Sautéing meat is a classic chef’s technique that seals in moisture and flavor. It’s a simple cooking technique that any home cook to master to turn cheaper cuts of meat into tender, juicy, delectable meals.
Sauté Meat in the Right Pan
Start with a large, well-balanced, heavy sauté pan. The pan needs to be large enough so the meat cutlets (chicken breasts, pork chops, beef steaks) do not touch each other when placed in the pan. Four meat cutlets will usually fit into a 12 inch sauté pan without touching, if cooking more than four meat cutlets, sauté the meat in batches.
To determine if a sauté pan or skillet is well-balanced, place the empty pan on the countertop and try to rock the pan back and forth while holding the pan’s handle. The pan will remain stationary and not rock if it is well-balanced. The heavier the sauté pan is , the more even the heat distribution will be.
Heat the Sauté Pan
Place the empty sauté pan on medium-high heat and allow the pan to heat before adding anything. Test to see if the sauté pan is hot enough by holding hand a few inches over the pan, if you have to remove your hand after a few seconds, the pan is ready.
Add a quarter-size portion of cooking oil and a teaspoon of butter to the hot pan. Tilt the sauté pan to coat with the oil and butter, reduce the heat if the butter browns immediately.
Sautéing the Meat
Pat the meat cutlets dry with a paper towel to avoid grease spattering when the cutlets are placed in the hot pan, and season the meat as desired. Place meat cutlets in the hot sauté pan (no touching or overlapping) and allow the meat to cook undisturbed for a few minutes. When the meat is properly seared and ready to be turned, it will easily release from the pan. Turn the meat cutlets with tongs or spatula so the meat will not be pierced and juices lost. Allow meat cutlets to cook on the second side until properly seared and meat easily releases from the pan.
Transfer sautéed meat to a plate and allow the cutlets to rest for a few minutes before serving so the juices will redistribute through the meat. Season meat cutlets again if desired before serving.