And it's perfect with steak or seafood.

Next week is February 14, a.k.a. Valentine's Day, a.k.a Galentine's Day, a.k.a. Valhalla-ntine's Day if you're a viking. You might have plans to go out, or stay in, or ignore the day all together and watch Netflix with a lasagna. All of those are good ideas! But if you're deciding that the 14 is the night to cook up something special for someone, or just for yourself, may I suggest investing in a truly spectacular sauce?

Sauces are the heavy-hitters of the culinary world. They make everything taste even better, bind together dishes, and take a simple protein like steak or grilled chicken into something that's worth featuring on a restaurant menu. One of the classic ways of making a sauce is using the little browned bits that are left in the pan after you cook meat to build flavor. In French culinary tradition, those little bits are called sucs (pronounced SOUKs) and they are precious elements of sauce flavor. But in a pinch, or if you accidentally let them go from pleasantly browned to acridly burnt, you can make a pan sauce without them.

If you're cooking up a steak or some nice seafood next week, its worth going the extra mile for a sauce. And what says opulence more than a champagne and butter sauce? Basically you take the pan you cook your steaks and scallops (or whatever other protein you're using) in, degrease it—meaning pour off any residual fat that might be on there—pour in a little lemon juice, a diced shallot, and about a third of a cup of champagne or dry white wine, and use the liquid to deglaze the pan. That means taking a wooden spoon to scrape up those delicious little brown bits. Reduce the wine until it's been reduced to about two tablespoons. You can eyeball it rather than pour it out to measure, but you want to make sure you don't skimp on the reduction part—that's what takes away the alcohol taste and turns it into a mellow, delicious sauce. Then you get to do what french chefs call monter au beurre and what we get to call droppin' in a nug of butter. Voila: a gorgeous sauce.