One of the things I missed after Celiac disease diagnosis was gravy. I thought all “sauce” was a flour-based gravy. All gravy involved using white flour so I knew my gravy days were over.
Then I bought a stainless steel pan and the wide world of reductions was opened to me. I learned that brown food IS good food. Those brown bits left from searing meat are little flavorful goldmines just begging for broth, wine, or vinegar to make them into something fabulous. What about a sauce that does not have seared meat bits to lean upon? What about lonely vegetables that need a big kick of flavor to make them sing? This is where a reduction happens. Here is the wiki definition.
In cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling.
One tool needed for a reduction is a shallow pan with sloped sides. A basic skillet or fry pan works great. The sloped sides allow for faster evaporation.
You also need a liquid. Many recipes call for a red wine reduction which is simply adding red wine to a pan and letting it reduce or evaporate until the desired volume and consistency. Some recipes begin with melting a fat source, such as butter, and adding an acid like vinegar or wine. There are many ways to make reductions and they do not require flour.
For a recent recipe, I toyed with making a brown butter reduction. I love working with butter to get it to that state JUST BEFORE burning when the flavor takes on a nutty, almost sweet note. Add an acid in the form of wine, vinegar or fruit juice. Stir frequently as the sauce reduces.
Brown Butter Balsamic Reduction
- 4 Tablespoons of butter
- 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1. Add butter to cold shallow pan. Turn stove to medium heat.
2. As the butter melts, swirl pan occasionally. Once it begins to brown, do not leave it alone. Swirl frequently until the butter turns to a golden brown.
3. Add vinegar and stir frequently as the sauce bubbles and steam evaporates. When the sauce thickens to a syrup-like consistency, remove from heat and drizzle over vegetables or meat.