Deglazing - what is it and why we do it

Deglazing is a cooking term for using the flavour packed residue left at the base of a pan or roasting dish after cooking a steak or roast to make a sauce, jus or gravy.

Essentially, it’s adding cool liquid to a hot pan, to unlock the colour and flavour of the cooking juices. Restaurant chefs use this technique all the time, and it’s a method that you may already do, without realising it. Like when you put stock or wine into a roasting dish to make gravy.

Why deglaze

While you are roasting or pan-frying beef or lamb, the heat will have made some of the juices ooze from the meat. As you continue to cook the meat the moisture in this these meat juices will evaporate, leaving a residue in the base of the pan.

This residue or ‘pan fond’ (fond is French for "base" or "foundation") has concentrated flavours. To make the most of this flavour, liquid like stock, wine or even water is added to the hot pan. The deglazed juices form the foundation of a sauce to accompany the meat.

Which deglazing liquid to use

  • Stock - seasons as well as flavours and is a good base. You can use half-stock and half-water or salt reduced stock.
  • Wine – both red and white wine contribute distinctive flavours.  It’s worth noting that boiling and then simmering the wine mixture will evaporate off most the alcohol, but does not eliminate it entirely.
  • Beer and other drinks such as brandy – like wine these add flavour (and a little alcohol).
  • Juice – tomato or even apple juice suits some beef and lamb dishes.

Deglazing residue in a roasting dish or pan

  • While the meat rests, drain off excess fat from the roasting dish or pan.
  • Place the roasting dish or pan on the cook top over a moderately high heat.
  • Add stock, wine or other liquid. Bring to the boil, scrape the base of the pan to dislodge and dissolve the meat residue as the liquid comes to the boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about half.
  • Add any meat juices from the rested roast or steaks if you like.
  • You can use this simple deglazed juice over the meat, or make a richer sauce like a peppercorn or creamy mushroom sauce with the deglazed juices as the base. 

Essential tip

Make sure you start out with deep browned meat residue, not any blackened bits in the base of the pan.

  • Brown bits (residue) add flavour and colour.
  • Black bits simply add a burnt taste.

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