The Simple Secret to Cooking Like a Chef

No, you don’t need the white button-up getup and chef’s hat, nor do you need five million hours of intensive kitchen prep to make restaurant-worthy meals. Drum roll please….. the secret’s in the sauce! Having an arsenal of just a few special sauces will turn any plain chicken breast or fish fillet into an amazingly delicious dinner. Believe me, when I whip up one of my simple sauces my family always rants and raves about how delicious it is and they somehow get the impression that I’ve spent hours in the kitchen creating some kind of magical flavor concoction. Little do they know these babies can be whisked together in less than 10 minutes! Although I can’t argue that they really are magical flavor concoctions.

So if you are tired of simple pan-seared proteins, and need a fresh outlook on your dinners, you are about to take your cooking to the next level! The following are some of my favorite easy pan sauces that you can whip up while your main protein (steak, chicken, pork chops, fish, seafood or foul) is in the oven. Once you get this technique down you can play around with other herbs, flavorings and ingredients to make your own quick and delicious secret sauce.


Sauce                          Liquid                             Flavoring                   Enrichment                 

Red Wine & Dijon  
      ¼ cup chicken broth           1 Tsp Dijon mustard               2 Tbsp butter
(w/ steak)                         1 cup red wine                      thyme or sage
Orange-Dijon                1 cup orange juice             1 Tbsp Dijon mustard             2 Tbsp butter
(w/ seafood)                                                          1 Tbsp minced rosemary
Balsamic                      ½ cup balsamic vinegar                  none                              2 Tbsp butter
(w/ fish or steak)            ¼ cup chicken broth
Marsala                        ½ cup Marsala wine            1 Tbsp minced garlic              2 Tbsp butter
(w/ chicken)                                                            1 cup sliced mushrooms
Cooking Directions

Combine liquids and flavoring and simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced by 75% of its original volume. There should only be a thin layer of fluid left in the pan. Remove the pan from heat. Whisk in the enrichment 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is smooth and glossy (do not bring to a boil after you add butter, as it will separate). Pour over protein of choice and serve.

As you get the hang of sauce-making, dinner will become a breeze! Soon you’ll be whipping out super yummy meals like Julia Child.. with or without her distinguishing accent!

Do you have any special sauces or sauce-making tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear!

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