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For the best sauces, learn to become fond of fond
Fond is one of the important parts of making a tasty pan sauce. In March, the word “fond” was added to merriam-webster.com.
The basic thing to understand about fond is that it builds flavor. By definition, a fond refers to those little browned bits of food that are often stuck to the bottom of the pan, skillet or baking dish, especially after searing meat or poultry.
These browned bits are packages of flavor. You can make use of them by deglazing a pan with a liquid, which will help release the browned bits. As you heat the liquid, you can begin scraping up the bits. The liquid will begin to develop flavor courtesy of the concentrated pan juices and the food bits.
It’s best to use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. The liquid in the pan will thicken slightly as it becomes a sauce. It should at least coat the back of spoon like a glaze. If not, continue cooking.
Once the sauce is done, you can strain it if you like or whisk in a few pieces of cold butter for added richness. The butter will help thicken the sauce.
Today’s recipe is a favorite for flavor and because it’s quick to make. The pan sauce gets added sweetness from apricot preserves.
Pork With Blue Cheese Crust and Apricot Glaze
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops, about 5 ounces each, trimmed of excess fat
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Morton’s Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons sliced chives
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
2 cups pears, diced small
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with the pepper and the seasoning blend.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook 3 minutes on each side or until they are brown. Transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix together the blue cheese, chives and breadcrumbs. Break any large pieces of cheese into fine crumbs.
Top the pork slices evenly with the cheese mixture. Bake about 12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155 degrees.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, in the same skillet used to saute the pork, add the pears. There should be enough oil still in the skillet; if not add a teaspoon or so. Saute the diced pears until they are nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in white wine, deglazing the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the preserves and mustard. Cook until the preserves melt. Add more wine or broth to thin the glaze.
To serve, arrange pork on plates and spoon glaze with pears on top.
Nutritional analysis: 553 calories (21 percent from fat), 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 72 g carbohydrates, 39 g protein, 769 mg sodium, 97 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber.
Pan-roasted Chicken Breasts With Shallot-thyme Sauce
Preparation time: 1 hour
4 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed, brined if desired
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
Salt and pepper
For the chicken: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook breasts, skin side down, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip breasts and brown lightly on second side, about 3 minutes. Flip breasts skin side down, transfer skillet to oven, and roast until chicken registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, 15 to 18 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Transfer chicken to serving dish and let rest while making sauce.
For the sauce: Being careful of hot skillet handle, pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat left in skillet. Add shallot and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, vermouth, and thyme sprigs, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened and measures 2/3 cup, about 6 minutes.
Discard thyme sprigs and stir in any accumulated chicken juices. Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Off heat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.
Nutritional analysis: 280 calories; 134 calories from fat; 15 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 109 mg cholesterol; 360 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 27 g protein.
From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
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