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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.


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!

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18 Responses to Cooking 101

  1. Kate / Kajal says:

    i so agree with you … a good sauce can bring to life any ole boring piece of meat / vegetable !
    Love your step by step guide … don’t need the pics girl 🙂

  2. Emiline says:

    You are Chef Deborah!
    Nice instructions for a pan sauce.

    Things look different here…
    I can’t tell you what a difficult time I had making mine 3 column.

  3. kellypea says:

    You’re so funny! I have photos on my hard drive of things I can’t even remember eating, so there’s NO WAY I’d be able to write about them like you have here. And this is a great idea. I get so caught up in the entire recipe that I never take the time to mention basic things that are the foundation of lots of great cooking. Like sauces. YUM.

  4. Bellini Valli says:

    We don’t want any singed eyebrows out there. My meat always needs some kind of boost from a sauce .

  5. The Baker & The Curry Maker says:

    Mouths watering! Your instructions make a lot of sense, thanks, I’ll try soon.

  6. The Baker & The Curry Maker says:

    Mouths watering! Your instructions make a lot of sense, thanks, I’ll try soon.

  7. javagirlkt's cookin' says:

    Sounds so good! I make meals like this all the time during the week. I like to follow the same steps you do, but add garlic to the onions like 30 seconds before the wine, wilting in some spinach at the last second, and then tossing it all with whole wheat pasta! You’re right, so much healthier than takeout!

  8. Sharona May says:

    Thanks for the great reminder. A pan sauce can be great on chicken or pork for that matter.

    sharona may

  9. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Yes, thanks for the reminder that a dish doesn’t need to take all day to be delicious!

  10. Gigi says:

    Thank you for the step by step instructions and tips, I need to master this part of cooking.

  11. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Deb, you are so wrong, my dear – we learn a lot from you, too!

    And I love your step by step instructions, very clear and easy to follow.

  12. Happy cook says:

    I thibk a pab sauce is always delicious and easy.
    You get all the flavours from the meat or the veggie when you make the sauce

  13. glamah16 says:

    A good sauce can make the meal. I guess thats why the french have such a way with food.Thanks for eminding us to take that little extra step for a memorable meal.

  14. Shandy says:

    Your pan sauce sounds wonderful! and I absolutely love your step-by-step instructions. I agree, sauces add so much to any dish. Who doesn’t love a flavorful sauce to swirl the food in before eating? Yum! =D

  15. Jenny says:

    YUMMY! I love chicken and pan sauce. Great recipe and step by step!

  16. Catherine Wilkinson says:

    very helpful and well-written instructions! Sauce is everything in my book. Even sweet sauces for dessert! And those cupcakes! Whoa! I don’t know if that icing would make it out of the bowl…I’d eat it all!

  17. Gabi says:

    Looks great Deborah!
    I love to do this with Pork chops and white wine and sourcream. Ummm.
    I like the mustard with the chicken though- looks yummy.

  18. Kevin says:

    Pan sauce is so simple and yet so good,. I make it all the time.

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