How to Sauté
What you will need:
A stainless steel pan or skillet
Tongs or Metal Spatula
Sautéing can best be described as: cooking food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat.
Sautéing is one of the basic cooking techniques used often in commercial and home kitchens. If done correctly, the end result will be a partially caramelized piece of protein or other food packed with flavor. If done incorrectly, the food will taste bland, and the appearance will be less than desirable.
Here are a few tips for becoming a good sauté cook:
Proper sautéing starts with a good pan. I recommend always using stainless steel. Stainless steel transfers heat evenly, and becomes hot quickly. Aluminum pans don’t provide equal heat transfer, and often discolor sauces. Try not to use non-sticks pans unless you’re making omelets or crepes.
The best heat source for sautéing is gas. Electric stoves will work, but not as well. If you have a warped pan, the heating coils will only reach that particular portion of the skillet.
Use medium-high to high-heat. Remember, you want to get your pan hot.
You can’t sauté without a fat source. Try butter (never margarine) olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, clarified butter, or anything else you can think of. Once your pan becomes hot, add the fat, not before.
Once your fat becomes hot, add your food item. Place the food in the pan slowly, making sure not to splash the hot oil. The food should be placed presentation side down first, putting it in the skillet so that it is laid down away from you.
Once the food is in the pan, let it cook. Don’t flip, or move the food around until it has become properly caramelized. Using tongs, or your metal spatula, check the cooked side for color. Once you have achieved proper color, flip the food and cook the other side for the same amount of time.
At this point you can place your food in the oven to finish, or simply continue cooking on the stove-top.
Remember: make sure you have the right equipment and tools before you start cooking. Experiment with different foods and techniques and you will impress your family and friends in no time!
Chef Chuck Kerber