Test Kitchen tips: Deglazing
When meats or vegetables are sautéed, seared or roasted, they leave behind browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. These browned bits can contain an amazing amount of flavoring, and are often used to enhance the flavoring of the dish being cooked (say, a ragu, soup or stew) or are later turned into a gravy, glaze or sauce to serve with the finished dish.
Removing that flavoring from the base of a pan and incorporating it into a sauce is called "deglazing." To deglaze a pan, first remove the cooked meat or vegetables from the pan, along with any extra fat. Add a little liquid to the pan to loosen the browned bits; acids, like wine, are often used, as are broth or water, even fruit juice. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to dislodge the loosened flavorings, then use this flavoring base as desired in the finished dish.
Make sure that the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan are browned and not actually burnt (black and crusty, they will smell bitter and "burnt"), and be aware that it's harder to get a good deglaze from a nonstick pan (the flavorings won't really have anything to stick to).
For more information on pan sauces and deglazing, check out this story.
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-- Noelle Carter
Photo credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times