Sautéing is a versatile cooking method that involves a large shallow pan with slightly curved edges, small amounts of fat and high heat.
Tricks and tips for sautéing:
Use a sauté pan. The sauté pan is designed specifically for that little flip that ensures even cooking.
Cut your items to a uniform size.
Choose the right size of pan; overcrowding will cause the food to steam instead of caramelize.
Sautéing is versatile in terms of which fat to use. Depending on flavor profile, any number of fats can be used. The idea is to use about 1-2 tablespoons preheated in the pan on medium-high to high heat depending on the oil and the item to be sautéed. Check your recipe or this Whole Foods Guide is an excellent source for determining the best oil to use and their flavor profiles.
For veggies and fruits: Once your oil is hot, add your item and toss to evenly coat with oil and allow to brown on one side. Then toss again and allow to brown, until you have even browning on all sides. Don’t toss too often, it will prevent caramelization from happening. When all sides are nice and brown, lower the temperature to avoid scorching and cook to desired crispness.
For meats such as fish, chicken, pork and steak: season your meat with salt, pepper on both sides or marinate as instructed by the recipe. If marinated, dry the outside of the meat on paper towels to avoid hot oil spatters. You can lift an edge of your protein to check the color before turning it. You want to only turn it once, especially for delicate items such as fish.
Fish: Sauté until outside is golden and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork.
Chicken: Sauté until no longer pink and internal temperature is 160° F. For thicker pieces such as legs and thighs, consider a quick sear in an oven-proof pan then moving the item to a pre-heated 350°F oven to reach desired doneness.
Steak: Preheat the pan, sear for 1-2minutes per side on high, then reduce temperature to medium and cook to desired doneness. Can be finished in the oven after a quick sear if desired. This method is recommended for thicker cuts of meat.
Pork chop (bone-in or boneless): Preheat the pan, sear for 1-2 minutes per side on high, then reduce heat to medium and cook to internal temperature of 145-155°F depending on desired doneness. Can also be finished in the oven.
What to Sauté:
Beef – tender cuts
Chicken – tender cuts
Peas – English
Pork – tender cuts
Squash – summer