What's that? Pan sauces are only for when eating out at a restaurant? Only chefs make them? They're scary and complicated? Pfffft! I disagree! If you can cook a chunk of meat in a pan, you can make a pan sauce.
I wish I'd been able to take pictures of the process, but it was already dark when I made dinner, so pictures were not an option. This is actually a pork chop I saved so I could take a picture of it today. It was actually my pork chop for dinner, that I didn't eat, so I could take a picture today. I'm pretty sure my husband didn't quite understand my sacrificing my dinner so I could write this post... I had a really nice lunch today, though ;) I'll take pictures another time so you can see how totally easy it is.
One of the keys to a pan sauce is to not move the meat around in the pan. It needs to stay in one place as it cooks so it develops all the yummy browned, stuck-on stuff on the pan (technically called "fond"). Browned stuff = flavor. (Note: Some people will tell you that you can't use a non-stick pan if you want to make a pan sauce. Not true! I do it all the time. You just must leave the meat in one place, turning once, while it cooks in order to create the browned stuff.)
After the meat is cooked and removed from the pan to rest, you deglaze (fancy word for "getting the browned stuff unstuck") with a liquid. Just about any liquid works. This time I used chicken broth, but sometimes I use white wine and let it reduce. If I'm making beef sometimes I use red wine. You could even use fruit juice if you wanted (apple juice and pork? Yum.). Next some herbs for flavor, and a little flour to thicken. Add back the juices that have accumulated on the plate where your lovely chops have been resting (don't skip this part, those juices are loaded with more flavor), then a little butter to add richness, and you have a fantastic pan sauce.
Oh, make sure you have some lovely bread to soak up any extra sauce...you won't want to waste any of it. Also, this would be equally as delicious made with chicken instead of pork.
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 pork chops, 1/2 to 5/8-inch thick, about 1 to 1-1/4 lbs total (I used boneless)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon flour mixed w 2 tablespoons water or broth
1 tablespoon cold butter cut into 2 pieces
1. Lightly season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a 12-in skillet (non-stick or regular--if using a regular skillet you will need more oil) over medium heat until hot. Add the olive oil and let it heat for about 10 seconds. Add the pork and cook for 3-4 minutes, (without moving it) until it is nice and brown on the bottom. Turn the pork over and cook another 3-4 minutes (without moving it) until it is nice and brown on the other side. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and cover with a bowl to keep warm.
3. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and scrape up the browned bits that are stuck to the bottom with a wooden spatula. Add the thyme and garlic powder, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.
4. Add the flour/water mixture, stirring constantly, until well combined. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened, 3-5 minutes (it reminds me of room-temperature pancake syrup).
5. Add the pork juices that have accumulated on the plate where your chops are resting, simmer for a minute or two, and remove from the heat. Add the cold butter and stir the sauce until the butter has melted. Put the pork chops back in the skillet, and swish and turn them to coat with the sauce.
Makes 4 servings.