Sear & Sauce It – Cooking Tip for Meat

Cooking Tips 1Are 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.

FullSizeRenderThink Thin

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

Sauteing ChckenI 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!

Sauced Chicken



Basic Pan Sauce

Serving Size: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 1 tablespoon minced shallot (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup broth (you can use chicken or vegetable broth for chicken, pork or veal and beef broth for beef)
  • 1/2 cup wine (use a dry white wine or Marsala for chicken, pork or veal and a fruity red, such as a Merlot, for beef)
  • 2 tablespoons half & half or whipping cream (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, tarragon, parsley, etc.. or a combination (optional)


    Basic Pan Sauce
  • Melt 1 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil in pan on medium high heat until sizzling. Add approximately 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds seasoned thin meat fillets to pan and brown for about 2 minutes per side. Brown in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan. Place fillets in a covered dish as meat finishes browning.
  • In the same pan, on medium low, saute garlic or shallot (if using) for a few minutes until soft (using a lower temp helps to avoid browning the garlic which can make it bitter.)
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour to create a roux and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Whisk in broth and wine, gradually, to incorporate the flour. Increase heat to a low simmer, whisking frequently, and cook until the sauce reduces slightly and thickens, about 5 minutes. Cook and stir 1 minute longer.
  • Add half & half or cream and herbs (if using), then season with salt & pepper, to taste.
  • Pour pan pan juices back into the pan, whisk and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add meat back into pan, turning it to coat it in sauce, cover pan and simmer on low for 2 minutes to rewarm meat.
    A Few Other Variations - the idea is to optionally select 1 or 2 of these variations which complement the meat you're preparing.
  • Whisk in 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard after adding broth & wine (chicken, pork or veal)
  • Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the wine + a tablespoon of capers (chicken, pork or veal)
  • Whisk in 2 teaspoons of tomato paste & 1 /2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar after adding broth & wine (beef)
  • Add sliced mushrooms(you may need to add just a little more butter) with the garlic or shallots and saute until moisture from mushrooms has mostly evaporated (any meat)
  • Add 1/4 cup frozen peas to sauce with the cream and herbs (chicken, pork or veal)
  • There are many additional things you can add to enhance the flavor of this simple pan sauce. Get creative, experiment, and let me know what winning combinations you come up with!


9 thoughts on “Sear & Sauce It – Cooking Tip for Meat

  1. Thanks, glad you like it! It’s actually just a google image I used for the cooking tips post. I plan to use it in the future for additional cooking tips posts.

  2. Thanks so much for these tips. I can always use help cooking meat and the sauces sound really scrumptious.

  3. You are most welcome! You inspired this new cooking tip concept and I look forward to adding more ideas in the future.

  4. Cathy, thanks so much for creating this post! I look forward to trying this out! As a novice cook, it’s such a bummer to follow a recipe to prepare a dish, only to have the end product disappoint because of some shortcoming in technique. Keep the tutorials coming!

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