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Question Regarding Sweating

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I am looking for a little insight on sweating. I will use cream soups as a example. So in school when we would make cream soups the instructor always told me to sweat (with a lid on the pot) the onions till translucent then add the other veges (garlic sometimes, carrot, cuc, etc).. The instructor was very clear that he didn't want the onions caramelized and to only sweat the other mirepoix and not to develop color. Well recently I worked at a resort and the head chef there wanted me to caramelize the onions and the garlic while making cream of mushroom soup. I want to know why my teacher was very strict about not doing it and this chef was pro doing it. I figure it has something to do with color and if im looking to develop a sweeter taste in the soup that the caramelized onions and garlic will give the dish a sweeter flavor. Any insight would be greatly appreciated and also why when I sweated onions till translucent at school did the chef always say to put a lid on the pot?

 

PS: I am away from school doing a internship so I can't ask my instructor.

post #2 of 15

I, too, would like to hear more about sweating onions.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #3 of 15

The only thing I see here is a difference of opinion.

Your resort Chef wants to bring out the flavor of the caramelized onions.

Your instructor didn't want that flavor in HIS cream soups.

 

While cooking onions, or any vegetable for that matter, with a lid off, the vegetables are exposed to the air and moisture will evaporate.

With a lid, the moisture is contained within the pot and not allowed to escape. The vegetables will "sweat."

post #4 of 15

It is a difference in preference, that's all.  You tell us, was the soup with caramelized onions a different color than the soup with sweated onions?  I bet it was.

 

Putting the lid on a pot causes the steam to trap inside.  It also raises the temperature inside so it is tricky as it will also speed up the cooking time.  

 

Now that you know both ways to do it you have to decide for yourself which do you like better and when to use each technique in the dishes you make.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

thank you for the replies. Much appreciated!

post #6 of 15

You will find as you go through your career that there is no such thing as a "right" way to do something (well, there are a few things...) and that there are lots of roads that lead to the same destination. As you progress, you will learn different ways of doing things and it is up to you to adopt the method that you like best...whether for ease of preparation, flavor, consistency, etc. 

 

Just remember, when you are starting out and working in someone else's kitchen, the "right" way is the way the chef-of-the-moment wants it done. He/she wants caramelized onions instead of sweated onions...? Yes chef. 

 

Also, get in the habit of ASKING YOUR CHEF why he/she does it this way. "Chef, when I made a similar soup in culinary school we used sweated onions, can you tell me why you like caramelized onions for this dish?"

 

 Why ask us? I mean, you'll get some decent answers, but there is only 1 person who truly knows. Don't be afraid to ask your chef questions...it's how you learn. Just make sure you pick the right time (not 7:30pm during dinner service). 

 

On a side note, nobody knows how to properly sweat vegetables anymore. Sometimes I ask my cooks to sweat something and I'm lucky if I get a 2 minute "wilt" of a pot of onions or vegetables before the liquid/stock goes in for the soup. I consistently have to train new people how to do this stuff...which is fine, it's part of my job, but it is remarkable how much nuance a proper sweat can give to a soup. I'm actually convinced it is why a lot of my soups taste so good (potato leek for example) is due to proper vegetable sweat. Anyways, I digress...

post #7 of 15
Sweating retains moisture and the natural sugars remain intact. Carmalizing can inhance sweetness, but can also add unwanted color and possible bitterness.
post #8 of 15

Once you've been working enough to develop practical experience you'll learn that all these methods are there to help construct your finished product. I just see them as methods that I can use to help me achieve what I want. Be glad people pay you to practice!

 

Peachcreek

What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

 

On a side note, nobody knows how to properly sweat vegetables anymore. Sometimes I ask my cooks to sweat something and I'm lucky if I get a 2 minute "wilt" of a pot of onions or vegetables before the liquid/stock goes in for the soup. I consistently have to train new people how to do this stuff...which is fine, it's part of my job, but it is remarkable how much nuance a proper sweat can give to a soup. I'm actually convinced it is why a lot of my soups taste so good (potato leek for example) is due to proper vegetable sweat. Anyways, I digress...

 

What's the proper way?  I may be guilty of a mere wilt.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

 

What's the proper way?  I may be guilty of a mere wilt.

 

It's basically the exact opposite of a sear.

 

What I do:

  1. Put some fat (oil, butter, lard, duck fat....) in a cold pan.
  2. Put the cold pan on low heat and immediately add your veggies (the fat is still cold. Some of the butter/lard/duck fat may still be solid).
  3. Immediately season the veggies so they start sweating (the natural water they contain starts coming out, preventing any caramelization).
  4. Slowly cooked until translucent and soft.

 

I would love to hear @Someday's method though.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post
 

 

It's basically the exact opposite of a sear.

 

What I do:

  1. Put some fat (oil, butter, lard, duck fat....) in a cold pan.
  2. Put the cold pan on low heat and immediately add your veggies (the fat is still cold. Some of the butter/lard/duck fat may still be solid).
  3. Immediately season the veggies so they start sweating (the natural water they contain starts coming out, preventing any caramelization).
  4. Slowly cooked until translucent and soft.

 

I would love to hear @Someday's method though.

For me there is a step 3a: cover.

 

 

I would love to hear @Someday's method too.

post #12 of 15

My point was that a lot of cooks I've worked with over the years throw some vegetables into a hot pan, stir it around for 30 seconds, and call that a sweat. It just takes more time than most cooks and chefs seem willing to spend doing it. 

 

Otherwise the method is as @French Fries described. I often use a cartouche but it's not mandatory. 

post #13 of 15
Thanks for clarifying your point. I missed it but now get it.
post #14 of 15

I, too, would like to hear more about sweating onions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

 

Otherwise the method is as @French Fries described. I often use a cartouche but it's not mandatory. 

 

in learning how to braise meats by a chef-instructor formerly with The Ritz in southern California, he, too, used a cartouche with a small hole in the middle during the braise.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 15

Someday's quote:

 

"You will find as you go through your career that there is no such thing as a "right" way to do something (well, there are a few things...) and that there are lots of roads that lead to the same destination. As you progress, you will learn different ways of doing things and it is up to you to adopt the method that you like best...whether for ease of preparation, flavor, consistency, etc."

 

Thank you so much for this. TV cooking shows are to blame for the oft times reference to "right or wrong" 

So too are Chef instructors. I will concur with you in that when you are in a Chef's kitchen....do it his/her way.

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