Those browned bits from the pan can be used to make a sauce like no other after you’re done searing, pan-roasting, or just frying meat.
“Deglazing” is one of those cooking techniques that sound like you need to be a chef with a cooking degree to master—but don’t let the name intimidate you.
Not only is it easy to learn, but it can help you turn those browned, caramelized bits and pieces of meat left in the pan after you’re done searing a steak or cooking chicken into the most delicious pan sauce that you and your family have ever tasted.
What Does Deglaze the Pan Mean?
When you sear a steak, make pork chops, brown bacon bits, or cook any other meats in your cast iron skillet or stainless steel frying pan, you will notice that brown bits and pieces of food get stuck to the bottom and sides of the cooking surface.
Basically, they get glazed onto the cooking vessel. To deglaze the pan, then, is to do the opposite.
If you don’t know what deglazing is, you will probably wait for the pan to cool down after you’re done cooking, then give it a good scrub down and wash all of that food residue down the drain.
But, because you’ve read this step-by-step guide, you know better.
You know that if you deglaze your pan, you can make gravy. And not just any gravy! We’re talking about a deeply flavorful, highly aromatic gravy to pour on top of the meat right before you serve it on the table.
How to Deglaze the Pan
Deglazing the pan is a culinary technique that can be used to make a delicious sauce from the browned bits of food stuck and burned to the pan after you’ve finished cooking. For best results, use a cast iron skillet or stainless steel frying pan and avoid ceramic or nonstick cookware.
When you’re done cooking, take the pan off the heat and remove the meat with a pair of tongs.
Add enough deglazing liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. Your liquid of choice can be plain water, light or dark beer, red or white wine, or something richer, like sherry. Throw in a pinch or two of salt, some freshly cracked black pepper, a bunch of fresh herbs, like thyme and oregano, and a teaspoon or two of brown sugar or honey.
Put the pan back on the burner and turn up the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a simmer. As soon as it starts to simmer, scrape the bottom of the cooking surface with your spatula to loosen the fond and release the cooked food particles into the cooking liquid.
Let the liquid simmer to evaporate the moisture and thicken the sauce, giving it an energetic stir every now and then. You know your pan sauce is ready when it gets dark and viscous, like hot caramel.
Finally, you let the liquid simmer to evaporate the moisture and thicken the sauce. You know it’s ready when it’s dark and viscous, like hot caramel. Pour it on top of the meat and serve the meat on the table.
Our Best Tips for Deglazing a Pan
Wait for the pan to cool down before you add liquid to it. Otherwise, the liquid will quickly turn to steam, a lot of it for that matter, and your range hood will struggle to ventilate the kitchen.
Simmer alcoholic or acidic liquids over medium-high heat. But if you decide to use dairy, like cream or milk, add a really small amount, so you don’t have to reduce it down too much and use low to medium heat, or your sauce will curdle.
To make your gravy extra decadent, add a tablespoon of unsalted butter. To add heat, add half a teaspoon of chili flakes or hot cayenne pepper.