Raise your dinner game and make the most of your meat, by creating a luxurious sauce from those brown bits in your pan.
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The thought of making sauce - and not that pot of Sunday gravy, simmering on top of the stove - can be intimidating, even for professional chefs. After all, it's widely considered to be one of the greatest tests of their skill, and the saucier is one of the most respected, technique-driven roles in a classical French kitchen.

So it's little wonder that we rarely think to bother with sauces at home; especially if we can barely pull together a rounded meal after a long day of work and school. That said, a pan sauce requires very little in the way of extra effort, and really pulls together whatever dish you're making, in a truly elegant and delicious way.

Here's a step-by-step how-to for making pan sauce, because once you master the basics (and trust us, they really are basic!) you're well on your way to becoming an at-home saucier!

1. Select Your Protein

For starters, you'll want to choose a meat that cooks quickly…tough proteins are generally slow-braised in liquid, not topped with a pan reduction. You can never go wrong with steak of any sort, but skin-on chicken, veal medallions or pork or lamb chops are excellent picks too.

2. Brown Your Meat

It's essential to create a hard sear, because it's all of those yummy, brown, caramelized bits that form the base of your sauce. Which means, ditch the non-stick skillet and go for cast iron or stainless steel, drizzled with a few tablespoons of neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point (i.e., vegetable instead of olive). Cook your meat until beautifully browned on both sides, and done to your liking within. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside to rest.

3. Bring the Flavor

Now that you have your meaty base, it's time to add oomph by way of aromatics, like crushed garlic cloves, peppercorns, and fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or sage. Pour off any excess fat from your pan, turn the heat to medium, throw in your flavor bombs of choice, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until your garlic (or onion, or shallot) is soft, and your herbs and spices are fragrant.

4. Ready, Set, Deglaze

This is when liquid comes in, to release and meld the concentrated bits of goodness that have formed on the bottom of your pan. Add about ¼ cup of broth, wine, madeira, brandy, or whatever you think will best compliment your finished dish. Bring to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid thickens and reduces by half.

5. Season and Serve

Sprinkle in salt, pepper, or whatever else you think is needed to elevate your pan sauce, then finish with a couple of tablespoons of butter, which will make the mixture shiny and creamy, and allow it to evenly coat your perfectly rested meat.

Looking for recipe ideas? The following four dishes demonstrate that once you have the method down, you'll be able to play around with pan sauce to suit your protein, occasion and tastes!

Bourbon Pepper Pan Sauce: Created for steak but equally terrific with pork chops or chicken, this recipe plays with our basic method by using bourbon for liquid, and adding body by way of duck fat and cream.

Dijon Pan Sauce: Turn every day chicken breasts into a restaurant worthy feast, with this zesty but utterly simple combo of Dijon mustard, chicken stock, butter, and rich pan drippings, of course!

Pan Seared Pork Chops and Brown Sugar Glaze: All of that great fond (the cheffy, French name for brown bits) is fortified with apples and bacon, flavored with brown sugar and green onions, and simmered together with stock and lemon juice.

Manhattan Filet with Pan Sauce Bordelaise: Turn your home kitchen into a snazzy steakhouse, with a dish that sounds fancy in theory, but couldn't be easier in execution.

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