I feel kind of silly posting about something as simple as a pan sauce. I mean, you all know that I am learning way more from you than you are from me!! But I’ve had this meal on my hard drive since October, so I thought it would be time that it made it’s debut.
There is nothing easier than a simple pan sauce in my opinion. And when you don’t have the energy to make something elaborate, a one-pan meal can help you to keep your sanity. And the beautiful thing about it is that you don’t even really need a recipe, which is something that is hard for me to comprehend, because I am such a recipe girl! And a nice pan sauce will turn a boring piece of chicken into something a little bit special.
I actually saw this in a Rachael Ray magazine, and there were step by step photos showing the whole process. I mainly followed what was in the recipe in the magazine, but it is important to remember that this is so easy to customize and make from items in your refrigerator.
I didn’t make a step by step with photographs for you. I wish I would have. But I haven’t got that talent like some other bloggers out there. In fact, I happy if I can usually get one good picture of the final dish!! I looked online, and there is a video on the Rachael Ray Magazine website that shows you how to make a simple pan sauce. It can be found here.
So since I don’t have the pictures, I’ll just give you my interpretation of what goes into a pan sauce.
1st – your protein. I used chicken, but feel free to use beef, pork, or anything else you like. You start out by cooking it in the pan. Easy enough, right? When I am doing this with chicken, I like to either cut the breasts in half or pound them to make them thinner. That way they cook faster, and don’t dry out. Once your protein is cooked, take it out of the pan and either put it somewhere to keep it warm or cover it with foil to keep it warm.
DO NOT GET RID OF ANY OF THE STUCK ON BITS OR JUICES IN THE PAN. THIS IS WHAT GIVES THE SAUCE A LOT OF FLAVOR.
2nd – I like to add in some chopped onion. On the video, she uses a shallot, but I always have onions at home, and they work just as well. Cook in the pan just until translucent.
3rd -the liquid. I’ll start it off with a splash of wine. Don’t worry if you are serving this to non-drinking folks or children – the alcohol will cook off and evaporate. If you do an online search, you will get all kinds of opinions about how long something needs to cook and how much of the alcohol is actually evaporated. This is the good and the bad thing about the internet. You never really know what is true, and what to believe!! I like to go with the thought that alcohol evaporates at 172F, so I think we’re pretty safe here. And I’ve never felt the slightest bit “funny” after eating something that was cooked with wine.
BE REALLY CAUTIOUS WHEN ADDING ALCOHOL OVER AN OPEN FLAME. If you want to be really safe, take the pan away from the heat while adding the alcohol.
Once the wine has cooked for a few minutes and reduced, I add in some broth. I used chicken, since I was making chicken. If you don’t want to add the wine or if you don’t have any, just skip right to the broth – it will still turn out great!
VERY IMPORTANT TIP – when adding the liquid(s), make sure you scrape up all of those browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Like I said before, this is what gives it it’s rich flavor.
Once you have added the broth, continue to cook until it is reduced by about half.
4th – butter. What good would a dish be without butter? Once the liquid has been reduced, remove the pan from the heat and add in a tablespoon or two of butter and stir it in.
5th – any additional flavorings. This is where you can go crazy with what you have on hand. Season to your liking. I honestly can’t remember what I put into this sauce, but I know there was salt and pepper and whole-grain mustard. You can add cheese, capers, maybe a bit of lemon juice. Make it creamy by adding sour cream, flavor it up with dried or fresh herbs, spice it up with a little hot sauce – it’s all up to you!!
Pour the sauce over your protein, and you are ready for dinner! If you haven’t tried a pan sauce (which I’m sure all of you have, since I’m the novice here!) you should give it a go. Especially on busy nights. This can seriously be on the table in 15 minutes. And it’s much better for you than take out!