This week we are going to talk about the cooking methods of saute and braising and when and how these are best used. To sauté, means to cook quickly in a small amount of fat and is one of the shortest and quickest cooking methods. Braising on the other hand is the exact opposite; braising takes a long period of time is done at much lower temperatures. To saute is hot and fast, while braising is low and slow.
Question #1 – So what about pan-frying and deep frying? Aren’t those similar to sauteing? . . . . . Yes they are also very hot and very fast methods of cooking. In fact, really the only difference in these 3 cooking methods (sauteing, pan frying and deep frying) is the amount of fat used.
Saute – Very small amount of fat, usually just enough to keep the food from sticking to your pan and giving it just a little flavor. Works well for things like soft raw vegetables (summer squash, onions, peppers, etc.), or blanched (pre-cooked) dense vegetables like broccoli, carrots, etc. It is also best when cooking meats to use thin strips or small pieces of meat since larger pieces take much longer tocook and sauteing is ment to be a quicker process.
Pan-frying– Uses about two to four times the amount of fat as sauteing, and usually goes about half way up the item(s) you are pan frying. A distinct characteristic of pan fying is the golden brown exterior it gives to your items(s). This is a good cooking medium for larger cuts (individual portion size) of meat, and breaded items.
Deep Frying – This is usually two to four times (or more) the amount of fat as pan frying. This is when the item(s) are completely submerged in the fat. Items are usually breaded to protect the exterior from the harsh dry temperature, since the breading will turn a nice crunchy golden brown and thus this will enable the interior to generally stay nice an moist.
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Whenever you are braising and item it is to make something that could be too tough, more tender. Braising is best used with large tough cuts of beef like brisket, chuck roasts, etc. Pork items such as shoulder roast or butt roasts, or even bone-in chicken thighs and legs.
Since the main purpose of braising is to break down connective tissues, meats with with more connective tissues in them or dense root-type vegetables that take longer to cook are generally what this cooking method is used for.
Whenever you use a crock-pot, you are braising.