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4 Steps to a Built-In Sauté Sauce

4 Steps to a Built-In Sauté Sauce
There are a lot of reasons why I love, love, LOVE to sauté…first off, it’s super easy. As the first of The Fabulous Five, this must-know cooking method is key to becoming confident in the kitchen.


Secondly, sautéing is a quick way to get a good meal fast. This is the perfect method to master if you have a family, work late nights, or don’t think you have time to cook at home. Trust me, you don’t need to waste your time, money, or waist line at the box (drive-thru that is). Sauté a delicious dish in minutes.

And last but not least, sautéing comes with a built-in opportunity to up the dish with a complementary sauce. Using the run-off from the pan, you can create a mouthful of flavors that will add moisture, texture, and aromas to your main meat or veggie.

Once you’ve removed your product from the sauté pan, you can get started with a tasty topper using the steps below…

#1: Gather up that good good and add liquid.

Start by removing any excess fat from the pan that didn’t get absorbed during sautéing. Cover the bottom of your still hot pan with wine or stock to begin the deglazing process. This is where you gather up all the brown bits, or “fond”, that stick to the bottom of the pan during sautéing.

Fond is French for “bottom” so let’s keep the French going…

Using a wooden spoon or spatula unearth the fond from the pan while combining it with the wine or stock over high heat. The deglazing process will give your sauce a deep and customized flavor that should pair perfectly with your finished product.

Adding white wine to the brown bits of flavor, or fond, stuck to the sauté pan.

#2: Reduce to the sucs.

Next, reduce the liquid in the pan to almost, but not quite, a dry pan, or “sucs”.

Sucs comes from the French word (notice a theme?) sucre, or sugar. The reason we use it to describe this state of our sauté pan sauce is because after the reduction, what’s left are tiny pieces of caramelized sugars.

To reduce the liquid, increase the heat to medium high until it boils. Let boil uncovered until the amount of liquid has reduced to the sucs stage.

#3: Add moisture and thicken.

There are a couple different ways to go from here but I like to add a prepared sauce base. Some options include a demi sauce, reduced stock sauce, vegetable puree or coulis sauce, and/or cream. All of these can be added now and then reduced a bit more.

If your sauce needs a bit of thickening I would add a starch slurry or better yet, Wondra Flour for correct consistency.

Cream is added to the pan, along with thyme sprigs for added flavor.

#4: Finish with flavor.

Finish and garnish the sauce with herbs, essences (e.g. infused vinegars, shrubs, and aromatic extracts for additional flavoring), cold butter, or similar items like one of the five Mother Load of Sauces:

  1. Béchamel
  2. Velouté
  3. Espagnole
  4. Tomato
  5. Hollandaise

In regards to adding butter, or “monte au beurre,” which means to add cold butter pieces to a finished sauce, this is an option that will give your sauce a nice sheen.

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