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October 06, 2006

Clean Your Pans with Wine

Tricks Tips and

A Simple Pan Sauce Will Do

All of those crispy bits that remain on the bottom of your pans and pots after sautéing or browning are called the fond, from the French, to mean the base. And on that foundation great sauces are made. The first step is to remove the accumulated fat and then deglaze the hot pan with a little liquid: water, broth, tequila, wine. When the liquid boils, scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and they’ll add incredibly concentrated flavors to your soon-to-be sauce. Add a dollop of butter or crème fraîche and you’re in business. Of course, you could get more elaborate by adding minced shallots, or sautéed mushrooms, or capers, or…well that’s another story.

You may be saying to yourself, “Hey, wasn’t I promised a clever tip that would help me solve one of the biggest hindrances to the enjoyment of home-cooked-meals: home-cooked-meal-cleanup and instead I got a discussion of pan sauces?”

Indeed you were, and the clever tip was cleverly interwoven into that discussion of a simple pan sauce. If you decide that, for unknowable reasons, you don’t want a rich and tasty mushroom/shallot sauce with your beautifully pan-seared rib eye steak, a sauce you could make in the short time your steak rests before serving, if you decide you don’t want the sauce, well then, deglaze the pan anyway!”

Please refer to the first paragraph where I advised, and I quote, “When the liquid boils, scrape those bits off the bottom of the pan…” You see, now you have a pan without crispy bits sticking to it. When the pan cools, pour out that could-have-been-a-sauce. A simple soap and water washing will finish the clean-up. No soaking, no scrubbing.

But no sauce.

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