Are you interested in a helpful Cooking Tip for preparing meat which is easy, fast and produces tender, flavorful results? Sear it and Sauce it! Want to know more? Then read on, in this first, in a series of cooking tips. If you find this Cooking Tip helpful, let me know by commenting on my food blog or by Liking or Sharing this post with others via the Share feature.
One of the things that comes from perusing many a recipe, learning the basics, and reaching the point where you can wing it with confidence, is that you develop some helpful Cooking Tips. A book club friend (shout out to Jesse M), was looking for advice for cooking meat, which got me thinking. It might be helpful to pass on one of my favorite techniques for pan sauteing meat and finishing it off with a sauce. This is really just a basic blueprint which is very flexible and allows you to creatively mix & match flavors to soot your mood and the ingredients you have on hand.
While there are many ways to cook protein, I am a huge fan of using a thinner piece of chicken, beef, pork, or whatever. This allows you to cook more quickly and keep a close eye on the cooking process to avoid over cooking. The best way to get a thin piece is to cut it, don’t pound it. This is so much easier, produces more uniform thickness and keeps the meat from getting torn. It works best to firm up the meat by putting it in the freezer for approximately 90 minutes. Then take a a sharp thin knife and slice the meat into 1/4 – 1/2″ thick pieces. If you’re starting with frozen meat, thaw it partially, until you can slice through it. Season the meat with salt & pepper, some fresh herbs, or whatever spices you’d like. You can also optionally coat the meat lightly with flour to produce a more browned result.
Sear & Steam
I prefer using equal amounts of butter and olive oil when pan cooking meats. Be sure to get the fat to a nice sizzle without burning it (medium high heat) and then add the meat. Searing for just a few minutes on both sides seals in the flavor without overcooking the meat. Remove the meat from the pan and put it in a covered dish so it can finish cooking via it’s own steam. You can throw a pan cover or a plate over the dish, whatever you have on hand.
Be sure not to crowd the pan when browning the meat. Crowding creates too much moisture. Make sure there is space between the pieces of meat to allow air flow. If you’re cooking for more that 2 people, you’ll usually need to cook the meat in batches, placing each piece in the covered dish after you’ve seared it.
Its All About the Sauce
This is what you’re really in the mood for – whether it’s rich, spicy, tart, whatever. The sauce imparts the main flavor for the dish and provides moisture for the meat. Some sauces can be made in advance and then warmed at the last minute. This Spicy Gazpacho Butter Sauce, which would also work well with chicken, is one very tasty example.
Other sauces can be made at the last minute like this basic pan sauce. Saute a little shallot or garlic. Make a roux (fat + flour) and whisk in some broth & wine. Pump up the flavor with herbs and a splash of cream. Voila! You have a delicious meat dish which is easy enough for everyday, but impressive enough for company!