Cooking For Men

What is a ?

Sauté pan has a wide flat bottom, straight sides, long handle and a lid. Sometimes you'll find them with a short "helper" handle opposite the long handle like in this photo.

Saute pans, used for sauteing, have a large surface area, like a frypan, but with vertical sides, to prevent food from escaping during cooking.

Every feature of the sauté pan is important when you are using it to sauté something. That's why it is critical not to let someone sell you a fry pan or skillet as a sauté pan. Can they be used to sauté chicken breasts or filets of fish? Of course, but not as effectively as a properly designed, traditional sauté pan.

The pan to the left is a sauté pan.The concept behind sauteing is to cook food quickly over high heat in a little bit of fat (butter or oil). The term sauté comes from the French term "sauter" which means "to jump." You often see chefs in commercials or on the cooking shows tossing the pan back and forth over a giant flame sometimes flipping the ingredients in the air only to have them land perfectly back in the pan.

The saute pan is designed with a wide flat bottom so there is enough room in the pan not to crowd the ingredients. You want the ingredients to brown quickly without burning or steaming. Let's say you are sautéing some chicken breasts. If the pan is too crowded, the breasts will steam rather than brown and the end result will be soggy.

Another advantage of a flat bottom is when making the pan "jump" on the burner. A flat bottom is a lot easier to slide back and forth than a curved pan.

And most importantly, a flat bottom provides you even distribution of heat. When cooking a couple of flounder filets, you want the pan's heat to be uniformly distributed throughout the entire bottom of the pan otherwise you'll end up with unevenly cooked food.

The sides of a sauté pan are straight and also low when compared to a sauce pan. The straight sides help when making a pan sauce by keeping the liquids from spilling over the sides. They also help keep the food in the pan when making it "jump."

(I've got to tell you, I don't do much pan jumping when I'm sautéing. I'm just trying not to overcook the food but I do appreciate the straight sides when I'm stirring during reduction.)

The low sides help circulate air which helps prevent the food from getting soggy and keep the overall weight of the pan down so you can move it around a bit.

Cooking for men
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