The Simple Art of Cooking: Superior Sauté

The French word sauter means “to jump.” To sauté is to cook quickly and brown food in a skillet containing a small amount of hot butter, oil or other fat. Foods that can be cut into equal pieces, such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, small boneless steaks, and fish fillets, are ideal to sauté in a sturdy pan, which allows for even cooking. When cooking this way, do not crowd the pan or foods will steam in their own juices and not brown evenly or crisply. A quick sauté also allows for precious drippings to form in the bottom of the pan for an eventual sauce, if the recipe calls for it.

Petti di pollo alla Senese, is simply sautéed chicken breasts with lemon and parsley, Sienna, Italy style. Here instruction offers a technique to cut the chicken breasts into paillards or into thin, even slices so they cook in about one minute a side. To deglaze pan juices lemon juice is added to finish the sauce. Garides me feta is a classic Greek dish rich with shrimp, white wine and feta cheese. The shrimp can be shelled and deveined up to a day ahead and refrigerated. The sauce may be prepared up to a couple of hours ahead. The shrimp is added in the final minutes of cooking and served with a sprinkle of parsley. The juices from this tasty dish cry out for cooked rice, which can be prepared ahead as rice holds its heat in the pan up to 40 to 45 minutes. This is good, fast, delicious eating. Enjoy!



Sautéed chicken breasts with lemon and parsley

Serves 6


6 boneless and skinless chicken breast fillets

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

4 tablespoons lemon juice

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1 lemon, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)


1. Trim and discard excess fat from chicken breasts. Hold each breast flat with the palm of your hand and slice the breast parallel to the cutting board, dividing the piece in two even layers. Remove and discard the white tendon that protrudes from the smaller piece of the fillet.


2. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, sauté the chicken fillets on both sides very briefly, about 1 minute on each side.


3. Transfer the fillets to a warm platter and sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.


4. Add the lemon juice to the skillet and turn up the heat. With a wooden spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze the pan juices, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary. Add remaining tablespoon butter and parsley to the cooking juices and stir to mix. Lower heat to a bare simmer and add the cooked fillets. Turn them over in the sauce once or twice to coat.


5. Transfer fillets to a warm serving platter and pour over the lemon/parsley sauce. Serve at once, garnished with lemon slices if desired.



This Greek classic is a favorite at tavernas near Piraeus.

Serves 4


1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced

8 to 10 cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup dry white wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled

Fresh parsley for garnish


Rinse the shrimp and drain on paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with

lemon juice.


Heat oil in a large skillet and sauté the shallots for 40 to 50 seconds until tender. Add

the garlic and sauté for a few seconds longer. Add the bell pepper slices and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, tossing the mixture. Add tomatoes, herbs, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary and remove from heat. Can be prepared ahead to this point.


Meanwhile place prepared shrimp on a plate and sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange shrimp one layer deep in the sauce. Toss crumbled feta over the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Turn each shrimp and place cover ajar; cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and serve.


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