Thank goodness for friends! One of mine, pointed out that a great number of my recipes start out with sautéing onions, garlic and other veggies. And she wanted to know how I square sautéing with a low-fat diet.
Made me realize that she, along with a lot of other people, think that sautéing is synonymous with frying. Actually, the way I think about it is somewhat different.
First of all, let’s explore the term sauté. The word is French and means jumped or bounced. In traditional French cooking it means browning food to seal in the juices by bouncing it around in a small amount of very hot oil.
Basically you use a large, shallow pan. Add a very small amount of oil to the pan. Then turn the heat up high to get the oil very hot. As the pan heats, you roll the oil around the bottom to make sure that it spreads evenly.. Once the oil is hot, you throw in your small veggie pieces. Make sure that the food is only one layer deep – not a big pile of several layers. Once the veggies are in the pan the trick is to keep them moving. You can use a spatula or my preferred method of shaking the pan. The trick is in the elbow.
The thing is you don’t need to use oil! And in fact I often don’t.
Instead of oil I start with about 2 Tablespoons of veggie stock (or water in a pinch) instead of the oil. I keep extra liquid handy, and add it if the pan gets to dry. I add about 2 Tablespoons at a time as needed. The other thing to remember is that onions have lots of natural juices and will actually sauté in a hot non-stick pan all by themselves. Just use a non-stick pan and keep the food moving!
Finally a word about broth. There are a couple of very clean, commercial products available. For example Pacific Foods has a great liquid product. But be warned: this is a place where label reading is super important! Just because it says organic or “no MSG” on the package it ain’t necessarily so! Make sure there are no “natural flavors” or chemicals are added!
The best bet is to make your own. It is really, really easy! Here is my method:
I get a big freezer bag and put all my veggie scraps in it; sometimes I end up with several bags before I get around to making broth. The point is you gather scraps and freeze them so that there is no rush about when you use them. I include pretty much every scrap of plant material from green bean tails and jalapeno seeds to zucchini ends and corn cobs. The more types of veggies I use the better! So I include things like:
- Carrot tops, lettuce and beet greens
- Veggies or herbs that are starting to go bad
- Spinach, cabbage, and kale stems and leaves
- Onion and garlic skins
- All unused celery and peppers
- Tomato ends.
Eventually I have enough scraps or the mood strikes and I make the broth:
- Put the Dutch Oven and throw in the frozen veggies (make sure it is no more than 1/2 to 2/3 full)
- Cover the frozen veggies with water
- Add a bit of salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil and then turn to simmer (very low)
- Simmer for at least 2 hours ( I have been known to let it simmer for 8 to 10 hours), stirring every so often and adding water if needed
- Remove the pot from the heat and using a large strainer, strain out all the veggies so all you have left is juice. Throw away the overcooked veggies; they’ve done their job!
- That juice is the broth
The broth is good for 2-3 weeks if kept in the fridge. It can be frozen if you make too big of a batch. It is a great staple to keep in the kitchen and to use for sautéing almost anything!