How To Make A Pan Sauce
Anyone can elevate a dish by being able to make a simple pan sauce. In classic French cooking there are five basic mother sauces, but anyone can easily make two simple ones by just understanding the techniques and not worry about a recipe. Here’s all the ingredients you will need.
- meat of choice
- 2 shallots , finely chopped
- white wine or whipping cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh chopped herbs (eg: parsley, thyme, tarragon)
Step 1: Saute
The first step in making a pan sauce is to begin sauteing your meat of choice. This can be chicken breasts, or thighs or perhaps a pork chops. While you are heating your pan to medium-high, season your meat with salt and pepper. Then once your pan is hot, drizzle with oil and add your seasoned meat. You will want to cook the meat for at least 2 to 6 minutes (depending on the thickness of your meat) so that you get a nice browning on each side. Once your meat is browned on both sides you will notice the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Never fear, that is just all flavour we call the “fond” and we will use it to create the sauce.
Step 2: Deglaze To Develop
Once your meat is browned, remove them to a plate and add chopped shallot to the hot pan (about 1/2 per piece of meat) and let that saute for about 30 seconds. Then add wine/water/stock even bourbon or brandy, but you might want to remove the pan from the heat if you use either of the latter two. This is also known as the aromatic and adds a little bit of acid to the sauce. This step also removes that “fond” or browned bits from the bottom of the pan and puts it in the sauce. Additional aromatics can be added at this point if you wish such as Dijon mustard (a dollop), mushrooms or herbs.
Step 3: Thickening The Sauce
Cream Sauce: To make a cream sauce, you can add whipping cream to the pan after the wine and allow it to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. It must be whipping cream and not milk or light cream in order for it to thicken properly. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Pour over the meat and garnish with fresh chopped herbs if desired.
Butter Sauce: Once the liquid has evapourated by half, remove the pan from the heat. Begin to add cold unsalted butter, a tablespoon at a time, swirling the pan so the butter blends into the sauce before adding the next tablespoon. The cold butter is what thickens the sauce. You don’t want each tablespoon of butter to melt completely before adding the next one. You want to hold the butter between a state of melted and solid and that’s what adds body to the sauce. Once the sauce is thickened enough, pour over the meat and garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
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