Sunday, August 1, 2010

The best thing in the kitchen

This is my first real blog entry. I don't really count the mission statement.

I recently discovered that quite a few people I know don't have any idea that all the black and brown crud left in the bottom of a pan is some of the most flavor packed and best tasting stuff in their kitchen.

After you pan fry or saute anything there is usually some black and brown crud left on the bottom of the pan. This "crud", for the lack of a better word is probably the best tasting thing in your kitchen. This is where deglazing comes into play. Pour most of the fat out of the pan making sure to leave all the caramelized bits, i.e. the crud. Return the pan to the heat and add a liquid. Almost any liquid will do. It can be as simple as water. Stock and broth are both good choices. Wine is also an excellent choice. Just add the liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon scrape until all the all the stuck on bits are no longer stuck on the bottom of the pan.

At this point you have what is known as a fond.* It's a French word meaning base or foundation. You can serve the fond as is if you want a thin sauce, sometimes called a jus. Or you can thicken it by adding butter or flour or cornstarch. If you decide to use flour make sure you cook the sauce for several minutes after adding the flour. If you don't all you will be able to taste is the raw flour and believe me, you would be better off serving elementary school library paste with your dinner.

* Just for the sake of clarity, you should know that many cooks also use the word "fond" to describe the crud in the bottom of the pan.

Sausage Gravy
1. In a large skillet, preferably cast iron and definitely do not use a non-stick pan, brown 1 lb of sausage.
2. After the sausage has browned remove it from the pan leaving about 4 tablespoons of fat in the pan.
3. Place the pan on a medium-high burner.
4. Add 4 tablespoons of flour to the pan and cook until the flour and fat mixture, also called a roux, is light brown in color, about 5 - 10 minutes.
5. Add 3 cups of milk to the pan and stir making sure to scrape all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Stir until it comes to a boil. Be careful, once it gets hot enough to start boiling it will quickly (very quickly) get hot enough to boil over and out of the pan and all over the top of the stove, the front of the stove and even onto the kitchen floor..
6. Add salt, pepper and cracked red pepper to taste.

It will thicken as it cools.

If it is too thick add more milk, if it's too thin you can leave it on the burner and reduce it by boiling water off. And remember what I just said above, it will thicken as it cools.

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