1 pan in which you’ve cooked a protein; it should have a brown glaze on its bottom
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons butter in 1-tablespoon portions
Classic pan sauce
This is for the steak and pork tenderloin we serve in class, so it uses beef stock (if we had time, we might use chicken or—if we had it—pork stock for half of it and make two sauces).
The point is that the principles apply for any pan–cooked meat, from chicken to veal to lamb—even a hearty fish like salmon. Just follow the sequence and the heat management tips below, and substitute: different aromatics for the shallot; one or more flavorful liquids for the wine and stock; different herbs for the thyme. Adding the butter is the trickiest part, but even if your sauce breaks, it will still taste good.
Pour most of the fat from the sauté pan, leaving only enough to film the bottom.
Add the shallot and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the shallot separates and softens.
Add about half the wine. Using a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula, scrape the brown stuff off the bottom of the pan, dissolving it in the wine. As soon as you’ve done that, add the rest of the wine and the thyme.
Turn the heat to high and bring the wine to a boil. Cook until about half the wine has evaporated (this is called “reducing”). Add the beef stock, and again reduce by half.
Pour the reduction through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan. (This refines the sauce, but also cools it.)
Wait about one minute for the reduction to cool a bit more. Or test it by carefully sticking a (clean!) finger in the liquid. If you can barely keep your finger in it, it’s ready.
Using a metal whisk, mix the butter into the reduction one tablespoon at a time, making sure the first is fully incorporated before adding the second.