How to Make a Simple Pan Sauce
Pan sauces sound mysterious, but they're not. They're one pot cooking at its best! No need to get another pot dirty; just use the one you cooked your meat in. Pan sauces are generally intensely flavored, and since they are based on reduction, make sure you don't add too much salt. Here's what you'll need and how to do it.
Pan Sauce for 2 servings *
- Pan with fond from the meat you cooked that is now resting
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
- ¼ cup deglazing liquid, such as stock broth or wine
- ¼ cup secondary liquid to balance the deglazing liquid
- A bit of fat for mouth feel
- Minced complementary herbs
- While meat is resting, sauté shallots/onion in the fat left in the pan (add a bit of oil if there is no fat)
- With the heat on high, pour in your deglazing liquid and stir up all the fond from the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce by ½ - this will not take long - watch it carefully.
- Add the balancing liquid ** and reduce until thickened and syrupy
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. You probably won't need salt, but you might want to add some pepper.
- Off the heat, swirl in a splash of heavy cream or a bit of butter. This will give your sauce a lovely gloss and rich mouth feel.
- Strain (if you want to) and add some minced herbs to finish.
* Since these amounts are for only two servings, the deglazing and reduction will happen quickly. To make more for a larger crowd, understand that it will take longer to reduce the sauce to the correct consistency.
** Examples of liquids that will balance each other (depending on the meat): fruit juice and stock, wine and stock, cognac/brandy and stock, beer and stock... Do you see a pattern developing?
More On Pan Sauces
For a more detailed look at pan sauces including a look at the right pan to use, how much liquid works best, classic pan sauces vs. quick pan sauces and a whole lot more, check out Making Incredible Pan Sauces at Home.