Food

This Easy Hack Makes a Delicious Au Jus Without Pan Drippings

BY Laura Rege, TheKitchn.com TIMEFebruary 18, 2022 PRINT

No need to roast a whole beef to enjoy au jus, roast beef’s main sidekick. Thinner than a gravy, but slightly thicker than a sauce, au jus is the perfect dipping sauce for French dip sandwiches or a decadent sauce drizzle over meat and mashed potatoes. They’re classically made from beef drippings—those little brown bits, fat, and juices leftover in the roasting pan after roasting beef—but this version is engineered to be absolutely delicious with or without the drippings.

In lieu of drippings, we build flavor with garlic, thyme, Dijon mustard, and the absolute essential umami ingredient to both flavor and darken the au jus to a beautiful hue: Worcestershire sauce.

What Is Au Jus?

Au jus, which translates to “with juice,” is a classic French sauce mainly used to boost flavor in roasted meat dishes. It’s somewhere between beef broth and gravy and is surprisingly easy to prepare.

How to Make Au Jus With Drippings

Although this recipe is intended to be prepared on its own, don’t click away if you’re wondering how to use those precious pan drippings that only continue to boost flavor. Here’s how:

Start the recipe in a roasting pan set over a burner on the stove and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits into the jus on the bottom of the pan as the broth simmers.

If there is a fair amount of fat in the roasting pan to start, skip the butter or decant so you have closer to 1 tablespoon of fat.

Strain before serving to remove any bits from the bottom of the pan, and taste before adding salt. (Pan drippings have a fair residual amount of salt from the roasts.)

What’s the Difference Between Au Jus and Beef Broth?

Au jus is basically beef broth on steroids. Beef broth is made by simmering bones with mirepoix (typically onion, carrots, and celery) and aromatics (like parsley, thyme, and peppercorns) in water, extracting flavor and body. Then, to make au jus you amp up beef broth by simmering it with drippings from roast beef (double beef flavor!) or, here in our recipe, thyme, mustard and Worcestershire.

Au Jus Versus Gravy

Both gravy and au jus start with drippings from roasted meat and broth; however, au jus’s consistency is much thinner and more broth-like than gravy because it typically does not use a thickener.

Our recipe doesn’t use any flour, but if you prefer a slightly thicker au jus, just add a tablespoon of flour with the butter and cook, stirring about 1 minute to lightly toast the flour before whisking in the broth. Too much flour and you’ll go to gravy town, so it’s better to use just a little.

Au Jus

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Mince the garlic clove. Pick the leaves from the thyme sprigs until you have 1 teaspoon.

Melt the unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the thyme and Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Pour in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and whisk to combine. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors meld, about 2 minutes. If desired, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl or gravy dish, or serve as is.

Recipe Notes: Freeze au jus in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in a small saucepan before serving.

Laura Rege is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.
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