Origins & Information - (A-Z) Reductions

The entree you are about to order has some kind of reduction sauce. It sounds fancy though so you'll order it anyhow. Red wine reductions - sounds neat. However, what makes it different from other types of sauces? What you may learn when you have anything with reduction sauces is that it's quite thick. While sauces used to be thickened through various methods such as adding flour, fat, and cornstarch, they are now thickened through the reduction technique which highlights and intensifies flavors in the sauces.

A reduction sauce is just as the name suggests. The liquids used are boiled down, or reduced, until they have just enough liquid left to give it a saucy consistency but otherwise are mainly solid. It is made from the drippings/leftover juices of meats that are cooked. Those have liquid ingredients added to them including stock, cream, wine, and the like as well as different solid ingredients for flavoring such as capers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. Cooks will use it to drizzle onto the meats they've cooked or to artfully decorate the serving plate. They are rich in flavor and complement their dishes well.

Reductions can be made easily but can be a little time consuming because you don't want your sauce to burn while the liquids are evaporating. The basic steps in making the sauce are to add your second base liquid (cream, stock, wine, etc) to the meat drippings in a pan (after you've removed excess fat) and turn the heat on high. The added liquids should be twice the amount you wish to end up with since they will be evaporating; for example, use two cups of stock if you want one cup of sauce. Stir your sauce to ensure that no solids are left on the bottom (scrape if you have to) until the liquid has reduced by half. You may also add in herbs, seasonings, and butter as you like. Once the liquid has been reduced by half, you may turn the heat to medium or low for a simmer so you don't reduce too much. The rule of thumb is that the sauce ought to be thick enough to coat a spoon and stick; if you've reduced too much, add a bit more stock. Before serving, make to strain the sauce through a sieve to get the purest form of the sauce as you can. Enjoy with food! If you have a chance, try making some at some point but if you don't want to, at least you now know what reductions are. Common ones you'll see in restaurants are balsamic vinegar reductions and an assortment of wine reductions.

This post is part of an A-Z series I am running for my blog category "Origins and Information" while I am in Vietnam with my family for July. Many of the posts in the series answer questions that were posed by friends/readers. If y'all enjoy the series, I will gladly run another in the future!