The main factors for making a perfect steak happen long before you think about sauce. You want a flavorful cut of meat, a hot pan, and a good pinch of salt. Often, a squeeze of lemon is all the sauce a steak needs. But other times, a simple pan sauce can take your steak up a notch, to the gourmet regions of restaurant-style cooking.
A pan sauce consists of a handful of ingredients, simmered down, then poured atop your (rested) meat. More important than any one particular ingredient in your pan sauce is the pan in which you make that sauce, also known as the same pan in which you seared the steak. By reusing the pan, you not only save on dishes, but you also allow your sauce to pick up the tasty browned bits left in the pan after cooking meat. They’re known as sucs, and they add previously unknown levels of flavor to your sauce.
In many of our recipes, we’ll actually finish the side dish we’re making–like the purple potatoes above–as we throw together the sauce. Here’s how we make the simplest, most delicious pan sauces around:
- After you’ve finished cooking your steak (or chicken), remove the meat to a plate, and set aside. You can tent the meat with a small piece of foil, or just leave it uncovered. The meat will get juicier as it rests.
- If there’s plenty of fat leftover from cooking the meat, you’re good. If there’s not much, add a drizzle of olive oil. If there’s a ton, drain some off so you’ve got just enough left to film the surface.
- Add aromatics. Typically, we use shallots, but other good options are: minced red or yellow onion, garlic, leeks, scallions, or spring specialties like green garlic or ramps. Sauté, then pour in a bit of vinegar or citrus juice.
- Let the liquid bubble down, stirring to deglaze the pan (picking up all the sucs).
- Season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs or chives.
- Pour over your meat or chicken, and enjoy your meal!