Originally Posted by ChicagoRon
That's good advice... I always poach my eggs in boiling water... they come out okay, but maybe they would be better if I went down to a simmer. Meanwhile, I thought a stock or soup could be boiled... vs. an actual meat like a brisket or rabbit that you would braise - or is this technically another term that depends heavily on level of submersion rather than temperature?
Boiled stock will be less clear than simmered, but I cook stock in a pressure cooker because the flavor and gelatin extraction is about a thousand times better. It clouds a little, but not too much. Basically, meat is protein, and protein molecules react certain ways at certain temperatures. When you are braising, what you are trying to do is to convert collagen into gelatin, which softens the meat, but as the internal temperature gets higher, the meat proteins squeeze out more liquid. On the other hand, collagen turns into gelatin faster at a higher temp. That is why people have cooked things like 7-hour lamb, or cooked slowly in the fireplace for days. It gives the time for collagen transformation, but without massive drying like in a boiling liquid. It is also the theory behind sous-vide... if you cook at 140 for 2 days, you convert all of the collagen to gelatin, but the meat doesn't gray and dry out. So, all things equal, braise at the lowest temp possible, but realize that it will take longer. A 200 degree oven is great, because the meat probably will never get over 160 with air being such a poor conductor of heat. Poaching is similar. You don't boil sausages because they get grainy. You put them in hot water for a longer time. The same problem arises when you add water to a sausage pan, as discussed earlier in the thread. Temp of the meat gets too high, and texture is compromised. Fish and meat are the same. Of course, this is just my opinion, at least some of it.