Sunday, January 22, 2012

Deglazing a Pan and Making a Sauce (Video)

Remember all those brown bits we had left in the skillet in the end of the meat searing video?  Why don't we turn them into a sauce.

Here are some questions I frequently get in class about pan sauces.

Can you recommend a cheap (but good) stainless steel skillet?
Yes, Tramontina.

Is there some way to buy stock that is usable for a pan sauce?
I can finally say YES!  This week, I tried veal demi-glace made by Bonewerks Culinarte'.  It was great -- good flavor, good body, and a list of ingredients that included veal bones and vegetables instead of yeasts and enzymes.  It was a tad heavy on the tomato paste, but not nearly as bad as most store bought demi-glace products.  I bought it at John Dewar's in Wellesley, MA.  It was a very reasonable price of $8 for a 1 cup container.  Keep in mind that demi-glace is a very reduced stock.  To turn it back into stock, add 3-4 parts water.  So it's really like buying 4 cups of stock.  If you don't want to use the whole container at once, set it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to loosen it from the box.  Invert onto a cutting board and cut into pieces.  I cut my container into 4 pieces.  1 piece plus 2/3 cups water worked well to deglaze a 10 inch skillet.  You can freeze the rest for future use.  

In the video, I say that you have to make your own stock.  There are a few reasons for that.  I made the video before I had a chance to try Bonewerks' demi-glace and their products don't seem to be widely available to home cooks.  You can order from their website, but a minimum order is $80.  If you can get to John Dewar's easily, call them first to check if they have the Bonewerks' product.

How do you make brown chicken stock?
I cheat and make it out of store bought rotisserie chicken to save time and dishes.  Whole Foods often sells salt free roasted chickens, which are great for the stock.  Here is the recipe.

What wine can I use?
Your wine doesn’t need to be anything special or expensive.  When you start boiling it, all the interesting aromas will evaporate anyway.  For whites, I use sauvignon blank from Trader Joe’s.  You can use whatever you want as long as it’s not too oaky.  For reds, I like Pinot Noir or syrah blends like Cote-du-Rhone.  You can use whatever you want as long as you avoid tannic wines like Cabernet since they give sauces a metallic aftertaste.  

Do I need to open a new bottle of wine?
No.  You can use leftovers.  Keep them in the fridge, and they'll serve you well for about 1 month (maybe even longer, but I haven't tired).  This is not my advice for drinking, just cooking.

What happens if my sauce congeals before I serve it?
This happened to me 3 times while I was trying to shoot this little video!  Just couldn't get the lighting right for the finished steak.  Don't panic.  Add 1/4 cup water to the skillet with solidified sauce.  Set it over moderate heat and beat the heck out of it with a whisk.  

What can I use instead of wine?
You can use apple cider or add a few drops of vinegar in the end.  Balsamic and apple cider vinegar are particularly good in pan sauces.  Another option is to add a squirt of lemon or lime (works great for deglazing a pan after roast chicken).

Can I enrich with cream instead of butter?
Cream is great, particularly for sauces that use white wine or apple cider.  Stir in the cream after your liquids are reduced.  Keep the pan over medium-low heat and whisk until the sauce returns to a simmer.  

20 down / 30 more to go


Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd pass along a tip for storing wine. I got some a few silicone ice cube trays and when I open a bottle of wine for use in deglazing I put the rest in the trays and freeze. Frozen wine keeps well enough to use for cooking and is convenient. I keep the trays in a ziploc freezer bag so they don't sublimate in the freezer. The wine isn't exactly frozen, its more like a hard slush that can easily be popped out with a fork or spoon.

Also all recipes that talk about using butter for finishing a sauce never say why the pan is taken off the heat and why you can't just let it melt into the sauce. I've been learning how to make sauces and it finally occured to me that the addition of the butter at the end is simply creating a variant of a beurre blanc with the sauce as the liquid instead of a reduced acid such as wine or vinegar!

Gluten Free Desserts said...

I did everything to avoid smell except simmering vinegar. I will try it, may be your idea can sort out my problem. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks a lot!

Helen said...

what do you mean by "avoid smell"? pan sauces usually smell great when they are reducing.