Rocco DiSpirito shares five techniques for getting the most flavor out of the fewest calories.

In order to get the most flavor out of the fewest calories, I experimented with a wide range of cooking techniques while developing these recipes. The following produce the best results when it comes to cooking with less fat.

Broiling: This high-heat technique is perfect when the aim is a charred, crispy texture without sautéing or pan frying, and also for heating a pizza stone until it’s very hot. Essentially, a broiler is like a grill but requires no charcoal.

Faux frying: I developed this technique specifically for calorie reduction and weight loss, and it is the superstar technique of this book. Without it there would be no onions rings, chicken fingers, or mozzarella sticks in it. I’ve replaced pan-frying, deep-fat frying, and sautéing with faux frying and the results are astonishing. I start with a slightly modified breading procedure and ingredients: white flour is replaced with 100 percent whole-wheat flour, whole eggs are replaced with whipped egg whites, and breadcrumbs are replaced with whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs. Whatever is being breaded is carefully placed on a baking rack and sprayed with cooking spray, then baked in a very hot oven. You’ll never need to deep-fry again.

Flash frying: This is a high-heat frying technique that requires very little time in the oil, so much less fat is absorbed into the food. A case in point is my Flash-Fried Finger-Lickin’ Chicken: The chicken is first poached in chicken broth so that it’s almost fully cooked, then coated with buttermilk and whole-wheat flour before bring flash fried in 2 quarts of grapeseed oil. Only a couple of tablespoons of oil are absorbed by all of the chicken; in deep-fat frying, cups of oil are absorbed.

Grilling: Grilling is an inherently low-fat cooking method. I grill all year round. I use an outdoor grill in the summer and a heavy cast-iron grill pan indoors in the winter. Again, high heat is a must when grilling, both for flavor and for the food to easily come off the grill. A 2-second blast of cooking spray just before placing your ingredients on the grill is highly recommended.

High-heat stovetop cooking: In my traditional way of cooking, I would heat up a cooking vessel, then add oil, butter, or bacon fat to it, let the fat get hot, and then add the ingredients. Needless to say, that method is not applied to the kind of cooking in this book. In these recipes, the method is to get the pan very hot—and I mean very hot. The pan is then sprayed with cooking spray, followed immediately by the ingredients that are to be cooked. This method spares you countless carlories, and in most cases, the results are nearly identical. Where they’re not, I’ve made other adjustments to achieve the same level of deliciousness. When choosing cookware, go for porcelain-coated cast-iron or nonstick-coated cast iron, or heavy stainless steel. Anything else will not give you the results you are looking for.

Poaching: Poaching (cooking food in shallow hot liquid) may be the boring cousin of livelier cooking techniques, and I don’t call for it often, but sometimes it’s the best way to cook without fat. Always poach in flavored liquids such as chicken broth—water doesn’t add any flavor to poached foods.


Check out the following recipes from Rocco DiSpirito’s book Now Eat This!:
1. Flash-Fried Finger-Lickin’ Chicken
2. No Cream-No Cry Penne alla Vodka
3. Mama-Approved Spaghetti and Meatballs
4. Creamed Spinach
5. Barbecue Ribs

Click here for more of Rocco’s recipes, and here to purchase his book, Now Eat This!

Excerpted from NOW EAT THIS! 150
of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, All
Under 350 Calories by Rocco DiSpirito
© 2010 Spirit Media, LLC. A
Ballantine Trade Paperback Original, available wherever books are sold.