Sear and Saute – Proteins
I just have one more post from the cooking theory class. This was our last class, and we basically learned how to sear and saute protein. In this case, it was chicken and salmon.
So, the procedure for searing is to dry off the protein, in this case salmon. Wipe it dry with paper towels. Then heat the pan until hot; you will it’s hot enough when you can no longer hold your hand over it for over 30 seconds. Then add the oil, and let the oil heat until it becomes nice and fluid. Don’t heat it too high, otherwise it might reach its ignition temperature and burst into flames. This actually happened to one of my classmates. Luckily, a chef was nearby to put a pot on it and choke the flames.
Once the oil is hot enough, season the protein (with salt and pepper) on the presentation side (the side that will be served up on the plate), and then put the protein presentation side down in the pan. The trick is to lower the protein in slowly and not splash the oil. Then, leave it alone (no peeking!) until you see the edges get brown (caramelization). Once the edges are brown, you can carefully lift up one side of the protein and check the sear. If it’s to your satisfaction, season this side, and then gently flip the protein to the other side, and do the same thing. The reason we season just before searing the side is so that the salt won’t prematurely draw out the moisture.
Now usually, searing doesn’t cook the protein all the way through, so you will have to cook it further some other way, like putting the pan in the oven, or braising. A proper saute is to sear the protein, and then put it in a hot oven to finish it off until fully cooked. The salmon, however, was so small, and fish to boot, so it did cook through.
BUTTER BASTE SAUTE
This was probably my favorite protein cooking technique. We each had a piece of chicken to try this out on, and it was really fun, and really tasty!
The process is similar to the simple sear. First, you sear the chicken presentation side down, just like above. Then, one you’ve flipped it to the other side, you carefully pour out the oil, and add lots of butter. The butter will fizzle like crazy, because the pan is still very hot.
Then, the fun part: tilt the pan over the flame, and use a spoon to ladle the butter over the chicken constantly. You really have to stay with it, and also make sure the butter doesn’t catch fire.
The butter will get very brown, so be careful that it doesn’t burn. This technique makes the skin on the chicken very brown and crispy, which is so amazing!!!
You keep pressing the chicken to see how done it is. If you’re experienced, you will be able to tell when it’s ready. If not, you can use a thermometer to check the temperature. For chicken to be fully cooked, the thickest part must reach 165 degrees F. To flavor the chicken, you can also add herbs to the butter as you baste it, for example rosemary and thyme.
So yummy!!!! I will probably make this sometime soon. Maybe with a nice risotto.