The Best Time To Add Extra Flavor When Making A Pan Sauce

Pan sauces are a culinary staple, especially in classic French cooking, and a great skill for any home cook to have. And one of the keys to getting a good pan sauce is knowing when to add the extra flavor you're hoping to use to elevate your sauce and your dish.

Before adding extra seasoning to your sauce, you have to deglaze your pan to get the sauce going. If you're using a recipe, pay attention to the amount of liquid needed, but it's usually somewhere between a few tablespoons to a half cup or so. Pouring this liquid into your hot pan will help release the fond from the bottom and it will mix into the sauce. You'll want the liquid in your sauce to reduce for a couple of minutes, then it's the perfect time to add your extra seasoning. This added seasoning will elevate the already savory flavor created by the deglazing and the bits of fond, and what you choose to add will depend on what dish you're planning to slather in this tasty sauce. Get creative with anything from lemon juice and other acidic ingredients like vinegar or mustard to additional aromatics like herbs or garlic for an extra punch of flavor.

Deglazing and adding flavor to pan sauces

Another benefit of deglazing is that it breaks up the fond, which can be used as a base for the pan sauce. Fond is a common culinary term for those crispy bits left at the bottom of your pan. It adds loads of flavor to a pan sauce if you know how to get to it. That's why deglazing the pan with a liquid is such a crucial step in making pan sauces. Adding liquid to the hot pan helps release the fond from the bottom of the pan and allows it to get mixed into your sauce. 

Stainless and cast iron pans are best for recipes that call for deglazing for a pan sauce. This is in part because you get a better sear, which is what creates the fond. You can use a variety of cooking liquids to do this, depending on what you're making; chicken or beef stock and red, white, or fortified wines are all great liquids to use, but don't feel confined to these options. Pairing the deglazed deliciousness with any other added seasonings will make for a sauce that bursts with flavor and lingers on the palette. With proper technique and a little creativity, you'll be well on your way to creating pan sauces worth drooling over.