods that are both less flavorful and nutritious than their moist counterparts.


So the next time you cook, try taking your food off the stove or out of the oven several minutes before you would normally. Let it rest for a few minutes and you’ll be rewarded with juicier chicken and crisper vegetables. (You can always cook food a little more, but there’s no saving a hamburger that’s a stunt double for a hockey puck.)

1 comment:

Peter said...

You are, of course, correct that some food with sufficient mass continues to transmit its exterior heat to the interior after it is removed from the oven. It would be good to recommend, however, that people use an accurate stem thermometer to ensure that the food item ultimately reaches its SAFE temperature. There are a lot of bacteria out there, especially on fish, poultry, even baked potatoes and smoked fish, that can kill if they aren't zapped by reaching the right temperature.