Reuse, Reduce, Reduction

14 Dec

I actually understand what that means now.

It always seemed like a throwaround word-such as antioxidant, heirloom, or maverick.

Once observed in practice, reduction sauces are a really cool thing. Basically, (and I’m writing it down so I understand) you take a liquid you’d like to make thicker (ie: beef stock, white wine, balsamic vinegar, maybe even fruit juice [wouldn’t a Sunny-D reduction be postively odd]) and add it to a sauce pan. You rapidly boil it until the liquid volume reduces. The boiling takes away some of the water or easier to boil components, leaving more solid and flavorful components.

I watched my friend Laura make a balsamic reduction. She took leftover olive oil from breaded tilapia and put some butter in it. She let the butter melt and the mixture browned after about two minutes. Adding the balsamic made some intense sizzles and noises (I always enjoy that whoosh noise when adding white wine to a different recipe). The liquid boils fast and has to be stirred, and eventually, you’re left with a thick and aromatic sauce, with all of the flavors from balsamic.

Though I haven’t attempted one, after hearing how easy it is, I’d love to give gastrique a chance.

To make a gastrique, you boil equal parts of water to sugar until it caramelizes, then you add whatever flavor you want to sit in this mixture. Vinegar comes in to neutralize some of the sweetness and give a balance that’s a bit thicker. Reduce that. Add another liquid. Reduce that.

Pretty sure it gets to the point that reducing gets smaller and smaller and could become non-existent, but this sounds so cool.


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