Is “pan juices” and “deglazing” part of your kitchen vocabulary and repertoire? If not, your cooking is missing an easily-achieved depth of flavor and richness.
It sounds fancy, but deglazing and creating pan juices is a simple step whenever cooking on the stove, and — mark this — it actually makes cleaning the pan easier to boot.
Deglazing means adding a liquid to the pan after meat or vegetables have been browned to dissolve all the crusty bits of caramelized food that is stuck to the bottom of the pan, creating a glaze. That word caramelized is key. It means the natural sugars from the food are mostly all that is left. This caramelized glaze is full of rich flavors, so it is excellent for flavoring sauces and soups.
Deglazing can be done to add depth of flavor to a stir-fry, to start and develop a sauce for the food you’ve been sauteing, or to start off a soup. Generally, all you do is pour the liquid (wine, beer, broth, juice, vinegar, or water) onto the hot pan and, over high heat, whisk up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
Brown bits = caramelized = yummy
Did you say easier to clean?
Those browned bits are a pain to scrub off of the pan. But they dissolve quickly when the pan is hot but the liquid is cool. So, not only does deglazing add great flavor to your food, but it gets off what you might have considered pesky “burned” bits before. Even if you don’t need or want a deglazed pan, you can dump a cup of cold water into your hot pan after removing the food and whisk up the bits stuck on the pan to make dishwashing easier.
- Make sure the pan is hot, the heat is high, and the liquid is cool prior to deglazing.
- Remove any excessive fat from the pan before deglazing. Oil and water aren’t friends.
- As soon as all the browned, caramelized bits are off the pan, turn the heat down.
- Don’t deglaze with dairy products. Use clear liquids.