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How to Deglaze a Pan for Great Sauce

Photo: Jennifer Causey

The Thanksgiving dinner table isn't complete without a rich gravy made from the turkey drippings. Follow this easy visual step-by-step for a fool-proof way to make a great pan sauce. 

The turkey is roasted and resting on the cutting board. Now it’s time to turn those pan drippings into liquid gold, aka, the gravy. A pan sauce or gravy is the best way to make sure those bits of meat and drippings from either your Thanksgiving turkey or a weeknight chicken turn into the most luscious gravy you've ever tasted. Once you master this simple technique for deglazing a pan, you'll be looking for any reason to make a pan sauce every night.

Follow these step-by-step instructions for a foolproof pan sauce guests will keep coming back for. The guide below is for the Classic Turkey Gravy recipe. This recipe calls for chicken stock, but you could use wine. Feel free to try something different, like oregano instead of thyme, or a delicately flavored oil like walnut oil instead of canola oil.

How to Make a Pan Sauce

1. Line a large glass measure with a zip-top bag. Carefully pour the drippings from the roasting pan into the bag. Wait about 10 minutes—the fat will rise to the top. Lift the bag out of the glass measure and snip a small hole in the bottom corner. Immediately pinch the hole closed. Let the juices drain slowly from the hole into the empty glass measure, pinching the hole closed again just as the fat layer reaches the bottom of the bag. Discard the bag with the fat.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Deglazing a Pan

2. Place the roasting pan over medium or medium-high heat on your stove and add the liquid. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits, called fond, in the pan. You don’t want to boil the liquid just yet—the gravy will reduce once simmered in the saucepan. This step is simply to free the delicious bits from the roasting process (and make the pan much easier to clean).

Photo: Jennifer Causey

3. Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan to remove any bits of meat or skin. Add the remaining liquid and simmer until reduced, about 8 to 10 minutes. Dip a metal spoon into the gravy. If you can run your finger down the back of the spoon and it leaves a clear trail, the gravy is ready. Remove from the heat and stir in fresh thyme. Pour into your favorite gravy boat before bringing to the table.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Want more gravy with that turkey? Use the same steps above for Gravy Bordelaise or Maple-Pepper Gravy to add variety to the dinner table.

Have leftover wine? Make wine ice cubes! Pull out a cube or two for your next pan sauce or to add oomph to your classic recipe.

Have leftover gravy? You can freeze that, too. Pour into an ice cube tray, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freeze-safe container. Remove a cube or two and heat in a small saucepan or the microwave any time you need a saucy topping for your dinner.