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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Monday, January 22, 2007

How to Make a Reduction Sauce

Don't waste those yummy bits of seared meat, poultry or fish - make an easy reduction sauce with them in just minutes! The sauce can be used to top the meat, or can be used later to dress up vegetables, sandwiches or grains.

The base for your sauce is the fond - all those yummy browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pan after searing. After removing the meat from the skillet, aromatics such as minced shallots, garlic and herbs can be sauteed in the same pan. Cook these until they are softened slightly, no more than a couple minutes. Watch the fond, making sure it does not scorch, or the finished sauce will taste burned and bitter. You can also add flour in now for a thicker sauce later.

From here begins the deglazing - a process where a liquid (usually wine or stock or both) is added and the fond is scraped up from the bottom of the pan. The liquid will sizzle and steam on contact. The liquid is then simmered until it reduces. Most recipes will call for reducing the liquid by 1/2 or 2/3 of its original quantity. Reducing concentrates the flavors, making for a rich, potent sauce to top your meat or veggies.

Final steps: 1) return the meat juices (if any) to the skillet for a richer flavor, and then whisk in butter, olive oil or herb-infused oil for flavor and added thickness, and 2) add salt and pepper. Always taste before salting; salt can bring up the flavors, but if the stock you've used is salted, adding too much more can ruin the sauce.

Make sure you use a nice, heavy bottom saute pan or skillet for the best pan sauces. A non-stick skillet won't be able to develop the fond to the same degree as a traditional skillet, and will make a less flavorful sauce. See my September 24 entry, Virtues of a Good Pan, to learn more about good quality multi-ply pans and why they are the most touted pans by professional and home chefs.

A simple sauce like this is easy to make, and by using your creativity along with your favorite herbs, wines and vinegars, the possibilities are endless! Any creative ideas?

Red Wine Reduction with Rosemary [print recipe]

1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Remove the meat from the pan, leaving a few teaspoons of the fat for sauteeing. Add the shallot and saute 1-2 minutes until just tender. Watch the fond (bits of meat), being careful not to let them scorch. Add in the flour, stirring constantly for one minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the balsamic vinegar, wine and stock, scraping the fond from the bottom, stirring constantly to keep the flour from clumping. Place the sauce back on the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until it has reduced by 1/2.

Whisk in the rosemary and olive oil. Taste for seasoning before spooning over meat, tofu or vegetables.


At 9:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question...How do you separate the Fond from the Reduction? I'm trying to understand Reductions and want to create one that is taste tempting as well as pleasant to the eye. These bits and pieces would make for an unappealing presentation. I'm new to this but I love to cook and want to learn more.

At 4:06 PM , Blogger Alison Anton said...

Actually, the fond pieces don't make an unappealing presentation - they are actually a part of the sauce and make it taste so great. If you really can't stand it though, you can strain the fond from the sauce with a fine meshed sieve. That should do the trick! Happy cooking!

At 1:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your reduction recipe is titled Red Wine... but you have white wine in the ingredients. Is this a typo or do you actually use white wine?

At 2:28 PM , Blogger Alison Anton said...

Oops! Sorry about the typo in the recipe. I just changed it to "red wine". On another note, you can also use a beef stock or vegetable stock... anything goes!

At 2:29 PM , Blogger Alison Anton said...

To clarify: I meant you can use a different stock to replace the chicken stock, not to replace the wine. :-)

White wine vinegar is also fine. Play with different tastes.

At 6:31 PM , Blogger Doug said...

question...what is the ideal heat for making a reduction. I have a problem with this. low, medium, high?

At 11:27 AM , Blogger Alison Anton said...

Hi Doug - Use a medium-high heat. This will give it enough heat to reduce the sauce. Low heat will not allow the sauce to reduce. Extra high heat might burn the fond at the bottom of the pan, making it too bitter. With a medium-high heat, the sauce should reduce in 3-6 minutes, depending upon how thick or thin a sauce you want.


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