A while ago, I read a short bit in Gourmet magazine about the basics of making reduction sauces which expanded and gave finesse to my cooking. I want to share what I learned by providing you with the basics of making these types of sauces here.
1 Tablespoon of chopped or sliced shallots
1 cup of wine-red, white, marsala, port
1 cup of stock-beef, chicken
1/2-1 cup of cream or 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
herbs if you like-rosemary, tarragon, etc.
salt and pepper
Here’s how you do it:
Brown your meat in oil or butter then remove it to the oven to finish. The meat bits left in the pan are called the fond (I swear I read that word somewhere, but apologize if I’m making it up and if so, oh well, it works!) You should end up with a little fat left in the pan and to this you add 1 Tablespoon or so of shallots and cook until softened, add salt and pepper, then deglaze the pan by adding your wine of choice, stirring to loosen any bits still stuck in the pan. Cook on high and reduce this by half. It should be a busy boil. Then add stock and your herbs, and reduce again by half. Then add 1 or 2 Tablespoon of butter, whisk and serve.
Or add the cream and reduce again. The original recipe I saw said to use 1 cup of cream but I’ve been happy adding a few tablespoons or a whole cup, depending on the dish. Whichever you choose, do reduce again by half if you use the whole cup. And there you go, you have a fabulous sauce to go with your meat and you look like a rock star chef! The possibilities are endless and I encourage you to experiment. This can make a weeknight dinner feel like a meal at a restaurant.
Here are some good combinations I’ve loved:
lamb chops with port, thyme, stock and cream with dried cranberries added at the end
chicken with a 1/2 cup each white wine and lemon juice, rosemary, stock and cream or butter
chicken with shallots, marsala, stock and the full cup of cream