Sautéing Chicken

Sautéing is a cooking method that quickly cooks the chicken using a little oil and high heat. Olive oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, and soy oil are commonly used oils. 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 chicken requires the use of another cooking method, such as braising, to finish the cooking process.

The type of chicken cooked using this method is generally skinless, boneless chicken breasts , which are generally served with a sauce made from the pan drippings. The breasts are most often pounded to form cutlets, which provides breast pieces that are more even in thickness, preventing areas of the breast from becoming overdone while trying to get thicker areas to the proper doneness. Chicken breasts can also be purchased already made into cutlets.


To sauté, preheat pan to condition it before adding oil.


Add only enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. 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 chicken so it will begin to cook immediately once it its placed in the pan.


  The chicken can be lightly dredged in flour before being placed in the pan. The light flour coating helps provide a good surface color when sautéing, but is not required. Seasoning, such as salt, pepper and other herbs or rubs, should be applied before cooking to enhance the flavor of the chicken as it cooks.


Place the chicken pieces with the best side down so that when they are finished cooking, they will be served with the best side up.

Cook the first side until it is a golden brown color. Then, using tongs, turn the pieces over and finish cooking on the second side. The chicken pieces should not touch each other and they should only be turned once. Turning them more than once can affect their color and flavor.


If necessary, adjust the heat during cooking. When properly done, the chicken can be removed from the pan and if desired, a sauce can be made from the pan drippings.


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