Recently we talked about the method of cooking called sauteeing, which is a type of frying…but did you know that there are actually several different types of frying…
Let’s take a quick look at each of these different methods, before exploring these different methods even further…
1.Sautéing…As we previously learned, sautéing involves cooking small pieces of food over medium-high to high heat until browned on the outside and cooked through, all the while keeping the ingredients moving around in the pan, either by using a wooden spoon or by moving the pan back and forth. This method is typically used for cooking onion and garlic, but can also be used to cook fish, beef, shrimp, and tender vegetables such as mushrooms.
2.Stirfrying…Stirfrying is very similar to sauteeing…except stirfrying is typically done in a wok and usually is done before adding any sauce and additional ingredients such as meat and veggies.
3. Shallow Frying…Shallow frying is another type of frying, but involves cooking food that has been partly submerged in oil at a high temperature. The main goal in this method is to brown the food. Shallow frying is the method used to make such foods as fried chicken, fritters, and eggplant Parmesan.
4. Deep Frying…Deep frying involves completely submerging the food in lots of hot fat or oil and then cooking over high temperature. The main goal of this method is to cook food very quickly.
Now it is time to add some sort of oil to your skillet and actually start cooking your onions.
As far as which oil, that’s left to you…but some choices include olive oil, butter
You want to coat the bottom of the pan. Use 1tsp per onion. If you use too much oil, the onions will fry instead of caramelizing.
And now it’s time to actually start cooking…
You should have the following ingredients…
Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you need to…Add half of the onions that you are going to cook, instead of dumping all of them at once so that the pan will not be too hard.
Season the onions with salt.
Stir the onions gently
How long you cook your onions will be based on how dark you want them to be, what you are going to use them for, and how many onions you are cooking.
As the onions cook, check them every five to ten minutes. As you do this, stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet. Adjust the heat if you’re afraid that they’re going to burn.
If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of liquid—such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or wine. This will not only deglaze your pan, but will also add more flavor.
Taste an onion once they start looking the color that you want them to be. If they do not taste as caramelized as you would like, continue cooking.
Now deglaze your skillet…Now that your onions have finished cooking, pour 1/4C liquid—such as wine, broth, balsamic vinegar, or water. As the liquid bubbles, scrape up the fond and stir it into the onions.
Now pour this sauce over your caramelized onions.
Making Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker…You could also caramelize your onions in a slow cooker. Thank goodness…because I think that a slow cooker is the greatest invention since sliced bread.
Once you have finished slicing and dicing your onions, add the onions to your slow cooker along with 2Tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat the onions evenly with the oil. Now add 1/2 tsp salt. Cook the onions for ten hours on low, stirring occasionally to help them cook even more evenly.
Now that you have finished sauteeing whatever it is that you are sauteeing, you will find that your skillet has little bits of brown stuff still stuck to the bottom.
Your first thought as you gaze at this skillet that you dread cleaning is that you now have to get out a Brillo and clean the darn thing…all the time wondering if you’re gonna scratch the new skillet that you just forked over how much for…
There is a way not only to make cleaning this skillet easier, but also to use these bits to make your food taste even better.
What you find stuck on your skillet is actually a mixture of browned sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, and rendered fat that have collected on the bottom of the pan.
This caramelized “mess,” which the French call sucs, is actually packed with flavor and will only require some sort of liquid—such as wine, stock, or juice—to become something quite delicious.
How do I do that?
The way that you make this stuff actually taste good, not to mention cleaning your skillet is deglazing.
Deglazing transforms this messy residue into a delicious gravy or sauce that can be served with the food that you finished sauteeing or used to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.
This will add an additional rich flavour to the dish, capture the food’s flavor that is lost during cooking, and tenderize the foods that have so often become dry as you have sautéed them.
So how do you deglaze?
First transfer whatever you have just cooked onto a platter and cover so that it stays warm while you are deglazing the skillet.
Next add a liquid—such as wine, beer, stock, wine, juice, or both—and any desired fresh herbs to the hot pan. Add enough liquid to make twice the amount of sauce you want to make.
The flavor of your sauce or gravy will ultimately be determined by the following three things…
Raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, and gently boil gently until the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and make them dissolve into the sauce.
Cook until the there seems to be half as much liquid as you started with.
Taste the sauce until you get the flavor that you like.
You could also add a tablespoon of whipping cream, olive oil, or butter to add even more flavor, give it a velvety texture, and thicken the sauce.
And there you go—not only a cleaner skillet that will be easier to wash, but also a delicious something extra to serve with whatever you had just sautéed…
What is Sauteeing?…Sautéing uses relatively high, dry heat and motion to quickly brown meats and vegetables in a small amount of far.
Sautéing also gives food a lot of flavor in a short amount of time.
As far as meat, sautéing is a great way to cook meat because this method not only tenderizes the meat, but also takes advantage of the Maillard reaction, which is the caramelization of the sugars in food. Often this is done before continuing to cook the meat by another cooking method.
As far as veggies, sauteing is also a great way to cook veggies because this method brings out the true flavors of the food, produces a flavorful exterior with the best possible texture and color, and maintains the original flavor and texture of the veggies.
Sauteeing is very similar to two more cooking methods that we will be looking at—stir-frying and pan-frying. All three of these methods involve cooking food quickly in a small amount of fat.
However, stir-frying foods involves keeping the food in constant motion instead of letting the food rest at times during the cooking and requires higher heat….and pan-frying involves no tossing of your food, uses slightly more fat, and requires slightly lower temperatures.
So which foods can be sautéed, and which foods shouldn’t?…Virtually all foods can be sautéed, but since this is a quick cooking method, the food must be small and tender enough so that the center is done by the time the outside has browned.
This method works best with foods that are sliced thin so that they cook thoroughly without a lot of heat.
Since this is such a rapid technique, it does not offer the same tenderizing effect as some of other methods. For this reason, any food that you are going to sautee must be naturally tender.
Meat…As far as meat, sauteeing should only be used to cook the most tender cuts, those meats without a lot of tough connective tissue. If you try to sautée tough cuts of meat—such as a lamb shank or brisket—they will become even tougher because it is a dry heat method. These meats are much better suited for braising and other cooking methods that require a longer cooking time.
If you’re cooking a single serving of meat—such as a fish filet or pork chop, let the food develop the color and crust you want on one side before turning it over.
For chicken breasts or single-serving pieces of meat or fish, cook one side until golden brown, then flip over to brown the other side. This quick sear helps the food retain its natural juices.
Veggies…As far as veggies, any vegetable can be sautéed, but more tender vegetables—such as asparagus, baby artichokes, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sugar snap peas, and zucchini—are the best ones to choose.
Saute the veggies until they are al dente, meaning crisp-tender or almost “undercooked.” The veggies will continue to cooking even after you take them off the heat.
If you are going to be cooking several different vegetables together, start with those that will need a longer cooking times, and then add those that require shorter cooking times toward the end.
Overcrowding…Regardless if you are cooking veggies or meat, or a combination of the two. avoid overcrowding your skillet. Overcrowding your skillet will lower the heat of your skillet, and increase the chances that your food will be mushy and limp.
Your ingredients need enough space to move around, and any steam that is released as you cook needs enough room to escape, instead of staying in the pan in order for your food to brown, instead of steam.
Tossing and turning…You must keep the food moving as you sauté. This will make sure that your food cooks evenly keep the pan hot, and avoid food sticking to your skillet.
So often we see trained chefs on television shows, such as Iron Chef, holding the handle of the sauté pan firmly and then using a sharp elbow motion to quickly move the pan around….
And they make it look so easy. I am a normal home cook though, and my tossing and turning will never be quite the same as theirs…kinda like my pizza tossing skills…
So instead of even trying this at home, I use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to move the food around.
Just stir the food in a circular direction around the heating source. Wait a a few seconds, and then stir again.
Here are a few more things to remember…
Almond Oil…Another cooking oil that can be used to saute your foods is almond oil.
Nutrients...Almond oil is not only a good source of monounsaturated fats, but also a rich source of nutrients—including potassium, zinc, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.
Okay, I just told you to dry your food that you are going to be sauteeing off with a paper towel…and many of you cringed at the thought that I would even dare to have them in my house…aren’t we all “going green” these days?
Even though you might be much better off using this on the food that you are going to be sauteeing…after all, do you really want to risk making your family sick by drying foods such as raw chicken on something that you might then wash and use to clean your mirrors, windows, and wood furniture?
But right now I am taking a break to look at all the other things that can be used as alternatives to standard paper towels so that we can do one more thing to be “eco-friendly” and do our art in saving the environment.
Basically in the school of “green thinking,” there are three trains of thought—find something similar, use something else instead, or use something that you already have on hand.
So let’s first look at “Something Similar”…
When it comes to ordinary paper towels, the next something similar would have to be other towels and napkins that are made of a fabric that can be washed and re-used. Examples of this include Huck towels, microfiber cloths, and napkins from such materials as chambray, cotton, and linen.
1. Huck Towels
So in my quest for the best knife to buy as far as veggies, which ones did I find worth considering…
Cutco Vegetable Knife #1735
Dalstrong Phantom Series 6” Nakiri Vegetable Knife
Global Cutlery USA SAI 6″ Vegetable Knife
Shun Classic 7-in. Vegetable Cleaver
The first step in sauteeing your food is to cut whatever you’re going to saute into uniform, bite-size pieces…
And unless you totally want to ruin both your countertops and your knives, it is very important to invest in a decent cutting board.
As you are shopping for your new cutting board, it is important to consider several things—such as size, maintenance, material, and cost.
Size…As far as size, I have found that it is smart to have at least two different sized cutting boards—a small one for cutting up fruit and small vegetables—such as strawberries, lemons, and limes…and a larger one for everything else.
As far as the larger cutting board, a general rule of thumb is to buy a board that measures 15″x20″.
You should be able to lay your knife diagonally on your cutting board and have at least 1″-2″ on either side of the knife.
Buying such a large board is great for several reasons, including…
Okay, the last few articles have been an attempt to start writing about home organization, but lately I have been thinking more about this and have decided that the one thing I want to accomplish as I write is to teach, if only to myself, better cooking methods and the raw foods….especially now that my beloved souse has been diagnosed with diabetes this year.
So I am now back to bok…bok choy.
I thought that this would also be a great time to start talking about the various cooking methods and how to make each of these methods more healthy before moving higher on the Raw Foods ladder.
There are basically three categories of cooking methods. These are..,
Dry heat cooking methods involve applying either direct or indirect heat to the food, and include…
Baking and Roasting
Moist heat cooking methods involve submerging food directly into a hot liquid or exposing it to steam, and include…
Combination cooking methods involve using a combination of both dry-heat and moist-heat cooking techniques, and include…
In this next series, I would like to go into detail about each of the cooking methods and the tools needed or that are useful for each method.
Then having this list in hand of the different tools needed for each method, I am going to share my efforts on organizing my own kitchen.
Join me for the journey…