How to Make a Perfect Pan Sauce
Sauce it up!
Make use of the juices left after pan-frying or sautéing chicken, seafood or meat to elevate your weekday meals to gourmet status.
Pan Sauce How-To
Step 1: Sear lean protein. Heat a skillet until very hot, then add a few teaspoons of cooking oil. Drop in boneless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, lean steak, fish fillets, shrimp, scallops or tofu. Sear to develop a golden crust; turn and cook on other side until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
Garlic may be pungent, but it's full of antioxidants that boost immunity and fight inflammation. This Cooking Light video shows you how to mince garlic quickly and neatly with a chef's knife, so that you can add it to a variety of dishes.
Deglaze the pan
Carefully pour wine and/or broth into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. The culinary term for these bits is the fond, which means foundation, and they will give your sauce tons of flavor.
Reduce the liquid
Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced by about half and has thickened. Stir in any last-minute additions, such as lemon juice or capers. Remove the skillet from heat and swirl in a few cubes of cold butter.
Once the butter has been stirred in and your sauce is silky and rich, drizzle it over the protein. Alternatively, place the protein back in the skillet and turn to coat it in the sauce (as pictured above). Sprinkle in any chopped fresh herbs, if desired, and serve.
Chicken With Wine-Herb Sauce
Boneless chicken breast halves, kosher salt, black pepper, olive oil, shallot, dry white wine, fresh thyme, unsalted butter
Try this recipe: Chicken with Wine-Herb Sauce
Prep first: If you begin mincing shallots and garlic when it's time to toss them in the skillet, you run the risk of overheating the oil—and scorching the food.
Shrimp With Garlic and Smoked Paprika
Extra-virgin olive oil, large shrimp, kosher salt, crushed red pepper, large cloves garlic, dry sherry, fresh lemon juice, unsalted butter, smoked sweet paprika, flat-leaf parsley, lemon wedges
Try this recipe: Shrimp with Garlic and Smoked Paprika
Space it out: Cook the protein in 2 batches if you don't have a large skillet. If you crowd the pan, the food will steam, not sear.
Pork Medallions With Cider-Sage Sauce
Pork tenderloin, kosher salt, black pepper, canola oil, shallot, fresh sage, sherry vinegar, apple cider, Dijon mustard, unsalted butter
Try this recipe: Pork Medallions with Cider-Sage Sauce
Use a stainless steel pan for chicken, beef and pork to get superhigh heat, which makes for better browning; go for a nonstick skillet for fish and tofu.
Halibut With Lemon-Caper Sauce
Canola oil, skinless halibut or cod fillets, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic cloves, dry white wine, low-sodium chicken broth, fresh lemon juice, capers, unsalted butter, flat-leaf parsley
Try this recipe: Halibut with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Dry off: Pat your fish (or other protein) with a paper towel before cooking; moisture inhibits browning.
Steak With Scallion-Ginger Sauce
Boneless strip steaks, kosher salt, black pepper, canola oil, scallions, fresh ginger, garlic clove, dry sherry, low-sodium chicken broth, oyster sauce, unsalted butter, sesame seeds
Try this recipe: Steak with Scallion-Ginger Sauce
Don't touch! Resist the urge to move the meat (or fish) around before it's seared or it won't get that nice, brown crust—the ideal texture.