The Luxurious Ingredient You Should Be Using To Finish Pan Sauces

There's something about restaurant fare that tastes richer and more flavorful than what you had planned for dinner. It could be the ingredients and cooking techniques used by professionals, or maybe meals just taste better when you are excused from preparing them. Or perhaps the difference in the restaurant version is the flavorful sauce that often accompanies and perfectly compliments the entrée but seems too complicated to make at home.

A rich pan sauce is a game-changing accouterment to many dishes, as its complimentary essence is derived from the foundational flavors of the entrée. Those lovely bits of food and flavorful drippings left over in the pan after sautéeing vegetables or meats are actually flavor bombs begging to be made into a bold sauce. These well-caramelized pieces can be enhanced by adding shallots and herbs that get a quick sauté before the pan is deglazed with a flavorful liquid like savory stock or quality wine. The result is a tasty sauce based on the core flavors of the featured food.

If your sauce doesn't look as decadent as the one served at your favorite eatery, that's because chefs use one essential ingredient to create pan sauce perfection.

Butter adds glossy richness

French cuisine is often credited with creating cooking techniques and gastronomical delights that set a foundation for the global culinary community. Denoted by fancy knife cuts, mother sauces, and layered flavor profiles, French food is also known for its butter content. It's an ingredient used across many cuisines and is the finishing element needed to take your pan sauce to the pro level.

Monter au buerre, meaning "mount with butter," is a classic French technique that finishes a pan sauce by swirling in pats of cold butter before serving. After deglazing, reducing, and taking a pan sauce off the hot stove, a few pieces of very cold butter are swirled into the pan to finish it. Cold butter is essential, and in order to avoid a burnt butter faux pas or broken sauce, the pan should not be returned to the heat.

Finishing a pan sauce with butter adds a rich, creamy flavor with a hint of sweetness that elevates the surrounding ingredients. As butter is a natural emulsifier, it further develops the velvety texture and luxurious mouth feel of a pan sauce while enhancing the sheen for an appealing presentation. Butter is the simple ingredient to make a rich, restaurant-worthy pan sauce at home.