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Deglazed and Confused

Chances are that you think “deglazing” is a special technique reserved for intense cooking shows and professional chefs only. And chances are also that you’ve performed this technique a hundred times in your kitchen without even knowing it.

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You know how some tiny brown bits of stick to the bottom of your pan when you’re searing chicken or sautéing potatoes? That’s what the French call “fond”- literally, “the bottom”- and it’s delicious. It’s the stuff of dreams… that is, the best gravies, glazes, and pan sauces.

The process involves adding a cold liquid to a hot pan and using a spatula to swiftly scrape the fond from the pan. Remember that the bits of fond are dark brown, not burnt- we’re fond of fond, not acrid char. With the exception of dairy, which has a tendency to curdle at high temperatures, any cold liquid does the trick, including broth, stock, beer, wine, juice, soy sauce, and vinegar. Water could work too, but has no flavor, and why waste a perfectly good opportunity to add a little tang and gusto to your dish? Deglazing with alcoholic liquids like wine or beer impart more intense flavors in the pan due to alcohol’s molecular ability to bond with both water and fat compounds in the food- this is why it’s important to always choose an alcohol that you would just as happily drink as you would cook with. Unless your into the casual, burned-off-eyebrows look, always take the pan off of heat when adding alcoholic liquids.

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Hone your deglazing talents next week with Barley Risotto with Beans & Greens - a hearty bowl of creamy barley cooked in a vegetable broth seasoned with sage and bay leaf and mixed with a wholesome blend of red beans, carrots, and greens.

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