As excited as I was for my Secrets to Sautéing class to begin, when it came time to face the stove, I started to get a bit nervous. While I joke about my smoke detector going off while I cook, I’m actually not a bad cook — it’s just that my “skillet skills” were in need of a serious brush up. I take after my mother in the kitchen: I’m most comfortable baking, roasting, or slow-cooking.
So, I took a few deep breaths and sat down at the kitchen table for my next lesson, “sautéing.” Because I was told the cooking school would work in an iPad, I borrowed one and tried it out. This week’s lesson started with an introduction to sautéing techniques using a few detailed videos featuring Bridget Lancaster, the very reliable and friendly host of the Cooking School. Bridget walked through the ins and outs of sautéing different foods, including how to make chicken cutlets, prep the skillet, estimate the heat level, and create quick pan sauces.
After I finished watching the instructional videos, it was time to practice cutting the chicken cutlet. I’ll admit, after watching the sections on sautéing chicken and fish, I was more than a little eager to do something active in the kitchen. But, I just wish it involved something other than raw chicken. While I’m a huge fan of eating chicken, I can think of almost 1,000 things I’d rather do before digging my hands into a pile of raw chicken breasts.
But, this was the first “assignment” of the cooking school. This meant that after I was done, I had to snap a photograph and submit it, along with commentary, to my Test Kitchen Instructor, David Pazmino, for further evaluation and feedback. I like being a straight-A student. I took a few more deep breaths, picked up my knife and clicked play.
As I should have expected, Bridget was right there in video form to walk me through each and every step of this messy, squishy, and slightly awkward process. If attempting this feat on your own for the first time, make sure to listen carefully so you don’t lose a finger. And remember to apply enough pressure when holding the chicken in place – they’re sneaky and slippery!
While I managed to get enough cutlets for the next recipe, that was only the case because I forgot how to count and ended up buying a couple of extra breasts. I wish I could say I’m now a chicken cutlet-cutting genius, but sadly that’s not the case quite yet. There is good news though — now that I’ve plowed through more than a few pounds of chicken, I’m no longer as grossed out and am even willing to keep practicing.
Next up: I’m heading into the kitchen to make my first recipe, Chicken Saltimbocca. The recipe is my chance to really put all of the instruction into action. Once I’ve finished cooking, I will then need to complete another self-evaluation and submit photos for further review. Oh, the pressure!
Thankfully, I have virtual Bridget there to walk me through the nitty gritty of each step, which means that I’m pretty sure I won’t be serving my friends dry, tasteless chicken. And, as is custom with America’s Test Kitchen recipes, I can read up on the recipe background, supplies needed, and mishaps to watch for, so that I am well-prepared before even turning on the burner. Once it’s finished, I know I will be waiting on pins and needles for David’s evaluation, feedback and, hopefully, his stamp of approval.
AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN COOKING SCHOOL GIVEAWAY
Do you want to learn skillet skills the America’s Test Kitchen way? Leave us a comment telling us why you want to be a part of the America’s Test Kitchen Online Cooking School and you could win your own enrollment in Secrets to Sautéing, a 4-week course with a test kitchen instructor.
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