Master Pan Sauce & Pour It Over Rich, Tender Pork with Apples

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Many home cooks dread the browned-on bits stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking a piece of meat. Thoughts usually rush to the arduous task of post-dinner scrubbing. But that gorgeous “fond” (read: stubborn crust) is nothing to fear. With minimum fuss and a little bit of broth and wine, you’ll be quite fond of fond, because it becomes a lovely sauce to pour over your meat. It’s a win-win situation because the sauce-making process “deglazes” the pan (quite literally, liquifying the glaze), so you can skip the scrubbing.

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There are two types of pan sauces: reductions (acidic and deeply flavorful sauces for rich cuts of meat like steak) and gravies, which are typically velvety from the addition of flour. They blanket foods like chicken, pork, or Thanksgiving dinner.

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Pan sauces typically include chicken broth (commercial beef broth is really subpar) and wine (red for beef, and white for chicken and pork), and can be further embellished with a few optional ingredients:

  • aromatics (onions or shallots)
  • woodsy herbs (thyme or rosemary)
  • fruit juice (apple cider or orange juice)
  • slices of fruit (cherries, grapes, or apples)
  • a swirl of unsalted butter (for wine reduction sauces, to tame its acidic edge)
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Try this showstopper pork tenderloin with bacon-apple cider pan gravy, which includes all the bells and whistles a pan sauce could ever want. To make the gravy, you use reserved pork fat, onions, apples, and a generous sprinkling of salt, followed with flour, cider, chicken broth, vinegar, and thyme. Oh, and browned-on bits (fond!) off the bottom of the pan, of course.

Got a pan sauce question? Let us know in the comments!

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