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The Trick to Making a Killer Pan Sauce Every Time

The Trick to Making a Killer Pan Sauce Every Time

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Q: What's the trick to making a killer pan sauce?

A: The secret is in the stock.

See, store-bought stock might have good flavor, but it has almost no gelatin—a protein derived from the slow cooking of connective tissues in animal carcasses. Restaurant stock is full of it. As stock reduces in a skillet, the gelatin concentrates, thickening the sauce and letting it emulsify easily with butter, which means that instead of thin and greasy, a pan sauce made with gelatin-rich stock comes out beautifully rich and glossy.

There are two other significant advantages restaurant chefs have over the average home cook. First, their stocks are made with no added sodium, which means that they reduce without becoming overly salty the way purchased stock can. And second, a restaurant burner is likely much more powerful than what most of us are working with at home, which allows a pan sauce to bubble vigorously in the skillet. This bubbling further aids emulsification.

What's the secret to making better pan sauces at home? Simple: Start with either homemade stock or a lower-sodium store-bought stock (if using purchased, I recommend using chicken stock for any purpose, as beef stocks tend to have less meaty flavor), and add your own gelatin. Using 1 to 2 (¼-ounce) packets of unflavored powdered gelatin per cup of stock will provide the extra body a sauce needs.

To try out a simple pan sauce, pan-sear a couple of chicken breasts. When they're done, set them aside and deglaze the pan with 1 cup dry white wine. Once the wine has reduced to just a couple of tablespoons, add 1 cup purchased unsalted chicken stock in which 2 (¼-ounce) packets unflavored powdered gelatin have been dissolved. Reduce the mixture by half, and then stir in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and a squeeze of lemon; swirl in 2 tablespoons butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Kenji López-Alt is the chief creative officer of Serious Eats (, where he writes The Food Lab, unraveling the science of home cooking.

More Helpful Hints from Kenji:

Easy Recipes That Are Fuss-Free, Use Minimal Ingredients And Taste Just Delicious

We&rsquore big believers in easy, fuss-free meals that don&rsquot take hours to make up. You know, the type of recipes that require minimal ingredients, little time and even less prep like One-Pot Sausage Pasta, Classic Stuffed Peppers and Teriyaki Salmon Traybake (plus the rest!). And we&rsquore guessing you&rsquore also big fans of anything that&rsquos easy-to-make. Otherwise, why would you be here? So, if you&rsquore on the hunt for new and improved, easy-peasy ways of cooking, take a look at some of our all-time favourite easy recipes now. We just know you&rsquoll be crawling back for more!

A scoop of pasta water will help stretch your sauce to coat your pasta more smoothly and generously. It's a YES from us on this one, TikTok.

This is a chilli recipe that you can make on a weeknight in under an hour. Lots of other recipes call for simmering for at least an hour, sometimes even more! The reality of that is tough, so we've perfected this chilli to be done in just 40 minutes.

Blackened fish is a game-changer. The technique involves seasoning the fish, in this case salmon, well and cooking it in a very hot pan with a decent amount of butter. The results are intensely flavoured salmon with a crust like exterior that's dark, but not burnt, and tender flaky salmon that isn't dried out from being over cooked.

Oh, chicken alfredo: It's the classic pasta we just can't seem to get enough of. Of course there are tons of jarred pasta sauces you can buy, but making alfredo from-scratch is actually so easy.

This Mediterranean-style fish stew is really easy, really flavourful, and most of all - super healthy. We left out traditional ingredients like saffron to make it cheaper, and mussels because it was just getting a bit too complicated. We kept it simple with cod and prawns, and it's delicious.

Aloo Gobi is a very classic Indian dish of potatoes and cauliflower. It's a one pot, super simple, comforting dish that's ready in 30 minutes flat. Full of flavour, you'll be making it every night.

Featuring big, bold, and spicy Cajun flavours, this blackened chicken recipe is so delicious and super easy to make. It's called &ldquoblackened&rdquo chicken because the heavily browned outer crust made possibly by preheated hot pan.

We like using rotisserie chicken for this recipe because (sometimes) we're lazy. If you have the time, these would also be killer with grilled chicken breast &mdash just swap lime juice for the balsamic and oregano for the rosemary and thyme.

This chicken and sweet potato curry is absolute comfort food goals. Thanks to the spices, it's gorgeously fragrant, and the addition of coconut milk makes it creamy.

When you're looking for something comforting and carb-y, nothing fits the bill like a good carbonara. This version adds a bit of protein by way of sautéed chicken breasts, making it the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner. No fettuccine on hand? Spaghetti, linguine, or capellini would all be great instead. Happy slurping!

Chow mein is our go-to for all types of meals, from an easy dinner to a serious hangover. We love the kick this recipe gets from fresh ginger, but if you're not a fan, skip it.

Gather the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients. These amounts will make 14 enchiladas. Adjust as needed depending on how many people you are going to serve.

  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 14 corn tortillas
  • 2 1/2 cups homemade enchilada sauce or one 28-ounce can or jarred store-bought sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese or other fillings like cooked and seasoned ground beef or cooked and shredded chicken. To make it easy, buy shredded chicken at the deli in your grocery store or buy a rotisserie chicken and shred the breast meat for your filling.

Recipe Summary

  • cooking spray
  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into thick fries
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil spray with cooking spray.

Place sliced potatoes in a colander sprinkle sugar over potatoes. Set aside until liquid is released from potatoes, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain liquid and dry potatoes well.

Mix potato slices, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a resealable bag until evenly coated. Spread coated potato slices in a single layer, leaving space around each potato, on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes flip fries and continue baking until crisp and browned, about 20 more minutes.

Step-by-Step Guide:

The first thing we need to do is parboil the wings.

If you’re not familiar with parboiling, all that means is were going to partially cook the chicken wings in simmering water before baking in the oven.

Boiling meat feels very strange, but I’ve done test batches comparing parboiling to straight baking, and parboiling is the way to go.

It helps get rid of some of the excess fat so the chicken wings are crispier.

It’s kind of like when you have to render out the fat on a duck breast in order to get it crispy. Parboiling boils away some of the excess fat so we can get a thin layer that crisps more easily than a thick and flabby layer.

After parboiling for 7 minutes, drain the wings in a colander:

Place the wings on paper towels and dry them very well, giving each one a squeeze.

It’s REALLY important to dry them well with the towels, because it has a big impact on how crispy the wings will end up later.

In order for the wings to get crispy, all the surface water must evaporate and cook off first, so you want as little there as possible from the start.


Homemade Country Gravy begins with a simple roux. Don’t let that word scare you off. A roux is just a combination of fat and flour cooked together on the stovetop. In the case of this Southern-style gravy, that fat is butter.


Standard all-purpose flour is all you need for a superb homemade gravy. Different types of flours have different levels of protein and will, therefore, work differently with other ingredients. For example, if you were to use self-rising flour in your gravy, you would essentially be adding baking powder to the ingredient list.


As far as the butter goes, unsalted butter will give you more control when it comes to seasoning. However, if you only have salted butter in the refrigerator, you can sub that in and follow the guidelines for adding seasoning mentioned below.


If you’d like to use bacon drippings in the place of butter, you can do so with this Country Gravy recipe. Use 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the place of the butter. Again, you will need to adjust the seasoning if using bacon drippings as they will have a higher salt content than unsalted butter.

You can also make Country Gravy with breakfast sausage (e.g. Sawmill Gravy), a popular topping for Biscuits and Gravy.

You’ll also need milk. You can use either whole or 2% milk for making Country Gravy.

Milk is what makes this a white gravy. If you’re looking for a brown gravy recipe, try out this easy Homemade Gravy made with chicken broth!


And lastly, for the seasoning, you will need only Kosher salt and pepper. If you do not have Kosher salt, you can sub in standard table salt, however, you’ll need to cut back on the quantity. Table salt is sharper in flavor than Kosher salt, so it would be wise to add no more than a scant 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting as you go.

Who knew you could make cherry cobbler with just three ingredients?

All you have to do to make this incredibly simple three-ingredient cherry cobbler recipe is to keep a few essentials on-hand at all time. In this case, all you need is a box of white cake mix, two cans of cherry pie filling, and a stick of butter. Yep, that's it. Simply melt the butter, dump the cherries in a pan, mix the butter and cake mix together to make a crumbly topping, pour it on top of your cherries, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes. You could probably do the whole thing in your sleep.


Barbecue Seasoning

Step 1

Whisk paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl to combine. Makes about ½ cup.

Step 2

Do ahead: Seasoning can be made 1 month ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Chicken and Assembly

Step 3

Combine chicken and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and 4 Tbsp. seasoning and toss again to evenly coat. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

Step 4

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add brown sugar cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. seasoning cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ketchup cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, molasses, mustard, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Set sauce aside.

Step 5

Prepare a grill for medium-high indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side for a gas grill, leave 1–2 burners off). Lightly oil grate. Grill chicken over direct heat, turning every minute, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Move chicken over to indirect heat, cover, positioning vent over chicken if your grill has one, and grill, turning every 5 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 140°–145°, 18–25 minutes. Uncover grill and continue to grill, basting with reserved sauce and turning occasionally, until thermometer registers 165°, about 10 minutes longer.

How would you rate Sticky Barbecue Chicken?

I cannot rave about this recipe enough! In terms of making your own seasoning and sauce, it does not get any simpler! I keep the dry rub in a jar and use it wherever I want a BBQ flavor. I love it! I have made it at least 3 times in the last year and continue to come back whenever I want BBQ chicken.

This is a killer BBQ Chicken recipe! Made it several times and it's turned out fantastic I think the real star of this is the BBQ sauce - seriously the best BBQ sauce I've ever made and in the running for my favorite sauce out of all the BBQ I've sampled over the years. Have made the sauce by itself several times just to use on pulled pork and anything else I've wanted BBQ sauce on. Literally no reason to ever get store-bought sauce again with something this tasty and simple. I've made this for friends and everyone raves about how good it is and are shocked when they find out I whipped it up in the kitchen. Thanks BA!

I've made this sauce 3. maybe even 4 times now. It's so good. Started with the thighs but have also done mixed thighs and drumsticks, and would honestly put it on anything from a whole cut up chicken to just wings. It's a lot of ingredients and takes time but it's gotten easier and faster every time, and now I've made bulk of the dry mix and have it ready to go!

This is delicious. It was so very good I was actually happy we were in quarantine and could not share with others. I will make this again and again.

Followed exactly and these came out perfectly! The marinade and sauce are both incredible - smoky, spicy, and just the right amount of subtly sweet. Was only able to marinate the thighs for the minimum 2 hour time and they were still super flavorful.

This chicken is far and away the best barbecued chicken I've ever made. At first I thought all the different ingredients would be overwhelming, but instead they are perfectly balanced and create a glorious and sumptuous flavor. The lemon pops just when you least expect it, giving the chicken a bright piquancy. Simply divine.

Really really good. I smoked two chickens (full chickens spatchcocked) outside at 300-325 (ish -- that's a hot smoking temp) for three hours, and sauced the chicken the last hour. Really flavorful, the sauce had a nice kick to it. Started the marinade in the morning.

I am a little confused about the seasoning! The barbecue seasoning recipe makes 1/2 cup, and the recipe calls for 5 TBSP should I have some left over?

This turned out excellent, and I've made it twice. Both times the chicken temperature stalled as soon as you begin to sauce. They sort of lingered at 140 until you start to put them back over direct heat. Since thighs are so forgiving, you can probably wait until they reach 155-160 before beginning to sauce and turn. The Juneteenth spread in the issue has a lot of great recipes, and the seasoning is used frequently. Great issue to pick up. I also made the potato salad and shrimp crackers. The crackers were wonderful.

That barbecue sauce is heavenly!! If I’m not making the chicken again I’ll definitely be making that sauce. The recipe was super easy to follow and I even added some drumstick to accompany the chicken thighs. Really great barbecue!

This is the only BBQ chicken recipe you ever need. 10/10 Don't skip any steps. I liked that the lemon flavor came through even with all the other spices.

The sauce in this recipe is awesome! It has a good balance of sweetness and spice with some acid from the lemon. I cooked the recipe with a spatchcocked chicken instead of thighs and it came out great.

Delicious and easy to use pantry ingredients - great to satisfy that smoky and sweet bbq chicken craving

The BBQ seasoning and sauce was very tasty. I would use 1 lemon and the juice next time. I ended up using 2 medium-large lemons and the chicken ended up having a really strong lemon flavor that did not mesh the best with the BBQ sauce.

Expert Tips

Here are some tips and tricks middle eastern moms use for the perfect kofta kebabs each time. So pay close attention here as these tips are going to make your kofta stand out

  • In order for your kofta to be tender and juicy we will need fat. In Egypt kebab shops usually use lamb tail fat or what we call "lyieh". It is not easy to get it here in the US so instead we use ground lamb meat. If you would like to make it with beef only use ground beef that is no less than 20% fat.
  • You will need to finely grate/process or chop the onions then squeeze the juices out as much as you can. Just throw the onions in your food processor then squeeze through a cheese cloth or a fine mesh much like what I did here in the chops recipe.
  • This juice can be used in many ways, first you can soak your bread in it for more flavor. When you squeeze the bread though, you will be left with some so do not discard. Wet your hand in this water while shaping the kofta, gives even more delicious flavor. Some even brush the kofta with the onion juice.
  • Adding a bit of flour, although optional but highly recommended. It helps in shaping the kofta and maintaining its shape. This little amount of flour also absorbs unnecessary liquids that might cause the kofta to break apart.
  • Bake in the oven before grilling: I like cooking kofta in the oven for 10-15 minutes before grilling them for another 5. Covering the pan with foil and letting them cook in the oven helps kofta stays tender and juicy and not to dry so fast also it prevents sticking to the grill racks. Then you just put them on the grill to get those grilling marks and to brown a little more.
  • Or bake them entirely in the oven: If you do not have a grill or your weather does not permit grilling then bake kofta in your oven. Preheat oven to 350, place the kofta on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then move up to the upper rack for 10 minutes but do not turn the broiler on. Of course, every oven is different so just use your cooking senses or meat should reach 160 degrees F on an instant meat thermometer.
  • Make ahead tip: You can freeze them in a single layer until firm then place them in a zip-lock bag. Bake right from frozen there is no need to thaw. Just give them a couple of minutes more.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Frosting

These Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Frosting disappear within minutes at our house. They taste like something you would buy at an expensive cupcake shop. The secret ingredient is Buttermilk! It makes them very moist and dense, similar to our Coconut Cake Recipe, and are best if frozen overnight. The lemon cream frosting is to die for, I could eat it with a spoon right out of the mixing bowl!

If you are planning a celebration of any kind, cupcakes are the way to go. Birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers, graduation parties, school parties are all more fun when cupcakes are served. Over the past few years, gourmet cupcakes have become very popular. It doesn’t take much effort to go a step beyond the store bought cake mix and pre-made frosting. These yummy Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes are the perfect example of how easy it is. We have more delicious options for fancy (but, easy) cupcakes below.

Watch the video: Making A Murderer. Trailer HD. Netflix (January 2022).