Reduction Sauce

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A sauce made with the juices released from oven roasted or stove top cooked foods, such as meat, poultry or vegetables. The released juices become the base for the sauce, to which other ingredients may be added, such as wine, fruit juices, tomato paste, or bits of foods and herbs. The juice is boiled (or steamed) separately and stirred constantly to evaporate excess liquid (such as water), thus reducing the volume of the juices into a thicker consistency, providing a more intense flavor. The resulting liquid is strained and then used as a base for sauces, soups and stews. Gravies, meat sauces, wine sauces, and fruit sauces are all examples of reduction sauces that are used to enhance the flavor of foods being served.

A simple procedure for making a reduction sauce begins by removing the meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables from the pan containing the juices after the foods have cooked. Estimate the amount of juice remaining and add to the pan containing the juice twice as much water, wine, vermouth, liqueur, fruit juice, cream, milk, or any other stock desired for the sauce being prepared. On a stovetop burner, heat the combined liquids to boiling in order to evaporate the excess fluids. While doing this, stir continually and attempt to scrape the bottom of the pan to mix in any excess solids provided by the cooked foods in order to add flavor to the sauce. Cook the reduction sauce until evaporation decreases the sauce to half its beginning volume, turning down the heat to medium, being careful not to reduce the sauce too much, resulting in a somewhat dull tasting sauce with less aroma. Some sauces require additional thickening, so it may be wise to add a little cornstarch or flour to assist with the consistency if necessary. Also, butter, extra-virgin olive oil, or cream can be added to provide a thicker or more flavorful sauce.

For sauces to which a non-alcohol alternative is desired, use verjus, a wine without alcohol, lemon juice, or white wine vinegar as a substitute. The acidity provided by a cup of the alcohol ingredient can be replaced and balanced with a half cup of verjus or a wine without alcohol, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. It would be wise to add the amounts slowly, testing the results for the desired flavor before adding the entire amount of substituted liquid.

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