Want good fast food? Learn how to saute!

Here is a wonderfully easy and flavorful recipe from a great website called The Splendid Table.  Below is an explanation of how to sauté and braise that I thought would be helpful….For a healthier version I suggest you substitute an equal amount of xylitol for the brown sugar.  Remember, canola is a highly processed oil and one I do not recommend.  So substitute extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for the canola oil.
I sliced up some cabbage and added it to the same pan with more oil, after I removed the chicken.  Remember to sprinkle it generously with sea salt and pepper for a delicious and quick side dish….

You want good fast food? Just learn one quick technique and you’ll be able to cook hundreds of different dishes.

Technically, sauté is French for jump or rise up. Culinarily, it is something like pan frying, except you cook foods in a modest amount of hot fat in a wide shallow pan. The goal is cooking them through without added moisture.

In this Southern Indian-inspired dish (a sauté is a sauté, is a sauté – change seasonings at will, but the sauté technique stays the same), you heat oil in a big shallow pan, add chicken breasts with their seasonings, brown them over high heat, then cook them to tender and done by lowering the heat quite a bit and covering the pan. This way the meat is surrounded by warmth.

If instead of chicken you were sautéing something that cooks much faster, like a fish filet, you would not cover the pan. If you added just a little wine to the pan, maybe 1/4 cup, technically you’d still be sautéing.

 Add a cup or more of liquid to really moisten the main ingredient, and you step into a new technique – the braise. You braise tougher meat cuts and vegetables which demand more time to tenderize, like cabbage, carrots, rutabaga and potatoes. Add enough liquid to cover the food, and you have a stew.

Just remember the two tricks to the sauté: brown over high heat, finish cooking over very low heat for juicy results. Do it all very fast over high temperatures and you’ll toughen your dinner.

GINGER-SHALLOT CHICKEN BREASTS

Steamed bok choy or Napa cabbage is excellent with this, as are rice noodles or rice.

4 servings

• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1-1/2 pounds

• 1 tablespoon soy sauce

• 1-1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarse chopped

 • 4 large shallots, or 1/2 medium onion and 1 clove garlic, peeled

• 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

• 1 teaspoon ground coriander

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

• 1 to 2 fresh jalapeno, or Serrano chiles, seeded (optional)

• 2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil

• Extra oil for the sauté

1. If time allows, place the chicken in a plastic storage container. In a blender or food processor puree all the other ingredients (except the oil for the sauté) with a little water. Add puree to the container with the chicken, turn pieces to coat thoroughly, and cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours. If there’s no time to marinate it, pat the chicken dry, assemble all the other ingredients and go to the next step.

2. Lightly film a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with oil and heat over medium high. Add the chicken (that you’ve possibly removed from the marinade and patted dry – save the marinade), not letting the pieces touch. Sear on one side for a minute or so, turn and lightly brown on the second side.

3. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook, turning the chicken once, 10 minutes (if the meat threatens to burn, add a few tablespoons of water), or until the pieces are just firm when pressed. Remove the chicken from the pan and let stand in a warm place for 5 to 8 minutes for juices to settle (it will be more tender and juicy because of this rest).

4. Put the sauté pan back over medium heat and stir in the marinade ingredients. Sauté them 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they are fragrant and beginning to color. Then add 1/2 cup water and simmer 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. The mixture should be thick and rich tasting. Scrape a little over each piece of chicken and serve.

 LYNNE’S TIPS • You could glaze the chicken by swirling 1/2 cup of passion fruit juice, along with the reserved marinade, into the pan once the bird is done. Boil it down to a syrup and pour over the meat. The juice will pick up all the great tasting bits in the pan.

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