Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Can Bring Home the Bacon…AND Fry It Up In a Pan

 

Panfrying is an easy and straightforward dry cooking method that is used all over the world, giving us such great foods as breaded pork chops and chicken cutlets.

Panfrying allows you to get dinner on the table more quickly than several of the other cooking methods that we have or will be discussing…as long as you prepare as much as possible before throwing the first pork chop into the oil…and as long as the food that you will be cooking is actually food suited for this cooking method.

Panfrying simply involves cooking food in a heavy pan containing a small amount of hot oil over moderate heat until it is brown on one side, then flipping it over so that the other side browns also.

The oil should only cover half of the food’s height, unlike deep frying where the food is completely suspended in oil. The fact that the food actually touches the bottom of the pan means that the crust will be even darker than if it had been floating in the oil.

Panfried foods are often covered with some sort of breading before being added to the hot oil…(more on this later)…

This layer creates a barrier that prevents the oil from soaking into the food and making it greasy

As food is panfried, the moisture contained in the inside part of the meat turns into steam and then has a battle with the very hot oil surrounding it. The steam fights to keep the oil out, while the oil  fights to keep the moisture in. 

Actually I was a little puzzled about why frying would be considered as a “dry cooking method” even though the food is cooked in liquid.

Supposedly this is the case because oil is actually a fat that contains no water at all.

Even though both oil and water are liquids, oil behaves much differently than water.

Fewer flavor compounds found in food dissolve in oil. This means that foods cooked in oil are less likely to lose their flavor than those same foods cooked in water.

Save water for making stocks and broths, since so much of the flavor originally found in the food will be dissolved into the water anyway..

The goal of panfrying is to maintain a moist interior while at the same time creating a crisp, tasty, golden-brown crust, Pan-fried foods are favored for these browned surfaces, crisp coatings, and tender interiors.

Panfrying is an effective way to not only retain the moisture and tenderness that these cuts of meat such as pork chops should have, but also to add rich, caramelized flavor.

Food that has been panfried correctly should have a moist interior and a crispy exterior that you refuse to share with anybody.

One primary difference between panfrying and sauteeing, that we talked about in this previous post, is that panfrying uses lower heat.

This lower heat is important because panfrying involves cooking whole pieces of meat, not food that has already been cut into smaller pieces before cooking. If your temperature is too high, the exterior of the food will overcook while the  interior of the food will be undercoked…(ever cut into a hot piece of chieken only to find that the interior is still pink)…

In these next few posts, we will discuss the right equipment, the proper oils, which foods are best for panfrying…and how frying food can be done so that it isn’t quite as bad for my diabetic husband and my own big fat butt…

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review—The First Mess by Laura Wright

The book The First Mess by Laura Wright is a book about the accessibility and joys of plant-based wellness.

This book first appealed to me because lately I have been looking for healthier ways for our family to cook and eat…especially since my husband has been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.

This book will be especially of interest to people who are interested in learning how to prepare simple, seasonal vegan and plant-based meals that my family will enjoy

The central themes carried out throughout the book are the love for fresh ingredients, a respect towards the process of prepping and cooking them, and an overall approach to keeping it simple.

The author of the book is Laura Wright, the blogger behind the Saveur award-winning blog The First Mess.

Laura grew up working at her family’s local food market and vegetable patch in southern Ontario, where fully stocked root cellars in the winter and armfuls of fresh produce in the spring and summer were the norm. After attending culinary school and working for one of Canada’s original local food chefs, she launched The First Mess at the urging of her friends in order to share the delicious, no-fuss, healthy, seasonal meals she grew up eating, and she quickly attracted a large, international following.

The book features more than 125 whole-food recipes that showcase the best produce that each season has to offer.

The book begins with a guide for stocking your pantry and buying kitchen equipment, and then features over a hundred recipes organized into the following categories…

Mornings & Breakfast, such as Fluffy Whole Grain Pancakes

Soups & Stews, such as Garlicky Winter Vegetable and White Bean Mash with Mushroom Miso Gravy

Salads & Dressings, such as Romanesco Confetti Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing

Hearty Mains & Big Plates, such as Butternut and Pesto Cream Lasagna

Vegetables & A Couple of Grains, such as Burrito-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Energizing Drinks & Small Bites

Desserts & Small Treats, such as Earl Grey and Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

Each seasonal, wholesome, and delicious recipe includes a photograph…gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free options…and the amount of time that recipe will require.

 I didn’t find the recipes too complicated or too “extra.”  These plant-centric recipes will allow you to use up what you already have, encourage you to try something new, and create your own basics instead of buying them.

I found this book to be very organized, especially because it contains an easy-to-use index and informative table of contents.

I also found the book to be encouraging and fun to read because Laura shares interesting stories about specific ingredient and dishes, memories from childhood about harvesting and preparing it certain foods, and her decision to become a vegan.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out. The fonts are easy to read, and the ingredients and instructions are listed side-by-side in a very user-friendly way.

Each and every recipe has a beautiful color picture (almost always full-page)…a series of icons at the top for nut-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc….and the amount of time that the recipe will require.