A magical thing happens when sugar meets flame. As the temperature rises, little sugar molecules bounce around in a volatile reaction. Water steams off and the sugars brown down. Fructose and glucose oxidize, releasing a nutty aroma. A rich, caramel color develops, synonymous with this process of “caramelization”. Toasty butterscotch flavors form, reminiscent of warm rum. A crunchy, addictive crust holds it all together.
This is broiling.
The most traditional understanding of broiling is Crème Brulee: sweet vanilla custard, dusted with refined cane sugar and torched to make a caramelized shell that you crack open to enjoy. However, this technique can be used on the natural sugars in foods. Broiling simply involves applying high heat from above food. You can think of it as grilling, flipped upside down. It is an easy, healthy way to add massive amounts of flavor, especially in the fall and winter when the weather might discourage you from firing up the charcoal. Best of all, it intensifies the natural sugars of food, so there’s no need to add extra refined sugar or syrups.
Chef's Tips on Broiling:
Keep the food in large pieces. This makes it easier to cook and to serve. Plus it prevents your bananas from turning to mush
Keep a close eye. Broiled apples might take 12-15 minutes, but soft, ripe bananas might only take 3-4 minutes. There’s a fine line between broiled and burnt. As you’re getting used to your oven and practicing more cooking, don’t walk too far away from the oven.
Tropical fruit winners. Tropical fruits naturally have a lot of sweetness and moisture, two ingredients that make for ultimate broiling satisfaction. Pineapple, bananas, mango…all great fruits to try, especially for your first broiling experiments.
Try broiling with some of these quick ideas: