Serving any kind of meat by itself is delicious. But when you want to impress your guests, a simple slab of meat won’t do. Adding a pan sauce to the dish will help make it less boring. Besides, you don’t want to waste the juicy flavor left by your meat on the pan.
How to Make a Simple and Quick Pan Sauce
If you don’t know what it means, a pan sauce is a sauce made from the leftover juices of the meat you cooked. It doesn’t have to be meat, too. It can be a sauce from the leftover taste of frying food or sautéing vegetables.
Now you might be thinking why in the world would you want to use leftover juice from cooking? Well, a pan sauce is often created in restaurants to give color and taste to the dish. It’s also a good way to bring out the flavor in the fat and spices used in seasoning the meat. To know how to make this, follow these 8 steps.
Step 1: Prep your Pan
Of course, a pan sauce won’t be called as such if it isn’t made on a pan. So, the first thing you have to do is pick the right pan to cook both the meat and the sauce on. Don’t worry, they will be done separately.
Even if non-stick pans sound appealing, it’s best to use a stainless-steel pan instead. Non-stick pans don’t create that crisp flavor from the fat. They also don’t produce brown bits from cooking meat. It’s important that you have these brown bits because they are the foundation of any pan sauce.
When you already have your stainless-steel pan, pour 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into it. You can also use grapeseed oil. Turn up the heat to medium-high and wait for the oil to start smoking.
Step 2: Prep the Meat
While waiting for this, take the time to season your meat. This can be steak, pork chops, chicken, or any kind of quick-cooking meat.
You can be more creative with the seasoning, but it’s always better to keep it simple. Salt and pepper will do.
Step 3: Sear the Meat
When the meat is fully seasoned, put it on the hot pan and wait for a good sear. To know if you’re doing it well, notice how the meat will turn a lot browner. In the case of chicken, the skin will look golden. Once it’s ready, flip it over and wait for the other side to cook. Don’t forget to give the sides a good sear as well.
Step 4: Add the Aromatics
After giving the meat a good sear, leave it on a plate to rest. This is when you actually start making the pan sauce.
Notice your pan. If you’ve given the meat a good sear, there will be brown bits left on the stainless steel. This is different from the burnt bits that almost look black. If you find the bits black, most likely you’ve burned the meat. This will just make a burnt-tasting pan sauce, so don’t think of reusing the leftover juices.
But when you have the perfect brown bits, you can start adding the aromatics. Aromatics refer to the spices that add flavor to the fat. Add 1-2 cloves of garlic, and sliced shallot. Add an herb to make the sauce more tasteful. Common herbs are rosemary and thyme. Heat them all for a few minutes so the flavors come out.
Step 5: Deglaze
Deglazing is a term used when you add liquid to the fond (brown bits) and the aromatics. You can use any kind of liquid here. It can be water, wine, broth, or juice. But most people prefer to add red or white wine because it has the right acidity that complements the meat.
When you add the wine, make sure that you don’t turn the sauce into soup. The amount you’ll need should just be enough to cover the pan with liquid. Half a cup of wine will do. Stir the wine with all the spices.
Step 6: Add More Spices
This is when you get to add more spices and flavor on your pan sauce. You can add more herbs like rosemary or thyme to give it a rustic taste. Dijon mustard is a good addition too since it gives the sauce its thickness. Worcestershire sauce and miso sauce are also great alternatives.
During this step, you should always remember not to overdo the taste. The pan sauce is supposed to bring out the flavor of the meat and not overshadow it. Besides, you will only need 3 tablespoons of this sauce poured over the meat.
Step 7: Add More Fat
Remove the undissolved herbs and aromatics. After the liquid has reduced, it’s time to add more fat. The best way to do this is to add 1-2 slices of butter on the sauce. The butter gives the pan sauce a creamy texture. It also gives it a restaurant-level consistency and taste.
If you’re worried that it might be too creamy, add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance everything out. Stir the sauce using a wooden spoon. A wooden spoon is a must because it won’t leave marks on your stainless-steel pan.
Step 8: Serve
When you’re satisfied with the taste of your pan sauce, it’s time to serve it. Get your cooked meat and slice it into a few pieces. Arrange them neatly on a clean plate. Get 3 tablespoons (depending on your preference) of your pan sauce and pour it over the meat. Make sure that it doesn’t create a pool of sauce on the plate.
If you have leftover pan sauce, store it in a container or use it as a sauce for sautéed vegetables or garlic bread.
With these 8 steps, you can turn your dry, boring meat to a restaurant-quality dish. The best thing about making a pan sauce is that you don’t need a lot of additional ingredients. Just a few herbs and spices and you can create a sauce that will liven up any quick-cook meat.