To sauté means to cook quickly in a small amount of fat.
1. The French word sauter means "to jump," referring to the action of tossing small pieces of food in a sauté pan (see Figure 17.1). However,larger foods, such as slices of meat and pieces of chicken, are sautéed without actually being tossed in the pan.
2. Note these two important principles:
• Preheat the pan before adding the food to be sautéed.The food must start cooking at high heat, or it will begin to simmer in its own juices.
• Do not overcrowd the pan. Doing so lowers the temperature too much, and again the food begins to simmer in its own juices.
3. Meats to be sautéed are often dusted with flour to prevent sticking and to help achieve uniform browning.
4. After a food is sautéed, a liquid such as wine or stock is often swirled in the pan to dissolve browned bits of food sticking to the bottom.This is called deglazing.The liquid becomes part of a sauce served with the sautéed items.
5. Stir-frying is a variation of sautéing. See pages 313-314 for a discussion.
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