How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under How To, Meats, Tips

How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

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.”

English: Fond left in a white enamel pot after...

The fond left in the pan after cooking is the flavor for delicious pan sauces. Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 you’re dining. 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 http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pan_sauces.htm

About the author: G. Stephen Jones, The Reluctant Gourmet, created a web site 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 http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/ for more tips, techniques and recipes.

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North Carolina Style Barbecue — Pulled Pork

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Grilling and BBQ, Meats

Almost everyone in the South will agree that pork means barbecue! But travel a few miles and the barbecue changes. The sweet tomato style of sauce popular in the Smoky Mountain regions gets diluted with vinegar for this North Carolina style barbecue. True barbecue gurus would disagree with me about the cooking method, but to me easy means use the oven and timer. No fire to tend, but that rich flavor is still there!

Pulled pork in BBQ sauce sandwich with slaw

Pulled pork in BBQ sauce sandwich with slaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 to 5 pound Boston Butt pork roast
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ cups water
1 cup vinegar
½ cup catsup
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place roast in a roasting pan.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients, stir well, and pour over roast.
  4. Cover and bake until meat is very tender – approximately 5 to 6 hours.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Remove roast from sauce and chop meat or “pull” apart with 2 forks, removing excess fat as you go.
  7. Skim excess fat from sauce. Return the meat to the sauce, stir well, and bake at 325 for another 15 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Serve as is – yum- or on buns with coleslaw.
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