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How to Sweat Vegetables

What does it mean when the recipe says to "sweat" the vegetables with butter?

Really it's not the prettiest image you can come up with, is it? Not exactly what you want to be picturing as you're getting dinner on the table. Well, no matter. Cooking isn't always pretty, you know.

Sweating is a classical technique of cooking food over low heat in a little fat, generally in a covered pan. It is most often done with vegetables, and the point is that they soften and cook in their own juices without browning. You can sweat vegetables in the oven, but most often it is done on top of the stove.

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