How to Saute

By Kristen Mccaffrey on

If you need to create a dish in minutes, sauteing is the answer. Not only can you prepare almost any dish in under 20 minutes when you saute, it by definition is cooking something over high heat with minimal fat. Sauteing is perfect for fresh veggies and lean proteins that dry out and lose flavor when they are cooked too long. When you saute meat or veggies, you will slightly brown them which deepens the flavor but you will still maintain the true taste of the food. A classic finish to sauteing is creating simple and quick pan sauces to serve with the dish and maintain moisture.

What You Need:

  • A large skillet or saute pan – nonstick and stainless steel work best

Preparing Your Meat and Vegetables

One key to sauteing successfully is making sure that things are cut to uniform size so that they cook evenly. When you are cutting vegetables, they should be bite size. Meat can either be sauteed in a standard portion size if it is not too thick, or cut into bite sized pieces that are added later in the saute.

Heating the Pan and Adding Oil

When you saute, it is important to heat the pan over medium to medium high heat before adding the your oil. Doing this will help to ensure that the food does not stick to the pan and that the oil does not burn. Once the pan is hot, add a small amount of oil with a high smoke point (like vegetable or canola oil) and let the oil heat up for around 30 seconds until it begins to shimmer.

Adding Vegetables, Meat, and Flavor

Next you will want to add in your vegetables and meat. You want to add the things that take the longest to cook first. Generally, if you are cooking a portion sized portion of meat, like a chicken breast or chicken thigh, you might add that first and let it begin to brown. Then add the vegetables and any spices or herbs. A key to successful sauteing is making sure you have just one layer of food and things are piled on top of each other. That will help everything to cook evenly. Also many times when people saute, they will saute one part of the meal, like say a piece of steak, and then remove that from the pan and saute the vegetable they are serving with it, say asparagus.

Creating a Quick Pan Sauce

Once your protein and veggies are cooked, it is easy to make a quick pan sauce using all the yummy morsels that are left over in the pan. You are going to want to add about 1 cup of liquid to the pan at medium high heat. This can be wine , broth, or a combination of both. After you add the liquid, scrape off anything stuck to the bottom of the pan. From there, you could simply reduce it to about 1/2 the amount and stir in a little butter, cream, or fresh herbs to finish it. You could also add garlic or shallots as it reduces, or even mushrooms to enhance the flavor.

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