Many recipes say “Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes” Then you add l


Lori T. June 17, 2020
Although you are not caramelizing sugars, you are releasing flavor compounds which are fat soluble for best flavor distribution. I think you might find a good explanation of this principle at

You can of course skip the step- unless there are kitchen prep police where you live. You will lose a bit of flavor in some cases, but the only taste buds you have to please are your own. If you don't mind, I certainly won't complain.
[email protected] June 17, 2020
I am impress. The answer was scientifically sound and not an opinion.
I was preparing Ragu Bolognese. It has hamburger and veal.
These ingredients contain fat. Would that fat dissolve the same compounds in a water based solution?
Lori T. June 18, 2020
No. Oil- or in this case fat, and water do not mix. Fat does not dissolve in water- it melts, spreads out, and as it tends to be denser than the liquid- floats on top of the liquid. That's why you are able to skim off excess fat. While some of the fat soluble flavor compounds might be caught in some of the liquidized fat- most will not be. After all, your veggies will tend to be closer to the bottom of your pot and surrounded primarily by water. Since they are not as likely to meet, they are not as likely to share their flavor compounds. I know- you will be stirring the pot periodically. So perhaps some sharing would happen. Just not as much as if you simply saute the aromatics in a bit of oil at the start- before you add in liquid. The small amounts of water contained in the veggies themselves will evaporate in the heat, and there will be more opportunity for the fat and fat soluble flavor compounds to intermix. Fat soluble things and water soluble things don't mix. It's kind of like the way your oil and vinegar salad dressing won't actually mix. If you want pronounced garlic flavor, you infuse the oil- not the vinegar, because those flavors just don't play in liquids much. You can salt the oil all day long, but never get it to taste salty since it will only dissolve in water or the vinegar.
The amount of flavor you would miss out on is a matter of conjecture though. It will not have the same depth of flavor if you simply add in your aromatics without the saute step- but I imagine a lot of time pressed Italian moms and grandmothers have done just that, and nobody has suffered greatly. I understand wishing to reduce dietary fat, so perhaps consider a slight change. You could opt to use a lower fat ground meat, for example. If your recipe calls for you to brown the ground meats, you could skip the full measure of the oil, and saute the aromatics along with your ground meats. That would be the best option to capture your aromatic compounds without additional fat, and still get the best distribution and development of them.
[email protected] June 17, 2020
Many recipes say “Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes”
Then you add liquids and simmer forever.
Since I am not browning the vegetables (below the Maillard Reaction) why not skip that step, and avoid the extra oil, and let the simmering process soften the vegetables?
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