Preparing meals can be difficult, especially when it’s a large meal and you’re on a timeline. If you’re not a seasoned chef, you can relieve some of that stress by par-cooking.
What Is Par-cooking?
Par-cooking, short for “‘partially cooking,” involves partially cooking a dish and finishing it when you would like to serve it. Use this technique when you want to keep proteins from drying out. This also works when you need two cooking methods to ensure a recipe’s success – think baking your chicken breast and then charring it on the grill for maximum flavor.
It’s also a great method for parties or large gatherings when you have all burners going and need to serve food at a specific time.
The main component to par-cooking is time. Here are some classic examples of par-cooking in your kitchen:
With dryness being the main complaint surrounding chicken, par-cooking can rescue your dinner quickly. When grilling for a large group, some recommend baking the chicken before throwing it on that grill so that you can ensure a moist and juicy chicken with that great smokey char. In addition, when you pre-cook chicken before grilling, you can ensure a timely completion so your guests are happy!
When you don’t have access to a grill but still want a juicy steak, we recommend searing it in a cast iron skillet (Full directions here.) and then finishing it in a hot oven. We’ve even heard of people doing the reverse (heating in the oven and then taking it to the skillet) – but we have yet to experiment with this method!
Par-cooking Casseroles + Baked Goods
Another classic go-to for busy weeks, pre-cooking casseroles is a great way to make dinner a breeze. Par-cooking your dish means cooking until its juuust about done (right before the crispy tops set in) and then freezing for later with your frozen organic meals. Simply pop it back in the oven and heat and it won’t feel like leftovers, it will just feel like you saved a lot of time cooking!
In a Nutshell…
Overall, if your recipe calls for making something ahead of time, or if you have the opportunity to develop flavor by start off with a low, controlled heat, but want to finish it with some flare, it’s the ideal time for par-cooking!