Making Pan Sauces in a Nonstick Pan

Can you make a proper pan sauce in a nonstick skillet?

Can you make a proper pan sauce in a nonstick skillet?

Unlike sauces that take hours to become concentrated and develop flavor, pan sauces take just a few minutes and are made in the same skillet in which the meat or poultry is cooked. These sauces typically rely on fond (the browned bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan) for added flavor. The fact that nonstick skillets don’t allow much fond to develop made us suspect that sauces made in them would have less flavor. To find out, we cooked chicken breasts in nonstick and stainless steel skillets, then made a vermouth pan sauce in each. Sure enough, the sauces made in nonstick skillets were pale compared to those made in stainless steel. Also, we noticed a striking difference in the flavor of the sauces. The sauce made in stainless steel had robust chicken flavor, while the sauce made in a nonstick skillet was watery and weak.

THE BOTTOM LINE  For best flavor and color, stick with stainless steel.


MEEK FLAVOR: The same sauce made in a nonstick skillet lacks flavor.


DEEP FLAVOR: Pan sauce made in a stainless steel skillet is dark and rich.

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