Making Incredible Pan Sauces at Home
- By The Reluctant Gourmet
If you want to elevate your cooking skills to a new level
and add a whole lot more to your gastronomy repertoire, learn how to make a
simple pan sauce. With this technique in your cooking bag of tricks, you can
turn a simple pan-fried steak into a mouth- watering meal, a plain boneless
chicken breast into a delicious feast, or a modest pork chop into a
scrumptious banquet. Ok, maybe I'm stretching a bit but check this out.
Restaurants chefs use this technique all the time. Basically
they cook something in a sauté pan over pretty high heat until it's done and
leaves a bunch of brown caramelize bits of "stuff" in the pan. You look at this
"stuff" in the pan and say to yourself, "Now how am I going to clean this
'stuff' off the pan? What a mess! I wish I had used a non stick pan."
The "stuff" has a name, it's called "fond" and you want that
"fond" stuck to your pan because it is packed with incredible flavors. It's also
easy to remove by adding a little liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon to
dissolve it. This is called deglazing and can be done with wine, brandy,
fortified wines, stock, cider, fruit juices or most typically a combination of
two. Just be careful if you use wine to remove the pan from the heat so the
alcohol doesn't ignite and blow up in your face. I've spoken with chefs who have
seen this happen.
The next steps are to continue to cook the liquid in the pan
until it is reduced by half and finish by adding several pats of butter to
thicken and enhance the flavor of the sauce. If you ever knew how much butter
professional chefs use in restaurants to "enhance" flavor, you would be amazed.
I sometimes think they make their dishes too rich because I get that
uncomfortable "too full" feeling later on, but then again, it's so good while
Now those are just the basics. To create more complexity to the
sauce you'll want to add some aromatics like garlic or shallots for a subtle but
additional layer of flavor. Then you might want to add some additional
ingredients such as mushrooms, mustards, chutneys, herbs and/or spices to give
even more complexity and flavor.
For more information on making
classic and quick pan sauces at home including what kind of pan to use, how
much deglazing liquid to use and two example recipes for the same sauce, one
classic and the other quick go to
Copyright (c) G. Stephen Jones, The Reluctant Gourmet G. Stephen Jones
created the Reluctant Gourmet back in 1997 as a hobby to assist other novice
cooks who may find the art of cooking a little daunting. As an ex-Wall
Street broker and Stay- at-Home Dad, I try to explore cooking from a
different perspective. Visit
for more tips, techniques, and recipes.