Sautéing Pork

Sautéing is a dry heat cooking method that quickly cooks the pork using a little oil and high heat. The types of pork best suited for sautéing are the more tender lean cuts, such as loin chops, tenderloin medallions, cutlets, and ground patties. They are often served with a sauce made from the pan drippings. The oil used must be able to withstand high heat without burning. Olive oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, and soy oil are commonly used oils when sautéing. Butter can also be used but it should be used in combination with oil so that the butter does not burn when exposed to the high heat used for sautéing.

Sautéing and the searing process, used in browning the meat in the beginning steps of braising, are basically the same methods of cooking, except searing browns the meat but does not completely cook it. Sautéing browns the meat and it also thoroughly cooks the meat. Seared pork requires the use of another cooking method, such as braising or roasting, to finish the cooking process. When sautéing, the meat is generally thinner and smaller in size, which allows it to completely cook during the sautéing process.

To sauté, use a medium-high heat in order to preheat the pan to condition it before adding oil. Add only enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan to prevent food from sticking. A nonstick pan or a well-seasoned pan may not require as much oil. Be sure the pan and cooking oil are at the proper temperature before adding the meat so that it will begin to cook immediately once it is placed in the pan. The meat should be cut into small pieces that are ½ inch or less in thickness and fairly uniform in size. Season the cuts with salt, pepper and any other required herbs or rubs. The meat should be seasoned before cooking to enhance its flavor as it cooks.

  • Remove excess moisture from the pork by patting dry with a paper towel and then season as desired.

  • If desired, the pork cuts can be dredged in flour before being placed in the pan. The flour helps provide a good surface color when sautéing, but it is not required.

  • Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet using medium-high heat until the oil is very hot but do not let it start browning. The oil should be heated to a temperature high enough so that when the meat is added it will sizzle and begin to cook the meat immediately.

  • The meat should be sautéed uncovered and the pieces should have enough room in the pan so that they do not touch each other.

  • Cook the first side until golden brown in color, approximately 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the pieces over and finish cooking on the second side, again for approximately 3 minutes. Pieces should only be turned once. Turning them more than once can affect their color and flavor.
  • Adjust the heat if necessary while cooking. When finished cooking, the meat can be removed from the pan and served immediately.

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