Demystifying the Deglaze

Demystifying the DeglazeWhen you’re working with high heat in a pan, particularly when it comes to pan-searing or roasting proteins, you’ll create an invaluable by-product in the process.

Those crispy, caramelized brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan are called sucs in French, and they’re not something you want in your trashcan. Those little morsels of browned goodness are the key to creating great gravies, sauces, and even soup bases.

The trick to getting them loosened up and dissolved into your stock or sauce is a technique called deglazing, which simply entails pouring cold liquid into the hot pan and mixing everything together.

Deglazing is a step within a ton of different types of recipes. Seared chicken with pan sauce, gravies, French onion soup, roast pork—they all use a little deglaze action.

Here’s how it’s done:

Heat the pan. If you’re working over a burner, just keep the flame going after you’ve removed your meats and/or veggies from the pan. If you’re roasting, situate your roasting pan over two stovetop burners to reheat it. You want to work with a high heat.

Pour in your liquid(s) of choice. You can conceivably use any liquid you like, but keep in mind how the flavor(s) will interact with your final product. Can you use water? Sure, but lots of other liquids provide more complexity. Red and white wine are great for deglazing. You can also use stock, vinegar, beer, or even liquor.

As your liquid boils, use a whisk, fork, or spoon to scrape up the sucs, making sure to get everything off the bottom of the pan and stirred around. Continue to cook and scrape over a rolling simmer, as the bits of browned foods will slowly loosen up and become incorporated into the cooking, reducing liquid.

It’s really that simple! Once you’ve done the basic deglaze, you can turn down your heat and add herbs and aromatics, a bit of butter or oil, and/or a thickener like flour to transform it into something sinfully good.

Here are a few final tips to keep in mind, courtesy of the Reluctant Gourmet:

  • Remove any burnt bits before you begin—sucs are caramely and brown, not black. The burnt stuff will affect your flavor.
  • Pour or spoon off most excess fat.
  • When deglazing with alcohol, remove the pan from the heat before you pour it in.