How to Make a Perfect Pan Sauce

Make dinner do double duty. Here’s how to doctor up leftover juices to create amazing, aromatic sauces your whole family will love.

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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.

Add aromatics


Step 2: Pour in a bit more oil (just enough to create a thin sheen) if there is no fat left in the pan, followed by chopped onions or shallots, per the recipe; sauté just until tender. If you want garlic, add it in the last 30 seconds of sauté ing (so that it doesn’t burn).


Deglaze the pan


Step 3: 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


Step 4: 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.




Step 5: 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


Ingredients: Boneless chicken breast halves, kosher salt, black pepper, olive oil, shallot, dry white wine, fresh thyme, unsalted butter

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Calories: 224

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


Ingredients: 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

Calories: 230

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


Ingredients: Pork tenderloin, kosher salt, black pepper, canola oil, shallot, fresh sage, sherry vinegar, apple cider, Dijon mustard, unsalted butter

Calories: 228

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.







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