Stop! Don't scrub that pan——deglaze it. The stuck-on stuff that remains after sautéing is actually caramelized bits of food. When liquid is added to the skillet, it sizzles up, lifting the browned bits off the bottom. A few minutes of simmering the deglazed liquid lend it a silky texture and concentrated flavors for rich gravies, stew juices, pan sauces, and even salad dressings.
3 Easy Steps
1. Measure liquids in advance Browned bits in the pan enhance flavor; blackened bits add bitterness—so make sure your liquid is ready to go. For a quick pan sauce, you'll need a few tablespoons of liquid and a few seconds of deglazing. For a saucier dish, count on a few cups of liquid and a few extra minutes of simmering.
2. Start browning Make sure your veggies are well browned before you pour in the deglazing liquid. That way, veggies will contribute maximum browning flavor to the dish. Before pouring in liquids, be sure the pan is hot, and be ready to stir with a sturdy spatula or spoon already in hand.
3. Sizzle and scrape Pour in the liquid—as it sizzles and bubbles up, scrape the spatula across the bottom of the pan to free as much of the stuck-on stuff as you can. With small amounts of liquid, work fast. Take the pan off the heat to scrape if it looks like liquids are evaporating too quickly.