Deglaze
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De-Glazing is the name for pouring a liquid (water, stock, an alcohol like wine or beer, etc) into a pan in which foods have been recently cooked.

Culinary Uses

The pan is heated and scraped to detach the Fond (the caramelized residue of seared foods) and dissolve it into the liquid to maximize flavor. The De-Glazing can either be the basis for a standalone “pan sauce” (made in the same pan that cooked the food), or an enhancement to another sauce. De-Glazing is an important classic technique because it takes advantage of existing, often overlooked flavors, just waiting there in the pan.

Don’t use a nonstick pan if you intend to De-glaze. Because it’s nonstick, the fond won’t stick either. To de-glaze a conventional pan, remove the main product from the pan once it is seared and Hold it covered in aluminum foil or in an oven at very low temperature while making its pan sauce.  

Depending on the volume of drippings left behind by your main dish, you may need to add some oil and/or butter to the pan or drain some excess fat from the pan. Chefs debate, late at night and into their cups, about what constitutes “excess,” but in the Smart Kitchen, we tend to err on the side of more flavor and texture, which means more fat. Fat is the dirty little secret of cooking: it tastes great. Besides the marginal caloric benefits of removing excess fat, the real worthy counter-argument against excess fat is preventing your sauce from becoming too greasy. With some practice, you will form your own opinion and learn what proportions work for you.

Once you settle on the amount of fat you want to begin with, you then have to decide (or you should have already decided in your mis en place process) if you want to sauté any aromatics, like shallots or herbs, in the fat in the pan before de-glazing it. If you are utilizing aromatics, keep the pan on the heat and sauté the Aromatics.  

Now you're ready to de glaze, which can be done with any liquid from water to a combination of alcohol and/or stock which is the norm.

Common alcohols include wine (usually white wine for white meat & red wine for red meat), brandy or cognac, Marsala wine, sherry, or port, and even vodka.  Choose the alcohol to suit the dish (Marsala for Chicken Marsala or Vodka for Penne with Vodka Sauce) and the flavor desired. A sweeter alcohol makes a sweeter sauce, and a more complex one like cognac or bourbon makes a more complex one.   

Watch yourself when adding the alcohol since it is flammable (especially hard liquor) and can ignite, even if you remove the pan from the heat to add the liquor. If you want to flambé, which is beyond the scope of this page, touch flame to the pan contents by tipping the pan or using a match or lighter. If you are flambéing, wait for the flames to subside before de-glazing. 

Once the alcohol is in the pan, bring the contents to a boil while scraping the fond from the pan with a firm, straight-edged utensil. Now you are cooking and creating something special as all the flavor dissolves into the liquid. Typically, the liquid alcohol will reduce (evaporate) down to about half its original volume or more, leaving a syrupy glaze which will be the core for your pan sauce’s flavor.

If you are combining alcohol and stock, wait until the alcohol has reduced down before adding the stock and then continuing to reduce the combined alcohol & stock liquid so that they are reduced by about half, meaning when only half of the new combined total of alcohol and stock remains, you are done. If you were planning to de glaze with stock alone, follow a procedure similar to that above but without the second step then add and reduce by about half. Either way, with the stock in the pan, season with salt, pepper, herbs, zest, etc., tasting as you go.  If you were just deglazing with wine or water, wait until the sauce reduces before adding seasonings and tasting.

Finally, when you have achieved the desired viscosity, you can finish your sauce with cream or butter. Optimally, you will have decided this in advance during Mis en Place. Simmer the added cream for a few minutes to focus it. If adding butter, spoon in 1-2 cold tablespoons and allow it to melt, stir once butter is melted, and then remove the pan from the heat.