culinary review

How To Sauté: Sautéing Food

Last Modified: 02/16/11
First Published: 11/14/07
Views: 6578
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Views: 6578
When you sauté, you cook food on the stove over relatively high heat in a small amount of fat. Usually a shallow pan is used with low sides because that provides the most surface area.

Meats and vegetables include food that's most commonly sautéed. You can use any fat such as butter (regular or clarified) or oil. If you are using regular butter, then it's usually a good idea to add a small amount of oil to raise the smoke point of the butter.

The word sauté comes from the French word Sauter which literally means “To jump”. The word jumping is quite an accurate reference since the food is often shaken and therefore jumping in the pan.

When you sauté, you usually cook the food for a relatively short period of time, as opposed to when you sweat food. Sautéed food is however throughly cooked, as opposed to seared food that might finish cooking in the oven. Sautéed food is usually slightly caramelized due to the high heat and soft, but not mushy or overly soft.

How do you sauté:

1. Start off with a hot shallow sauté pan such as a cast iron pan, a stainless steel pan, a copper pan or a non stick pan. Put the pan on medium-high heat and wait for the pan to heat up.

Once the pan is warm/hot, add enough fat to cover the pan, but not any more. Let the fats melt and heat up. Now add the content you wish to sauté. Make sure that all food is evenly cut up. You want uniform pieces in order for the food to be done at the same rate.

3. Don't over-crowd the pan. When you sauté, you want to give the food enough space so it can cook properly. If you overcrowd the pan, there will be too much mass to absorb the heat, resulting in too low heat overall and not enough heat distribution.

4. Stir occasionally (or shake the pan) and make sure that nothing burns. Although, if for example you are sautéing a piece of meat, then you might want to give the piece enough time to cook to create a surface area before you stir/turn it.

5. After a few minutes of sautéing over relatively high heat, it's time to lower the heat somewhat. How long it takes before you lower the heat depends on what you are sautéing. If the food is larger and thicker, then you want to lower the heat sooner.

Sautéing is a quick and easy process
that of course varies somewhat depending on what you sauté. The principle however is the same: start with a hot pan, use a small amount of fat, cook for a few minutes over high heat, then lower the heat.

Vegetables that are excellent to sauté
include peas, zucchini and broccoli. Sautéing is also nice because it allows you to add aromatics and flavors such as herbs or garlic at the later point of the sautéing process. Once you're done sautéing, then you can utilize the scrapings of the pan to make a pan sauce, or glaze the pan off with some wine.

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