COOK CLUB: Sauteeing requires a cook's trust

Saute pork cutlets and serve with a curried onion and mango sauce for a simple, healthy, one-dish dinner. (Heather Younker photo)†
Saute pork cutlets and serve with a curried onion and mango sauce for a simple, healthy, one-dish dinner. (Heather Younker photo)†

One year in elementary school, I was obsessed with keeping all my English homework on one piece of paper.

I wrote in teeny tiny print to squeeze all my homework into the lined space. Not surprisingly, I got in trouble. I was even sent to the principalís office because I didnít stop after the first reprimand.

My argument that I was conserving paper didnít go far. The principal (who happened to be my grandfather) also didnít buy into my reasoning that it saved me time.

As an adult, I donít crowd the page, but I do crowd the pan. When I saute meat, I try to fit everything at once to save time and maybe even a dish or two. In the end, though, this method results in meat that is often unevenly cooked and ultimately takes longer to cook than if I had split it into two batches.

I am learning that good sauteing comes down to trust. Instead of constantly fussing with ingredients or stuffing pieces of meat into a pan like sardines, I trust that my ingredients will speak to me. Most meat will, in fact, start browning up the sides when the bottom is browned.

For this monthís Cook Club recipe, I chose to use the pork cutlet because it thin and takes mere minutes ó just two to two and a half on each side ó to cook.

While I kept the pork itself simple by seasoning it with just salt and pepper, itís topped with a flavorful curry onion and mango sauce. The sauce has a sweet note which comes from Chinese Five-Spice, a blend of cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, cloves and fennel. Since the thick sauce also includes mango and dried cranberries, I added a dash of cayenne pepper and some Dijon mustard to keep the sweet in check.

This dish is rich in taste but light on calories. And if you follow the basic rules of sauteing, it also will keep you out of the principalís office.

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