Sweating risotto veggies

Joined Dec 7, 2009
I am using a good cookbook in which a recipe says to sweat the onion and fennel in a risotto recipe as opposed to the normal saute routine I always read about.

I understand sweating is done at a lower temp with the cover on. Is this just some minor technicality?
Joined Sep 23, 2009
For me, a saute is a screaming hot pan, high heat, and constant movement of the food, lots of colour and flavour. Sweating is low heat, uncovered, and can be stirred lazily every once in a while to make sure nothing is sticking, no colour.

The best example (for me) of sweating is onions. An onion is sweated when it no longer has a 'spicy' raw onion taste, and is translucent.

FWIW: I prefer sweated onions in risotto.
Joined Sep 5, 2007
to me it all depends on the finished product you wish to achieve,
browning your onions and fennel will give you that caramelized flavor -but it can also turn your risotto a murky-grey-beige color, now if it's, say, a mushroom risotto thats fine, -but a seafood risotto should be pristine and white (or golden saffron color)
Joined Sep 28, 2008
Yah, this distinction is what drives me nuts from time to time. To saute means to cook something over high heat in a little amount of fat. The word comes from the French verb Sauter, which means literally, "To Jump".

When you are sweating something, you are drawing out the liquids to soften your food. You start it off at medium heat, and stir it until your item has softened. (In the case of the onion above, you are cooking and stirring until it is translucent.)

What drives me nuts - when you see a sweating application called "sauted". Call it a pet peeve. :)
Joined Feb 1, 2007
when you see a sweating application called "sauted". Call it a pet peeve. :)

Or worse, when the directions say: "saute in a little water......" That one has always bugged me.

Kevin: No need to cover the pan when sweating. Just work on a low to medium heat, and occasionally give the veggies a toss. Once they have softened (by giving up some of their liquid, dontchasee, thus "sweating") and the alliums turn translucent, you're ready for the next step.
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