Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chef Mary's Tips on Steaming, Sauteing, & Grilling

Steaming, Sautéing, Grilling Techniques

Today is the day I will give you three basic cooking techniques- steaming, sautéing, and grilling which will start you on your culinary journey. These three culinary techniques, if done correctly, can decrease the amount of fat in your dish.

When I began cooking I had a fear of burning, over seasoning, or just plain ruining something. I tried to manage those fears by following the recipe to the T. The feeling of needing a recipe and needing to follow it to its every last word is a common fear for many. The ability to conquer those fears will allow you to maneuver the kitchen with ease- leaving the recipe behind. By leaving the recipe behind you will have more enthusiasm to cook. Cooking allows you to be in control over the foods you eat, leaving you less opportunities to eat high calorie foods. Each of these cooking techniques, steaming, sautéing and grilling, consist of cooking methods, and each method is basically the same no matter what you are cooking.

Three Cooking Techniques- Steaming, Sautéing, Grilling


Steaming is a basic cooking technique and it’s usually a client favorite. This technique allows you to cook a vegetable or protein through steam; steam can be created by water or broth. By using broth or even a court bouillon (mixture of white wine, lemon, onions, garlic and herbs) you can give the vegetable or protein another level of flavor with out the fat. Clients always favor steamed vegetables in a court bouillon because it’s a healthy and delicious way of cooking, plus it sounds gourmet. A simple technique that leaves a big impression!

Steaming Method-

. Fill a pot 1/4 of the way with a liquid of your choice

. Place steaming basket inside

. Close the lid and wait for it to start steaming

. Once the pot is steaming, place the items inside and start cooking (this should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes!


No matter what time of year, sautéing is always available and acceptable. It’s preferable to use olive oil, a monounsaturated fat (olive oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil), to make the dish better for you. Remember that it’s all about moderation and balance. You can use about a tablespoon of olive oil to sauté. You can also try using spray olive oils so that it coats the pan and you will use less than pouring it. My favorite sautéing trick is adding water 1/2 way through the cooking process. It will release the delicious brown coating (fond) on the bottom and infuse it into what you are cooking and prevent your food from burning. Keep a glass of water next to you while you are cooking.

Sautéing Method-

. Add monounsaturated oil to a pan

. Heat stove to medium high

. Salt and pepper your protein or vegetable

. Lay gently into the pan

. Cook for, 2-3 minutes (if it starts to burn turn the heat down and add a little more fat or use my trick by adding a little water to decrease the fat you put into the pan)

. Once the first side is completely brown, flip or stir and continue to cook (turn down the heat a bit if you want to cook it thru on the stove)


I adore grilling, and with a hot seasoned grill you can limit the amount of fat that you have to put on to the item that you’re grilling. Vegetables usually require close supervision on the grill so they won’t burn. I typically make thick grill lines on both sides and close the lid so the item can cook through. The only exception is asparagus; I never cover asparagus because I don’t want it to over cook.

Grilling Method-

. Season* the grill with oil

. Lightly coat the item with a light brush of olive oil

. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the item

. Heat grill to medium high

. Lay the item on the grates and cook for three to four minutes (time may vary depending on what you are cooking)

. Rotate the item counter clockwise a quarter turn and continue to cook

. Flip and repeat steps five and six

. Keep lid closed while cooking (accept with asparagus)

*Season- lightly coat the grates with olive oil. Lightly coat a rag with olive oil and when the grill is hot rub the oil onto the grates. The heat will allow the oil to flow into the expanded metal and coat it so that anything placed on the grill does not stick. Do not pour the oil directly on to the grates.

For more great Chef Mary's Cooking Tips- Please go to Washington Times Communities- Hail Mary Fod of Grace or to find out more information about Chef Mary please go to her website or email her questions for Ask Chef Mary Friday's at

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