Day 13: Sauté
Once again, I thought I knew what sauté was. Hot pan, quick cooking. Easy. Fun. And it is that. But just like all the other techniques and ingredients in this book, Ruhlman opened my eyes to more. First, was this little revelation:
I’d never considered that we sauté bacon. It may be a matter of semantics, but the truth is, words do matter and we do need to know varying levels of heat when we sauté. I sauté steak at a different temperature than I sauté julienned zucchini/courgettes. And this is why sauté is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, of the techniques to master. (p. 228)
My first thought was – “holy crap, you do sauté bacon!”. Followed by – “huh…different levels of heat…“. It’s funny how these little discoveries can be so very simple, and yet take you by surprise. Once you look at it from a varying-temperature standpoint, you realize that there is far more to sautéing than meets the eye.
Ruhlman continues his usual discussion on the nuts and bolts of the different levels of sautéing, which is both informative and interesting. He does invoke discussions here from his experience in culinary school more than some of the other sections of the book, but in the context of the difficulty of this technique, it makes sense. Near the end of the essay section, he breaks down the recipes that follow into the different temperature levels of sautéing that he discussed. That is especially helpful if you want to refer to a recipe to practice the technique later.
Recipe: Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon Butter Sauce
First, the Tarragon Butter Sauce is a recipe that appears on page 200 of the book, so you’ll have to flip back for the exact recipe on the sauce. All I can say about this specific sauce is “Oh my god, how was I cooking without butter sauce before?!?!“. It’s rich, because it’s butter…but man is it good.
The chicken preparation is simple, so the focus is on the technique here. I didn’t find it too difficult, but I did discover that I really should have some splatter screens for my pans. I did manage to get a slight splatter burn on my hand. It wasn’t terrible, but a splatter screen is now on my list of Things To Buy for the Kitchen.