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Twenty/20 Project: Sauté

Day 13: Sauté

My Impression:

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.

Tonight’s meal. Fab. (c)2013 Reese M.

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.

10 thoughts on “Twenty/20 Project: Sauté

  1. My husband has a great recipe for blanching asparagus. Then, one day, the pan was too hot and the butter asploded all over the kitchen. He was unscathed, but I had to clean the ceiling the next morning. THE CEILING. (Note to self: get a splatter pan, too.)

    I might have to buy this book. I am intrigued (and a little hungry).:)

    1. I just wanted to compliment you on the use of the word “asploded”.

      I recommend the book, it’s been great fun working with it, and I have plans to do more recipes after I complete this “project” phase.😉

  2. I will kiss your hand to make it better.:)

    By the way, I have to say for all the readers that much of the way through the experiment every recipe has been a winner. Well, I’ve been the real winner…

  3. Every time you mention butter I get a little nervous. Does Ruhlman list the calories and calories from fat for the recipes? I did see where you quoted him writing we get fat from eating too much, but eating too much fiber and eating too much butter aren’t exactly the same.

    1. The calories and fat are not listed, no. These dishes tend toward the richer side, of course. I would not make these things as an exclusivity for regular cooking, but I think that they are good exercises in learning how to deal with some of these ingredients and techniques. I will probably find substitutes in some of these cases if I plan to incorporate them into my “regular rotation”. The soup is a good example – I’d probably not go with the heavy cream as suggested every time…I’m likely to substitute at least half and half, and experiment with regular milk. For the purposes of the project though, I’m preparing the recipes as written. January, it turns out, was not a good month to start a new diet in our house…so it’s been deferred to February.:)

    1. Stay tuned! Today is the Roast section, and I’m totally excited because I’ll be making a whole Roasted Chicken…something I’ve never actually attempted before.:)

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