Want to transform humdrum dinners into mealtime magic? It's easy! Hit the kitchen armed with these genius tips and simple recipes from our Every Day experts, and your friends and family will wonder if you went to cooking school on your lunch break!

Lesson 6: Whip Up a Killer Pan Sauce

The trick to decking out ho-hum pork chops, chicken breasts or steaks? Deglaze! Translation: Give the meat a good sear and then turn the stuff that's left in the bottom of the skillet into a two-minute pan sauce that's amazing drizzled over everything on your plate.

Chicken Cutlets with Citrus Tarragon Pan Sauce
Credit: Photography by Christopher Testani

Step 1: Bring the heat

Crank the heat to high and let the pan get super hot (it's ready when a drop of water skitters across the surface). While you wait, pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Add a drizzle of EVOO to the pan, then brown the meat on both sides. Let the meat cook to the desired doneness, then transfer it to a plate—but don't clean out the pan.

Step 2: Start your sauce

Add a little water or stock and something acidic, like wine, beer or a squeeze of lemon juice. (Quick ratio: Use a tablespoon or two of acid for every 1⁄4 cup water or stock.) Scrape the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen all the flavorful browned bits. Simmer until sauce thickens. For an even punchier pan sauce, before adding the liquid, throw in minced onion or garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Finish strong

Off heat, whisk in a pat of cold butter to give the sauce body and sheen. For a flavor boost, add a big pinch minced fresh herbs.

Now, try this technique on our Chicken Cutlets with Citrus-Tarragon Pan Sauce!

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