Uses for “Liquid Gold” (aka Leftover Braising Juices)

I cooked a cut of pork loin in my slow cooker yesterday for pulled pork sandwiches. The recipe I used was from a terrific site, 101 Cooking for Two (, and the results were delicious!

There were about 2 cups of liquid left over and I wondered what I could do, later on, with these juices. Come to find out, there are lots of uses for what the food editors and chefs at Bon Apetit magazine call “Liquid Gold.” In fact, one chef went on record stating “An angel loses her wings every time you throw out that leftover braising liquid!”

That wouldn’t surprise me, because as I researched the topic, one common piece of advice kept popping up: DON’T throw this precious stuff out; it has bounteous uses. Here are just some of the many clever things professional chefs and home cooks do with their leftover “Liquid Gold.” Maybe you’ve already tried one of these ideas? We’d love to hear your success stories.

  • Many cooks said they like to simmer root vegetables and boneless chicken thighs in the liquid and then serve it over polenta or rice.

    Speaking of rice, replace the recipe’s water or stock with these juices. If there’s not enough of the meat juice, just add water or stock to make up the difference.

  • Use it when making a meat sauce. Depending on how much is leftover, cook it over med-low heat and reduce it to a nice thick consistency (enough to coat a spoon). This is only if you have a cup or two left. After reducing the sauce, let it cool, then a nob of butter to create a lovely creaminess.

    If you have a lot of this liquid left (3-4 cups), make a roux and use this juice to make gravy.

  • Adding these juices to any soup or stew recipe would intensify flavor, adding a real zip.

  • Legumes (lentils, split peas, and beans) are amazing when this liquid is added to the recipe.

    And speaking of soup, leftover braising juices make an excellent base for French onion soup!

  • These “leftover” juices and meat fat contain major savory flavoring power and can be used just like butter and vegetable oil to sauté a side of leafy greens or add that extra-crisp texture to roasted spuds.

  • Speaking of spuds, cook peeled potato chunks in this liquid to make flavored mashed potatoes.

    Or, if you just want to save the juices to use as part of your next meat braising or pulled pork sandwich cooking, then freeze them in an air-tight container. When ready to use, thaw them in the refrigerator and then add them in to your recipe.

The key is to taste your “Liquid Gold” and try to imagine where its flavor best belongs. The pros suggest using richer, meatier specimens to season split peas, particularly salty or aggressively-flavored ones with lentils, and lighter braising liquids (or at least somewhat diluted ones) for rice. The possibilities are endless; follow your heart.


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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