Grilling is done on an open type of grid with heat radiating from below. The heat source can be either gas or wood. Cooking with wood obviously imparts a smokiness to the product. Occasionally herbs are burnt along with the wood to infuse the item being grilled with more flavor. In this cooking method the juices extracted from the product are reduced directly on its outer surface. The result is a charred exterior composed of a flavorful, caramelized crust. Grilling a thick slice of fresh pineapple, for instance, will result in a crusty sugar crust surrounding the soft fruit, encasing its flavorful juices. Consider marinating the fruit or vegetable before grilling or brushing the fruit or vegetable with a juice or liquor marinade while it is grilling. Either technique will result in a product with an even greater depth of flavor. Grill marks can add some visual excitement to the plate as well, as in the case of grilled polenta cakes branded with a perfect cross-hatch grill pattern. Grilling will not work well with smaller soft fruits. Their size makes them easy to lose them between grid openings and their soft texture means they will break down too much over the high heat of an open flame.
In both pan-frying and deep-frying, the heat of the oil or fat cooks the food rather than direct contact with a dry heat source (such as a pan). Deep-frying is traditionally used for larger items, whereas pan-frying works best for smaller items. If a large item is pan-fried make sure that at least half of the product is covered in oil. This way, when it is flipped over the middle of the item is fried twice insuring that it is completely cooked.
Products are often dredged in a breading and/or a flour and egg mixture, or sometimes dipped into a batter prior to frying. This coating locks in the food’s natural juices. Sauces for deep- or pan-fried items are, therefore, made separately. Take the example of assorted tempura fruits. For this plate, fruits such as strawberries and slices of peaches, pineapple, or even pears and apples are covered with a light batter and fried. The contrast of the crispy coating and the softer, juicy fruit works well. The batter seals in the fruits’ juices, requiring that any accompanying sauce be made separately.
Starchy vegetables can be fried without any type of protective barrier. The natural starches of potatoes or squash, for instance, allow these vegetables to be deep fried without first being covered with a batter. Consider a plated dessert of a soft applesauce spice cake and brown sugar ice cream with an accompaniment of deep-fried sweet potato matchsticks dredged in cinnamon sugar. This is a modern pastry twist on the classic American French fry.
roasting and baking
Although classically most roasting was done on a spit, modern roasting more closely resembles baking. Both cooking techniques take place in a closed environment. Roasting is usually done for longer periods of time than baking. The product being roasted is often placed on a rack to ensure that it will be entirely encompassed by the circulation of hot air. Items being baked are not placed on a rack but, rather, contained within a dry heat environment. As a product roasts, its natural juices rise to the surface and turn to steam. That steam, in turn, penetrates the food as it cooks. The product’s natural sugars begin to caramelize on its surface and the result is a product with deep, intense flavor. The sweet richness of a roasted vegetable or fruit is incomparable. In the pastry world, roasting is primarily done with fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Recall the depth of flavor achieved when almonds were roasted.
Roasting a fruit or vegetable can also form the base of a sauce. The pan drippings, or fond, can be deglazed (with liquor or juice) and further reduced. The result is a sauce full of intense, caramelized flavor.