The term saute literally means to jump. That is why when we saute food we want it to jump constantly in the pan, under high heat, until it becomes a beautiful dore, or golden brown. This is the succulent color that comes from the Maillard reaction, which is the browning due to the proteins being heated. The saute makes use of two types of pans, a sautoir and a sauteuse. A sauoir is a saute pan used for pan fryiing due to its edges being at a 90 degree angle. This makes the pan excellent for par-braising, pan frying, and poaching. A sauteuse is more commonly found in every kitchen and is used for basic saute and some braising.
I love sauteing. It allows you to use all five senses at once. I hear the sound of my butter sizzling in the pan, I can smell its nutty aroma. Looking into the pan I can see the butter starting to foam, I know its ready to go. I add some lovely organic baby spinach and immediately the hot pan begins to work. I toss it around, constantly flipping it, watching the spinach jump. After just a few short minutes, the spinach has become thick and pasty, I add some light cream and salt. I toss it some more. Finally i grab a fork and taste my product. Mmm, sauted spinach.
For any prospective chef, knowing your techniques is crucial. Its a foundation for any culinary career, because everything we do, no matter how advanced and artistic, comes from a basic technique. So many books, in a multitude of languages, back this idea. It’s easy to shoot for the moon but everyone knows that you have to build the ship to get there first. That’s why I choose saute for this article. Saute begins with a flick of the wrist and leads you into move advanced techniques like braising and poaching. My advice is to master the flip, and pay very close attention to how you cook in the pan, since many cooks will easily over or under cook food.
For the next article I’ll example saute, and I’ll go into the technique of braising. Braising is a great way to cook tougher cuts of meat, in order to make them tender and delicious. Braising is considered a winter cooking technique, and as such most recipes involve heavier foods and sauces. Well, thats all for today, until next time.