Reduction Sauces, What They Are and How to Make One

A reduction sauce is simple what the name implies-reduction.  It is an elegant way to make use of all those delicious pan drippings from a pan grilled steak or a sautéd chicken breast. It is adding liquid and reducing it by heat so as to concentrate the flavors and infuse thosescrumptious flavors in the pan you may have previously thrown away.  A reductionsauce is NOT a gravy.  It is a sauce.  The difference is a thickening of the flavor without thickening the sauce itself.

A reduction sauce can be made with wine, vinegar, milk, cream, stock and can be sweet or savory. One thing to keep in mind, if you are making a savory sauce, do not add extra salt until the end.  The reason being that the concentration of the flavor usually makes it salty enough.  Also in the choice of wine, the best should always be used-what you drink, you cook with.  In the Urban Cookbook, there is no such thing as ‘cooking wine’, there is only wine.

There are basic steps to making a classic reduction sauce and there are always a few simple steps.  Remove whatever meat or vegetable you have sautéd.  Add about twice as much liquid you would want in your sauce.  Turn the heat on high.  Now you must stir and continue stirring while at the same time scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the sometimes crispy bits of flavor.  Continue to stir until the sauce is reduced by half.  At the very end, you might add butter or lemon to balance whatever it is you are going for.  Butter smooths it out, lemon sharpens it.  Strain the sauce and serve hot.  Here is a recipe for a wine reduction sauce to serve over steak.

1″ thick strip steak or tri tip

1 shallot

olive oil

2 cups red wine

1 tablespoon butter

Pour enough olive oil into the pan to keep the steak from sticking.  Peel and chop the shallot.  Put heat on high until the oil begins to smoke.  Season the steak with coarse sea salt and coarse ground black pepper.  Add the steak.  Cook each side twice for 3 minutes. After the first turn, add the chopped shallots.  Make sure to stir the shallots so they don’t burn.  Remove the steak. Add the wine.  Continue to stir and scrap the bottom of the pan to loosen the crusty flavor and the shallots. When almost reduced by half, add butter. Continue reducing until reduced by half.  Plate the steak.  Strain the sauce and pour hot over steak.  Enjoy!  Serve with that beautiful red you have used in your PERFECT reduction sauce!

If you find this recipe useful and GOOD, you can view many more, some with video, on cooking, music, and art, all in a city flavor on my site, Urban Life.