Frying, searing and browning, in sauté pans, are cooking methods used on meats, fish, poultry, and vegetables. The cooking method makes the most of the maillard reaction, adding a dark, relatively crispy outer layer to the ingredients used. The aim is to quickly cook the ingredients, usually while adding flavor, without allowing them to get soggy from being crowded or cooking too slowly. As with pots, sheet pans, and almost any other piece of kitchen equipment, the type of material and weight of the sauté pan used affects the resulting dishes. By purchasing the right types of saucepans, cooks can prepare the best dishes possible with their ingredients by cooking on the stove.
The material that a sauce pan should be made of depends on the dish being prepared. For example, omelets are easiest to prepare in a nonstick pan, since they need to be cooked delicately and flipped halfway through cooking. Meats, fish, and poultry should be prepared on a grill pan or a relatively nonstick pan, since they need heat transfer to be even, and the ingredient needs to be flipped during the cooking on the stove. Stir fry is simplified when prepared in a wok, a curved pan, but a flat sauté pan is better for pancakes, fritters, and many other dishes, since the flat shape makes it easy to evenly cook the foods, which still allowing them to be flipped easily. In addition to the material of the sauté pan, its weight is also important.
A heavy sauté pan will heat up more slowly, but have better heat transfer than a light sauté pan. For thick pieces of meat and poultry, which need thorough cooking for extended cooking times, heavy sauté pans will be the most convenient. For omelets and, often, fish, having a light, nonstick pan will prevent the raw ingredients from getting overdone and sticking to the sauté pan because of the high heat, making it the most convenient type of saucepan to use.
How to Make the Most of a Sauté Pan
Sauté pans are useful for more than just cooking raw ingredients. Once a protein is cooked through, a sauté pan can be deglazed in order to use it to its maximum potential. Adding liquid ingredients such as stock and wine, along with spices and seasonings, can be used to create sauces to enhance dishes and elevate the culinary level offered in a dining establishment. Sauté pans are a great way to quickly cook ingredients while allowing them to keep their form, adding flavors, and preventing them from softening too much by being overcrowded in the pan. Therefore, a sauté pan should be big enough to comfortably allow the ingredients to be exposed to air, while still touching the bottom of the pan. Sauté pans are one of the most used items of kitchen equipment in restaurants. Their versatility and helpfulness in the kitchen are best when the right type of sauté pan is used.