Gluten-Free Dinners in Less Than 30 Minutes: The Science of Sautéing

I have been teaching gluten-free cooking and baking classes for many years and once a new student gets the basic gluten-free substitutions down the next request I get is usually about learning how to prepare healthy delicious gluten-free dinners in 30 minutes or less. My answer is always the same: learn how to roast and sauté. Many people understand the concept of roasting but sautéing is something new. I love to sauté because the selection is endless. And with More Than Gourmet® Glace & Demi Glace, I am turning out restaurant quality food that is plate licking delicious!

What is a glace and demi-glace?  A glace is flavorful, reduced stock. A demi-glace is a sauce made from stock, roux (a cooked mixture of butter and flour), caramelized vegetables, herbs and sometimes wine and tomato paste.  It has a very concentrated flavor and is used to enhance sauces, sautés, stews, and soups.  Many demi-glaces’ on the market contain wheat, but More Than Gourmet® makes a gluten free line. Always remember to read the ingredients label- companies change recipes! A demi-glace gives a sauce that deep complex flavor you taste at restaurants. I use a demi-glace to flavor a reduction sauce for when I sauté.

Sautéing or pan-frying is a great way to get dinner on the table fast. Tender, single size portions of meat, poultry or fish are cooked in a small amount of oil or other fat in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat. The food is not submerged in the fat as it is in deep-frying. Pans for sautéing should be hot enough for food to “sizzle” but not smoke. It is important that the food is dry before placing it in a hot pan and, that the pan stays hot during the cooking process.

After the meat, poultry or fish is sautéed, it is removed from the pan to a nearby dish and covered with foil. The hot pan is deglazed by adding a small amount of liquid (usually stock, wine, or vinegar) which is stirred to loosen browned, caramelized bits of food on the bottom. The resultant mixture becomes the basis for a quick pan sauce.

A good, solid, deep-sided frying pan (or skillet) is an invaluable piece of kitchen equipment. I use an assortment of inexpensive nonstick (6”, 10” and 12” diameter and 1” to 2” deep) and heavy grade (12” diameter and 2” deep with tight fitting lid) skillets and fry pans.

My basic sauté method in five steps:

1.      Sauté Prepare meat, poultry or seafood according to recipe. Heat oil and/or butter in heavy skillet over medium/high to high heat. Add meat and cook without moving pieces until underside is brown. Turn meat, rearrange position in pan and brown other side. Don’t crowd the pan or the food will steam rather than brown.

2.      Flavor Remove meat to plate and set aside. Add garlic, shallots, onions, or mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes.

3.      Deglaze Add broth, wine or vinegar to pan, scraping loose the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

4.      Reduce Add remaining sauce ingredients (such as tomato, cream and/or seasonings) and bring to boil, stirring frequently for desired time. Boiling reduces sauce and creates a more flavorful sauce.

5.      Serve Return meat to sauce and cook for additional time or pour sauce over meat and serve immediately.

For a delicious “ready in 20 minutes” Gluten-Free Chicken Marsala recipe go to: http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/dbfiles062804/printerfriendly.cfm?ID=74

For more information and recipes go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com and The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook.

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