Methods Heat can transform the flavor and texture of ingredients. Browning meat and other ingredients, for example, involves complex chemical reactions. Fruits and vegetables contain sugars that caramelize when browned. The reaction in browning proteins, such as those in meat and poultry, is called the Maillard reaction after Louis Camille Maillard, the French chemist who discovered it. The Maillard reaction produces many new chemical compounds. These compounds give the food new flavors and aromas. The browned bits of food that stick to a pan are called fond, a French word meaning bottom. Many sauces make use of the rich, complex flavors of fond. Browning can only occur at temperatures above the boiling point of water, which is 212 °F (100 °C) at sea level. For this reason, moisture around the exterior of food must evaporate before the food can brown. Air and fat, as well as the metal surfaces of pans, can reach extremely high temperatures in browning. But cooking ingredients at high temperature for too long removes moisture, turning food dry and chewy. Skilled cooks will therefore carefully control both heat and moisture when cooking. Cooking with dry heat involves exposing food to hot air. As the air moves around the food’s surface, its heat is transferred to the cooler food. Roasting traditionally involved cooking large pieces of meat—or even a whole animal, such as a pig or a lamb—over an open fire. But today, roasting generally refers to cooking food in a hot oven. Roasting meat or vegetables in a high temperature oven—above 400 °F (205 °C)—causes the food to brown quickly. But high temperatures can also dry out food. Cooks thus sometimes brown meat and then finish it in a lower temperature oven to keep it moist inside. Cooks often roast ingredients on a rack above a roasting pan, enabling hot air to reach all sides of the food.

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