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-   -   Easy pan sauces (http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f32/easy-pan-sauces-8884.html)

marmalady 03-14-2005 03:19 PM

Easy pan sauces
'Pan' sauces are wonderful, and are something everyone who cooks a steak, chicken breast or piece of fish should have in their 'batterie de cuisine'.

There are many ways to make them - the basics are -

When your food is cooked, remove it from the pan to let it rest; turn the heat on to medium, and add a little water/stock/wine to all those wonderful brown bits in the pan. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up all the 'bits', which the French call 'fond' (pronounced fon - sort of). Bring this to a boil, and let it cook out for just a minute or so. Then add however much more stock/water/wine/cream you need to complete your sauce. Bring to a boil, turn down, and let it simmer for just a minute or so; season to taste( here's where you add your fresh herbs, etc.) at the last minute,a swirl of butter to finish the sauce. Perfect! And done in the time you'd let that steak sit to 'rest' anyway!

This is a good sample of a delicious pan sauce:


Makes about 1/2 cup, enough to sauce 4 steaks

2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 small bay leaf
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Salt and ground black pepper

To same skillet used to cook steaks (do not clean skillet or discard accumulated fat), add shallots and sugar off heat; using panís residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are slightly softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds. Return skillet to high heat, add wine, broth, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook at medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.

You can make an easy cream sauce for chicken or fish, by adding a little white wine to the pan, cooking it out, then adding some cream; bring to a boil, cook it t il it gets thick and creamy (you should be using a wide, flat pan anyway, to have cooked your chicken or fish); add seasonings like grainy mustard, basil, capers, lemon zest, etc.

Alix 03-14-2005 05:20 PM

Where is that drooling smiley???

norgeskog 03-14-2005 05:56 PM

I love pan sauces, and usually do them similar to yours marm, only I always use white vermouth. Sometimes I add carmelized mushrooms too.

marmalady 03-14-2005 06:36 PM

Alix, someone had a drooling smiley - can't find it!

Nors, I've used shrooms, too; they're great. I think the great thing about sauces 'a la minute' like these is that once you have the basic palate, you can go anywhere you want with them. I use vermouth, too, and sherry - depending on what I'm making. Bourbon, even, for an awesome reduction for a steak sauce!

GB 03-14-2005 06:47 PM

I love pan sauces. I love using capers in mine when cooking chicken. This is a great reason to cook with something other than non stick pans.

waaza 03-14-2005 08:06 PM

then what is the difference between a sauce and a gravy? The obvious answer is that gravies are made from meat juices, and sauces needn't have any relationship to the food they are being put on. Personally, I don't like this kind of sauce.
If you leave the meat/fish in the pan and add the other ingredients, you can still get a good product, and its probably going to be better. Its the way a good number of real Indian dishes are made with meat/fish and even some veg.
Waaza :p

Haggis 03-14-2005 09:47 PM

A grazy is generally made with the pan juices (of course) that has been thickened by a roux (mixture of flour and fat, that has been cooked, the fat generally coming from the pan juices in the case of a gravy).

Gravy is just another type of the thousands of different sauces.

thier1754 03-14-2005 10:01 PM

Sometimes I just take the meat out of the pan, add some wine -- whatever we're drinking with the dinner -- and reduce it. If I've seasoned the meat, I may not even season the sauce. Maybe a grind of pepper. I just pour it over the meat on the platter. Sometimes I sneak some onto my baked potato, too! If you sauteed mushrooms with your meat, that's great in the sauce. Of course, you can always cook a slurry of flour and water or other thickener in with any fat that's in the pan right at the beginning and use a whisk to incorporate as you reduce the liquid. Gotta be fast so it doesn't lump. If you get lumps, pour your sauce through a strainer onto the meat or into a sauce boat.

marmalady 03-15-2005 03:11 PM

Waaza, I think of a sauce as something that just 'dresses' the meat/fish; it may be a complementary flavor, or something to really spark up an otherwise bland piece of meat - like a chicken breast.

A gravy, on the other hand, evokes memories of grandma's mashed taters, roast chicken, and is ladeled liberally over the meat!

Cooking the food in their sauce, as is done with a lot of Indian dishes, is one way to cook; it's more of a braise. Pan sauces, however, are usually used when something is pan-fried, or sauteed, or grilled.

norgeskog 03-15-2005 03:54 PM


Originally Posted by GB
I love pan sauces. I love using capers in mine when cooking chicken. This is a great reason to cook with something other than non stick pans.

I also love capers with fish and in tapenade.

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