When we were first learning to cook, simple terms such as braise, pan-sear, pulse, and spiralize used to simultaneously intimidate and impress us. What in that world did it mean to “pulse” an ingredient in a food processor? What was spiralizing, and how did it apply to zucchini? The list goes on and on…

Now that we’ve become more comfortable with the simple terms, we’ve trained our attention to the next set of culinary terms we want to master. While some techniques certainly sound fancy, they’re actually quite simple to execute and help elevate your dishes effortlessly with a little bit of practice. Today, the culinary technique we’re focusing on is the art of deglazing a pan.

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What Does it Mean to Deglaze?

The word “deglaze” might sound elaborate and advanced to you, but all it really means is to pour some cold liquid in a hot pan in order to loosen up all those burnt-looking brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan during the cooking process.

Why would you do this, you ask? Doesn’t a good scrubbing take care of all those nasty brown bits and leave your pan spick-and-span? The thing is, those brown little scraps sticking to the bottom of your pan have a culinary term. They’re called “fond” and they’re incredibly flavorful. Believe us: you want that fond.

How Do You Deglaze?

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You deglaze a pan by pouring a cold liquid into your hot pan and then using that cold liquid to loosen up the fond sticking to the bottom of your pan. The fond then gets incorporated into your sauce and infuses it with dynamic flavor. Here’s a step by step:

1. Remove Your Main Ingredient From the Pan

Are you making a veggie dish, like this Nigerian Ratatouille, perhaps, or maybe just preparing some Soy-Free Meat Crumbles to toss into a pasta? Whatever it is you’re making, once you’re finished with it, take the ingredient out of the pan, and don’t clear anything up.

2. Immediately Add Your Deglazing Liquid

Don’t wait — as soon as your main ingredient is transferred out of the pan, add your cold deglazing liquid. You can deglaze with wine, a no-bone broth, water, Vegetable Stock, vinegar, wine, fruit juice, vegan beer — whatever you want, really, as long as you think it’ll compliment the flavors of your final dish. Important Reminder: If you’re deglazing your pan with an alcohol, remove the pan from the heat before pouring in your liquid. You don’t want to end up singing off your eyebrows, or something worse!

In general, the rule of thumb is to use a 2:1 ratio of liquid versus the amount of sauce you ultimately want to make.

3. Bring the Liquid to a Boil, and Stir

Now raise the temperature to bring the liquid to a boil, and begin scraping and stirring the fond from the bottom of the pan with a spatula, spoon, or your favorite similar utensil. Incorporating the fond into the sauce until it is dissolved.

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Remember, this step is absolutely key — you want all those caramelized leftovers to amp up the flavor in your dish. Leave no fond behind!

4. Keep Stirring/Scraping Until Liquid Reduces by Half

Go ahead and taste your sauce once the liquid has reduced by about half (and prepare yourself to be blown away by your own masterful sauce making skills). If you think you’ve achieved perfection right off the bat, congrats! Take your sauce off the heat, because you’re all done. Otherwise, trust your taste buds and add in some vegan butter for more creaminess if your sauce needs it, more salt or pepper if it needs a boost of flavor, or whatever you desire.

Recipe Suggestions

Is there anything more comforting this time of year than a warm and cozy curry? This recipe for Brussels Sprouts Curry calls for you to deglaze your caramelized onion fond with coconut milk and veggie broth, while this recipe for Artichoke and Spinach Risotto With Lemon Cashew Cream, pictured above, uses wine to deglaze yummy crispy rice fond.

Want some flavorsome and unforgettable deglazed soup? Try this recipe for delightfully rich French Onion, Fennel, and Green Lentil Soup.

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Fans of mushrooms should try out this Portobello Chana Masala, and then move on to this Champignon Mushroom Risotto. You won’t regret it.

Continue your sauce-mastering journey by learning How to Make These Classic Sauces Vegan!

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead image source:  DenisProduction.com/Shutterstock