In its traditional form, sauteing relies on oil or butter for its rich flavor. However, fat-free sauteing relies on liquids—such as chicken or vegetable broth, apple or lemon juice, nonfat salad dressing, flavored vinegars or wine, plus seasonings—to produce results that are just as tasty and healthier for you.
In fat-free sauteing, the meat (pork, chicken breasts or steak, for instance) is first seared in a shallow nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for a short time on both sides until no longer pink. Then the liquid (broth, wine, etc.) is added to enhance the flavor of the meat as it finishes cooking. As the liquid is reduced (boiled down), it results in a slightly thickened flavorful sauce, which is served with the meat.
Seafood and vegetables, on the other hand, are generally cooked right in the liquid, without being seared first. Vegetables are done when they are crisp-tender.
Tips for Sauteing
- If the thickness of boneless meat is uneven, pound the meat to flatten it. Vegetables should be cut into same-size pieces.
- Be sure to leave space in the pan between meat chunks or vegetable pieces when cooking them.
- Add any fresh herbs toward the end of the cooking time, so they don't lose their flavor.
Delicate shrimp picks up fabulous flavor when it's sauteed in chicken broth mixed with garlic and ripe olives in Zippy Shrimp (shown above right) from our Test Kitchen.
Onion, garlic and red wine mingle with beef broth in a pleasant sauce that's similar to au jus in Peppered Beef in Garlic Sauce developed by our Test Kitchen home economists.