Today in school, we learned about braising (le braiser) chicken two different ways. One way is considered a brown (a brun) braise and the other, a white (a blanc) braise. Not only did I learn a whole lot about braising chicken, but I also learned the exact difference between sautéing vegetables and sweating vegetables; and when to perform which.
Many times when we hear the word “sauté,” we automatically think to throw some vegetables into a pot with butter and/or oil and let it do it’s thing. I can only speak for myself, but I did think that sautéing and sweating vegetables were rather similar. Apparently, I was quite wrong, but hey, that’s why I’m in culinary school. During class demonstrations, Chef always advises us to take notes while he is speaking and cooking. If he repeats something 3 times, I know I better jot it down. By the way, Chef is from Brooklyn, so his way of teaching comes off blunt with dry sarcasm. He has had an extremely successful career in the food industry, working as an executive chef in multiple fine dining restaurants and hotels.
Anyways, we went through the proper steps of braising a chicken two, separate ways. For the brown braise, he said he would sauté the vegetables. Sautéing means to cook over high heat while stirring and tossing frequently to enhance color. For the white braise, he said he would sweat or suer the vegetables. Suer means to gently cook vegetables in a little fat without coloring over low heat to bring out the flavor. When you suer an onion, you cook it low and slow until it is transparent. On the other hand, sautéing an onion would be to cook it until it has a golden brown color. I thought it was interesting because I’ve always read different recipes that either want the vegetables caramelized or want them transparent, and I never knew why or the true difference.
Here are the finished products of both braised chickens! Looks good, right?!