If there is one thing that every cook needs no matter what skill level, it is a set of staple recipes. These are the recipes that you can whip together quickly if you’re running late, you have nothing else prepared or you just want a quick bite. You won’t regret having a few up your sleeve. Someday, they will save you lots of time and effort.
A simple pan sauce is the king of quick staple recipes. It is extremely adaptable. You begin by cooking your entree in a skillet. I like to saute chicken breasts or steaks for this recipe. Set the meat aside once it is done, wrapping it in aluminum foil.
You can do a few things at this point. You can add finely chopped shallots and saute them in the same skillet, unwashed, of course. You can also use onion or a mixture of garlic and either one. Then, deglaze the pan with a liquid. I like to use a bit of the wine we are having, but you can also use whiskey, brandy or sherry. Whatever you have around will do. You want to make sure and scrape up the yummy browned bits.
Then, you can add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of broth or stock. Get the liquid boiling to reduce by one-half. You can then thicken it with a 1:1 mixture of cornstarch and cold water. Test for seasonings, and you have a sauce.
These butters are ridiculously easy to make and yield fantastic results. All it takes is a little prep at the start of your meal. You can save the leftovers for another day.
The basic plan is to soften butter to room temperature. Figure about 1/2 tbsp per serving. Next, add salt and pepper with your choice of herbs. Some good combinations are:
Chives and rosemary
Chives and thyme
Parsley and thyme
Shape the butter into a log with wax paper. Place it in the fridge and finish preparing your meal. This gives it time to meld and develop its flavor. When dinner is ready, top your entree with a pat of the compound butter. As it melts, it will deliver its tasty flavor to your dish. It couldn’t be simpler. Butter in the freezer will last six months or longer, making compound butters a great way to extend the life of your fresh herbs.