Are you looking for a way to upgrade your weeknight cooking? Making a pan sauce could be a solution, and an easy addition to your meals whenever you sear meat. Learning how to make a pan sauce will elevate the flavors in the recipes you already know and make them even better.
What Is a Pan Sauce?
A pan sauce is the combination of fond, aromatics, liquid, thickener, and fat. Fond is the browned bits left on the bottom of a stainless steel skillet after you sear meat. It’s a source of flavor and deglazed with a liquid like wine, broth, or juice. It’s important to use a stainless steel skillet because it forms a caramelized, deep-brown sear on meat, something you can’t get with a nonstick skillet.
How to Make a Pan Sauce
- Clear the pan. Once you’ve finished cooking your meat, transfer it to a separate plate but don’t clean the pan (remember, you want that fond).
- Add flavor. This step is optional and depends on your taste. Aromatic vegetables like onions, mushrooms, shallots, or garlic add extra flavor to your fond. If your pan doesn’t have about a tablespoon (15 mL) of fat leftover from browning your protein, you can add oil.
- Deglaze the pan. With the pan on medium-high heat, add about 1 cup (250 mL) of liquid like broth, wine, or lemon juice. If you want to add wine to the sauce, don’t add a full cup. You want the wine to complement the sauce, not overpower it. To get a flavorful sauce using a wine of your choice, add ¼ cup (60 mL) of wine and ¾ cup (175 mL) of broth. Then, scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve the fond.
- Simmer the sauce. Turn down the heat on the pan and leave it uncovered for 3–5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and you can see dry spots in the pan.
- Add butter. Stir in a little butter to make the sauce rich. Whisk gently until the butter has completely melted.
- Whisk in cornstarch (optional). If you want a thicker consistency, combine equal parts cornstarch and water (about 1 tsp (5 mL) of each) and whisk it into the sauce.
- Enjoy! When your pan sauce is done, drizzle it over your meal.
Want to learn how to make a pan sauce for chicken? Check out this video for Roasted Chicken & Asparagus With Pan Sauce to see how it’s done.