“You learn to cook so that you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.”
I always recommend that people learn how to cook, not learn how to make recipes.
When you know how to pan-fry a chicken breast, you also know how to pan-fry a piece of steak, a duck breast, a pork chop, a piece of fish, and so on. Of course, there are going to be variations in cooking times between ingredients, which comes through practice.
Since pan-frying (and pan-roasting) is my most commonly used technique for cooking, I’m a fan of this being the first one you learn and master.
There are a couple things that most people get wrong when cooking food in a pan on the stove. First, always preheat the pan. Never put cold ingredients in a hot pan. Second, always let your ingredients temper and come to room temperature (especially steak). Third, season ingredients before putting them in pan, half-way through cooking, add a bit to finish. That’s how you build flavor.
The Pan-Frying/Pan-Roasting Technique:
- Preheat pan on stove.
- Add cooking oil and let coat pan (pastured butter, coconut/MCT oil, ghee, lard, tallow).
- Season both sides of ingredient.
- Carefully place into pan away from you.
- Let cook and develop a “crust” (color = flavor).
- Flip. *If item sticks, let it go a bit longer until you can shake pan and it releases from pan.
- Let other side cook until crust is formed.
- If ingredient is cooked-through, you can let rest for a minute or two and serve. If ingredient needs more cooking, place entire pan in 350 oven until finished.
Serve and enjoy.
This technique can be used to cook any ingredient. There are many nuances from ingredient to ingredient, which you will learn the more you experiment with ingredients.
After you get the hang of this technique, learn how to make a pan sauce. These two techniques can change your life.
Start with chicken, then try steak and fish. After that, experiment with vegetables, sweet potatoes (cubed or sliced thin), squash, whatever. One tip is use small dice or thinly sliced ingredients that will finish cooking through after a few minutes on each side. Again, this will come with experience and practice.
Get in the kitchen and start pan-frying!
Founder/CEO, Wild Foods