Deglazing is a simple way of adding that extra kick of flavor to your sauces and gravies when roasting various meats. When frying, baking or roasting meats, you will notice dark brown meat that has been stuck to the bottom of the pan, caramelized with the heat. These pieces of meat are called fond. The idea behind deglazing is to come up with a sauce that carries both the color and flavor of whatever dish it is that you have just cooked or roasted. You can then add this sauce to the gravy you have prepared for the dish. There are a number of ways to deglaze a pan.
There are several schools of thought on deglazing a pan, and they vary according to what type of liquid to use. While some would prefer that you use wine as the main liquid for the deglazing process, others swear by simply using stock, or even plain water with a bit of salt in it. Yes, water and salt! Other chefs would not personally recommend using alcohol for the deglazing, mainly because of the alcohol content. If you were to use wine for deglazing a pan, you would still have to bring the wine to a boil, thereby removing the alcohol content of the liquid, and removing its strong taste. If you do not bring the wine to a boil, and then let it simmer by itself for a few minutes, the flavor of your final sauce will suffer. You may end up disappointed with the final result. Instead of wine or stock, you can even use soda, beer and other spirits for deglazing pans.
First, you have to remove the excess fat bits from the pan, by either spooning these bits out or pouring the fat out of the pan itself. Turn the heat off, and pour a generous amount of hot, boiling stock into the pan, scraping up the deposits from the pan as you go. You can do this, or you can also have the pan over medium-high heat as you add the liquid, which will be either wine or stock, at your preference. The amount of liquid you use depends also on your personal preference, so judge this by the amount of fond still stuck to the pan. Normally, a half-cup of whatever liquid will do. You will need to put the pan with the liquid over medium heat in any case, as the point would be to loosen the little fat deposits that have stuck to your pan. Scrape up the deposits from your pan and dissolve these, and pour the entire amount of liquid through a strainer, in order to get rid of any solid food particles that may find their way into your sauce.
While your meat is cooking you will start noticing the little fat deposits beginning to coagulate in your pan, you should also be adding small amounts of water to the pan at this point. This mainly keeps the juices of the meat from being lost due to the roasting, especially in a hot oven. Adding too much water, however, will result in you steaming your roast, and seeing as you are trying to save the drippings, having too much water at any point will defeat the purpose. At this point, you will achieve a thin, flavorful sauce. Should you desire a sauce with a thicker consistency, you may also choose to add flour to the mix, resulting in a more gravy-like sauce for your meats or vegetables. You can then use this sauce to accompany your main dish.