Pro Series Class 8: “Small” or Pan Sauces

This post is part of a 9-part series related to my completion of the Pro Series 1 professional culinary arts course at The Culinary Center of Kansas City with Chef Richard McPeake. This course changed my cooking world! An introductory post can be found here.

I loved week 8 of our Pro Series 1 class, and Chef told us that it is offered periodically as its own course. Knowing how to prepare the Mother Sauces is great, but the chances of you doing them on a weeknight with an almost-two-year-old clinging to your leg is slim. Pan sauces can be done every night. They’re quick. They don’t require perfection. They’re amazingly yummy. And, they’re perfect for dinner parties. In fact, you’re likely already doing some version of them on your own (I suppose melting Velveeta almost counts…).

It goes like this. Cook your seasoned meat product in a pan. Don’t burn it. Transfer meat to a plate. Get the pan off the heat so it doesn’t burn (see a trend?). Don’t clean the pan. Throw it back on the heat, and deglaze the pan by adding stock or wine to lift off all that yummy stuff. (Look! Your pan is already half clean for dishwashing!) Thicken your sauce (add a slurry of water/cornstarch or water/flour, reduce it, or add something creamy like sour cream or greek yogurt). Serve your fancy sauce and try to remain humble.

Weeknight Dinner Trick – Buy pork or turkey tenderloin and trim on the bias into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Trim all the fat off of each slice (easier than off of the whole tenderloin and you won’t mistakenly shave off a bunch of meat and start griping about rising food prices). Triple-wrap 2 slices with plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a mallet or a rolling pin (I use the bottom of a stainless steel spoon rest) until thin. Warning: This will make noise and everyone will stare at you. You can freeze these in packs of 2-4 for a quick weeknight dinner. They thaw very quickly and cook in only minutes per side.

Dinner Party Trick – Cook pork or turkey scallopini in advance and keep it warm in the oven while you prepare your sauce. Once the sauce is prepared, platter the meat in a neat little row and drizzle the sauce across the center just before serving. Warning: Do not try this with chicken or your chicken will dry out in the oven and you will be really really mad.

And of course, our dishes for the night:

Chicken al Bercy (white wine herb sauce)

Turkey Scaloppini with Smitane Sauce

Pork Cutlets with Fresh Portabella Marsala Wine Sauce

Apples with Brandy Butter Sauce (half-eaten…oops!)

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