boil vs. cook e.g. meat

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zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
I asked a beaver trapper on YT whether he eats the meat afterwards, and he replied that he did and added:

"I either pan fry it or slow cook it in a crock pot"

1. Is it possible to use 'boil' here? How would you understand it if I used 'boil' in this sentence?

2. And why did he add 'slow'? Is it necessary here?
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Boil' means to cook in boiling water. Did the trapper mention that?
    Meat should never be boiled.

    A crock-pot is an electric cooking device with a time setter that cooks food very slowly for a long time at a low temperature. Food can be 'slow-cooked' in an oven too.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Neither of those methods involves boiling. I imagine boiled beaver would be pretty inedible!

    Slow cooking is a particular cooking method (it gets tough cuts of meat tender).
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    You might find the question weird, but you need to realise we have the same word for cooking and boiling in Polish. Just like we have one word for lending and borrowing, one word for taking and bringing and one word for going and coming. So don't be surprised learners ask. For learners you have unnecessary words in English because as you can see other languages can do without some words and people still convey messages.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I need soft vegetables for some dish, do I cook them or boil them say for 30 minutes?
    Only large potatoes could be boiled for that long without being reduced to a pulp. Boiling is very specific. It means cooking in water so hot that it’s bubbling all through the cooking (otherwise it’s called simmering).
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    -Let's cook some meat for dinner.
    -Let's roast some meat for dinner.
    -Let's boil some meat for dinner.

    So the first two make sense, while the last one doesn't, right? However, in the first example, we don't specify how the meat will be prepared, right?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Correct. Cook is a general term covering all methods. Bake, boil, roast, fry, grill etc. The last sentence makes grammatical sense, it's just not a common (or pleasant!) way of cooking meat. See #2 above : we boil eggs, for example and vegetables can be boiled for the appropriate length of time.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    No, they all make sense. It's just that the last one is likely to produce an unappetising result.
    Correct. Cook is a general term covering all methods. Bake, boil, roast, fry, grill etc. The last sentence makes grammatical sense, it's just not a common (or pleasant!) way of cooking meat. See #2 above : we boil eggs, for example and vegetables can be boiled for the appropriate length of time.
    You don't boil corned beef or stew meat?:)

    Added:
    Boiled beef is a traditional English dish which used to be eaten by working-class people in London; however, its popularity has decreased in recent years. Traditionally, cheaper cuts of meat were used, because boiling makes the meat more tender than roasting. Wikipedia
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    it's just not a common (or pleasant!) way of cooking meat. See #2 above : we boil eggs, for example and vegetables can be boiled for the appropriate length of time.
    Actually in the Polish cuisine we boil meat every day. We cook and eat lots of different kind of soups. And while cooking some soup, a piece of meat is being boiled to make the soup fattier.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    You don't boil corned beef or stew meat?:)
    Apparently, according to various domestic goddesses, you don't boil stewing meat, at least not too vigorously, as it tends to make it go tough. Instead, you simmer it, which is really not hugely different from boiling. The temperature is a bit lower, that's all. Go figure.

    Boil corned beef? You must be kidding! It is already cooked when it comes out of the can. You either eat it cold on bread or you fry it to make corned beef hash. If you were to boil it, it would dissolve into a mass of tiny fibres, and all the fat in which they were originally suspended would float up to the top.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Boiling (e.g. pasta) implies cooking in water at full rolling boil for a relatively short time. Stewing is done in stock, on a low heat, for a long time.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Cook = prepare using heat in one of the following ways:
    Boil = cook in water at 100°
    Simmer = cook in water at 80-90°.
    Fry = cook in hot oil. (Deep fry/shallow fry depending on the quantity of oil.)
    Grill = cook under or over a fierce flame
    Bake = cook in a closed oven
    Etc. etc...

    If I need soft vegetables for some dish, do I cook them or boil them say for 30 minutes?
    Yes, boiling for 30 minutes is one way of ruining vegetables. Steam or simmer green veg for 10-15 minutes, boil potatoes for 20 or so.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Boiling (e.g. pasta) implies cooking in water at full rolling boil for a relatively short time. Stewing is done in stock, on a low heat, for a long time.
    :thumbsup:
    A slow cooker, also known as a crock-pot (after a trademark owned by Sunbeam Products but sometimes used generically in Australia, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States), is a countertop electrical cooking appliance used to simmer at a lower temperature than other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, and frying.
    ...
    heats the contents to a steady temperature in the 79–93 °C (174–199 °F) range. The contents are enclosed by the crock and the lid, and attain an essentially constant temperature.
    (Wiki)

    We have recently started cooking meat and fish in (bags in) hot water that is well below boiling, sometimes as low as 115°F/46°C, so distinguishing between "boiing" and other temperature water is not pedantic, either grammatically or gastronomically :D
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    If I say 'Let's cook pasta for dinner', that would suggest we have just pasta for dinner, right? In other words, this doesn't make sense.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    If I say 'Let's cook pasta for dinner', that would suggest we have just pasta for dinner, right? In other words, this doesn't make sense.
    I think we are veering off-topic in a different direction. Context is critical and in such a suggestion, we would normally assume a sauce as well :D However, part of "cooking a pasta dinner" is boiling the pasta as in #17 above.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I say 'Let's cook pasta for dinner', that would suggest we have just pasta for dinner, right? In other words, this doesn't make sense.
    It makes sense, but it does imply you’d be having pasta and nothing else, since the word “cook” wouldn’t normally be used in that sentence. “Let’s have pasta for dinner” would be more natural, or, for example, “Let’s make lasagne/cannelloni/spaghetti tonight”.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Boiled meat isn't literally "boiled at 100 degrees" because that would make it very tough. Large pieces or joints of meat are "boiled" in water as opposed to being roasted or grilled.

    How about that Victorian staple, "boiled mutton"? I think it must have been simmered for several hours to become tender. A boiled ham is slowly simmered after having been brought to the boil.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Boiled meat isn't literally "boiled at 100 degrees" because that would make it very tough. Large pieces or joints of meat are "boiled" in water as opposed to being roasted or grilled.

    How about that Victorian staple, "boiled mutton"? I think it must have been simmered for several hours to become tender. A boiled ham is slowly simmered after having been brought to the boil.
    Yup - that was how the English cooked everything back then - at least that reputation survived well into the late 20th century, as I found when I moved here :)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Assuming you're not joking
    I'm not joking. Your usage of the term is unfamiliar to me. "Corned beef" in the UK refers to what is called bully beef elsewhere. I did not know this until Wikipedia told me just now, nor had I even heard of "bully beef".
    This takes us nicely back on topic, because "bully" is derived from a French word that means "boiled".

    The canned stuff typically comes from Argentina, and, compared to :eek: dog food, is really pretty good.

    Slowly cross-posted with Loob.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    BrE corned beef = AmE bully beef (Wiki article 1)
    I have never encountered "bully beef." ;)

    I may, of course, had lived a sheltered life in these nigh on to four score years as an AE speaker and four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
    We always referred to "canned corned beef."

    It might have been something the doughboys brought back from France a century ago, but that was before my time.:rolleyes:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Aargh! Now I read that Wiki article more carefully, I see it doesn't say that "bully beef" is an AmE term. Apologies:oops:
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Back to the beginning, if you don't have a big pot of water and big rolling bubbles and steam coming off you're not boiling, even if you are cooking. You boil things in water that you plan to take out of the water and eat (potatoes, eggs, crabs and shrimp, etc.). If you are going to consume the water as part of the meal, i.e. soup, then you generally aren't boiling either because that much heat is both unnecessary and bad for the soup. That's called simmering. You have bubbles, but they are small and under control. They break the surface gently. They don't disrupt the surface wholesale.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I must admit I didn't expect to come across recipe for a "boiled leg of nutton" on The Financial Times website.:) (Sorry, the link didn't work - but I think a single article is accessible without subscription.)

    The article entitled "boiled leg of mutton" instructs you to "Cook at the gentlest of simmers for a full four hours".


    "Boiled beaver" doesn't sound very appetising, but I wouldn't expect such a dish to be cooked at a rolling boil. If I'd been the trapper I would have said that I simmer it in a pot of water for a few hours/all day/however long it takes.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I don't think the wikipedia article is the only place to find that simmer indicates a lower temperature than boiling. Boiling is quite specific (212/100° at sea level - higher if there's much salt etc) while simmering, if somewhat vague, is definitely distinct from boiling. They are both ways of "cooking":)
    Simmering ensures gentler treatment than boiling to prevent food from toughening and/or breaking up. Simmering is usually a rapid and efficient method of cooking. Food that has simmered in milk or cream instead of water is sometimes referred to as creamed. The appropriate simmering temperature is a topic of debate among chefs, with some contending that a simmer is as low as 82 °C (180 °F).[2]
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Someone is preparing some meal on their barbecue and I come up and ask:

    "What are you cooking?" correct?

    Someone is baking a cake in the oven, yet I don't know if it is a cake or meat, I just see the oven is on. Do I ask the same question: "What are you cooking?" ?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes. If someone’s obviously in the middle of cooking something. But you can normally tell whether it’s meat or cakes by the aroma! :D

    I would never say “What’s cooking?” in that context. It’s an outdated way of asking “What’s happening?” / “What’s going on today?”.
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "What are you making?" is all you need. You only need to be as specific as necessary. That's all that's necessary.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    So both of these make sense, right? The second might refer to frying, grilling, simmering etc, right?

    "Don't boil vegetables for too long - they'll lose all their goodness"
    "Don't cook vegetables for too long - they'll lose all their goodness"
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    No, they all make sense. It's just that the last one is likely to produce an unappetising result.
    Not here in Italy. We boil some of the poorer cuts of meat together with onion, carrots and celery: it provides a good meat stock and the meat itself is eaten cold, either tossed in oil or vinegar or sometimes served with pickled aubergines.

    Zaffy, to cook refers to all cooking methods.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In Polish we also say 'What are you making today?' like you do in English, however we often add 'to eat'. Would it be possible in English? i.e. "What are you making to eat today?"
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In Polish we also say 'What are you making today?' like you do in English, however we often add 'to eat'. Would it be possible in English? i.e. "What are you making to eat today?"
    Close, but it would be more likey that we'd be more specific and say "What are you making for lunch/dinner/supper?" - so "to eat" is not needed.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    And If I see someone pan frying and am interested to know what they are making, would it be natural to ask: 'What are you pan-frying?' like we do in Polish or would you rather ask 'What are you cooking?'
    If there is a barbecue, you would ask in Polish 'What are you grilling?' never 'What are you cooking?" So in Polish we always refer to a specific method of cooking while asking such questions. We only use 'cook' in general questions like 'Do you like cooking?' Now you perhaps realise why this topic is difficult for ESL learners.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    And If I see someone pan frying and am interested to know what they are making, would it be natural to ask: 'What are you pan-frying?' like we do in Polish or would you rather ask 'What are you cooking?'
    If there is a barbecue, you would ask in Polish 'What are you grilling?' never 'What are you cooking?" So in Polish we always refer to a specific method of cooking while asking such questions. We only use 'cook' in general questions like 'Do you like cooking?' Now you perhaps realise why this topic is difficult for ESL learners.
    Perhaps only Polish ESL learners?:D
    You started by explaining that
    we have the same word for cooking and boiling in Polish..
    .So you have to use the specific term (such as pan-fry) because if you use the word for cook, it will mean boiling, right? In English, cook covers ALL ways of, well, cooking (using the English word). We are never confused because cook and boil do not mean the same thing (boiling is a way of cooking but not vice versa). We can ask "What are you cooking?" if someone is preparing something in the kitchen or at the barbecue, because the context means we dont need to specify the method and, most importantly, no-one will understand it as "What are you boiling?".
    (Perhaps the dictionary entry for the Poilsh word in a Polish to English dictionary should be edited to make this clear:))
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    'What are you pan-frying?' like we do in Polish or would you rather ask 'What are you cooking?'
    "What are you cooking?" (or What are you making?) would be the normal thing. We don't feel any need to state the obvious when we have one word that covers everything.

    If you walk into the kitchen and the person has two or three pots and pans on the stove you might have a reason to say something like that. Maybe they are frying something but you can also see a pot boiling with water but you can't see what's in it. You might say "What are you boiling?" to make it clear which part you are asking about.
     
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