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Nyonya Delicacies

Making a Chicken Saute

(Newsletter Issue #009)


How to make a chicken saute

A chicken sauté is intensely flavorful because the chicken pieces are cooked entirely in a small amount of fat such as butter or live oil on top of the stove. Sautéing the chicken pieces this way leaves them well caramelized, crispy and very flavorful. When the chicken is done, serve it as is or make a sauce out of the caramelized juices that are left clinging to the bottom of the sauté pan. Classic and imaginative garnitures can be added for more complexity and to vary the flavor.

Kitchen Notes

  • Sauté chicken in whole butter, extra virgin olive oil or rendered duck or bacon fat. The choice of fat should be consistent with the character of the dish and the garniture (example, use olive oil with Mediterranean ingredients such as tomatoes and butter for cream sauces)

  • You'll need 2 to 3 tablespoons fat to sauté 1 chicken.

  • Sauté over medium to high heat.

  • Sauté skin side down first and serve the chicken skin side up because this side is more attractive. Sautéing the skin side first diminishes the risk of sticking and saves you turning the pieces over again when serving.

  • Test the doneness of the chicken by pressing gently with your finger on the thickest part. When the chicken is done, the meat springs back. If the chicken is uncooked, the meat will feel fleshy.

  • After discarding some or all of the fat, deglaze the pan with wine, stock, spirits, cream, chopped tomato and/or a combination.

  • Unlike steaks and chops, chicken doesn't need to be started in an extremely hot pan in order to brown well. It is because it takes longer to cook through, the chicken will brown well over medium heat. The skin, which browns and releases its fat, forms a crispy coating that seals in the chicken's juices.

  • Sauté chicken mostly skin side down so the fat in the skin has a chance to render and the skin to turn crispy.

  • To keep the chicken from sticking, use a nonstick pan or well-seasoned skillet. If the skin sticks to the bottom of the pan as you're trying to turn the chicken, wait a minute or two. Often, as the fat in the skin continues to render, the skin will come loose from the pan.

Sauteed Chicken Breast and Thights with Mushroom SauceSaute Chicken Breast and Thighs

with Mushroom Sauce






1. Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed pan just large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it skin side down in the pan. 5. Add sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms brown and any liquid they release has completely evaporated.
2. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the skin turns golden brown. Turn the chicken pieces over. 6. Add white wine and simmer over high heat until it reduces to about 2 tablespoons.
3. Cook on the flesh side for about 10 minutes, or until the flesh springs back when you press on it. Transfer the chicken to a plate or platter. 7. Add brown chicken stock and reduce to a lightly syrupy consistency.
4. Pour out all but about a tablespoon of the fat left in the pan, Place over high heat, add shallots, and stir for about a minute until they release their fragrance. 8. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the sautéed chicken.

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