Deglazing: An Exciting and Useful Culinary Trick

Deglazing a pan
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Deglazing a pan involves adding liquid, such as stock or wine, to a pan to loosen and dissolve food particles that are stuck to the bottom after cooking or searing. The flavorful mixture produced by deglazing can be used to make a sauce. The cooked food particles often look like browned bits that are stuck to the pan. These cooked bits are known as fond and are the source of immense flavor. 

Why Should You Deglaze?

The results of deglazing are instantaneous.

The process allows you to loosen the flavorful fond from the bottom of the pan and then use those bits to add flavor to your sauce. This simple technique is one professional chefs use frequently and can easily be incorporated into your home cooking routine. You do not need any complicated tools to deglaze, just a pan, some liquid, and a flat wooden spoon. 

How to Deglaze a Pan

Deglazing works best if you have just roasted a piece of meat in a pan in the oven, or maybe sautéed it in a skillet. Now that you are familiar with the definition of deglazing, here are the steps to do it:

  • Remove any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan prior to deglazing. You want deep brown particles but don't want burnt, blackened bits.
  • Pour out most of the fat that may be left in the pan.
  • Raise the heat under the pan to medium-high.
  • Pour about a cup of cold liquid to the hot pan. As the liquid comes up to boil, some of the brown bits will start to incorporate with the liquid.
  • Use a wooden spoon to scrape along the entire bottom of the pan to loosen the fond. 
  • Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until it is reduced by about half. 

What Liquids to Use 

You can achieve deglazing with mere water, however, it is not recommended because water doesn't have any flavor. The best results are when you use wine, stock, juice, vinegar, or even beer.

Cooking liquid from other ingredients, such as the water you simmered beans in, can also provide tasty flavor. Do not use any dairy products to deglaze a pan, as they will likely curdle from the heat. 

Creating a Pan Sauce

Once you have loosened the fond, and reduced liquid in the pan by half, use it as the basis for making a sauce or simply season it with salt and pepper and serve it as a simple pan sauce.

For example, a pork chop might be pan-fried along with aromatic vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. The pork chop is removed from the pan, leaving the vegetables and the fond at the bottom of the pan as a result of cooking. Pour one cup of liquid into the pan and begin to deglaze the pan. All of the cooked meat and vegetable bits will loosen and incorporate into the sauce for a tasty topping to your meal.