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What Is A "Fond" And How To Use It Properly?



What is a fond? To like someone or something? No not that kind of fond. A fond (French for "base") is the brown delicious bits and nuggets stuck to the bottom of the pan after searing meat and vegetables. One important thing to remember is that brown tastes and looks good. Black does not taste good or look good. If food turns black it's burnt, or more specifically proteins and sugars have been cooked away and what's left is essentially carbon, and that's where all the yucky stuff comes in such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). (More on these here) The French-derived word "fond" is due to the Maillard reaction, which is the reduction of sugars and amino acids from the impact of heat. (For more articles on the Maillard reaction click here)

So why is the fond so important, and how can we use it? Well, the fond is your base for any sort of sauce you want to make to pair with your roasted meat or veggies. Make sure to use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or perhaps stainless steel so that all the delicious caramelized sugars and rendered fat will stick to the pan you are using. Try not to use a non-stick pan for this technique.

After removing the food from your pan (depending on what kind of sauce you are making) you can either sweat some finely chopped garlic or shallots in the pan, or you can immediately go to the de-glazing step. Pour some cold liquid into the pan. This can simply be water or more fanciful liquors, wines, or fruit juices. This is going to halt the browning process and immediately lower the temperature in the pan. Between the boiling process of the liquid and gently scraping the bottom of the pan, the delicious fond should release from the pan and start incorporating into the sauce. This also makes cleaning the pan easier!



At this stage, you can start to add your aromatics, stock, or other ingredients to add a depth of flavor to your sauce. After everything has been reduced to about half (you'll know because as you stir the sauce you'll start to see ribbons in the pan), you should add some butter. This will create a more velvety sauce since the butter isn't cooked off at such a high temperature, and butter just tastes good because as they say, "fat is flavor."



And there you have it! You have just created a delicious reduction sauce using the fond from your food. You're one step closer to becoming a legitimate home cook!


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