Reductions were one of the few things that when I started cooking scared me. It wasn't that it was necessarily hard nor required special equipment; No, none of that. It requires attention to details.
Not to scare you off before we even start, but the first few times you make a reduction you're going to want to be around. The first few times I attempted one of these I got distracted and they slipped from reduced to burnt before I could get back to it.
There are a lot of classic reductions out there (demi-glace for example) and they all provide something that's very hard to get with a normal sauce— they cling to things. They're good for drizzling on top of foods to give that extra "umph" when necessary; To raise the bar on the food with one simple addition.
Wine reductions don't have any extra or special mojo, but you're going to want to start with a wine that isn't overpowering from the get-go. Remember, we're concentrating it's flavor here, so you start with something oaky and overpoweringly sweet, it's going to be even sweeter and oak-ier the more we reduce it.
That being said, the reduction we're making today is part of a classic Catalan dish, botifarra de porc amb foie d'ànec fresc (Pork and foiegras sausage with white beans and port). This could be made with a straight pork sausage (I'm actually not a fan of foie at all), just so long as it's fresh. Great northern beans can also be used.
To make the reduction you'll need about 15 shallots, peeled and chopped in half, season lightly with salt and pepper, and rolled in about 3 Tbsp olive oil and roast them in a 400°F oven until golden (20 minutes or so). When they're done put them in a heavy bottomed wide pot and add 4 cups of a good port wine. Put this over high heat until it comes to a boil then bring the heat down to medium and reduce until there are 1 1/2 cups of liquid left. Strain out the shallots and let cool. The beans can be made by soaking over night 1 cup cannelloni beans, and then simmering until soft in just plain water, set aside. Put the sausage in a pan over medium heat until brown on one side, flip and add the beans. Splash in about 4 Tbsp of port and cook until the sausage is done. Serve the sausage over the beans with the port reduction drizzled on top.
Todd Kennedy is a self-taught foodie/chef who writes the blog Gute Essen about the meals he cooks for himself and his friends.
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
- Blog comment by Dan, Feb 23, 2008.
Todd, I thought this was going to be another, over-written, article about reduction in wine. What a pleasant surprise. Thanks for the recipe.