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Monday, December 10, 2012

Port and Pepper Sauce

 Angus beef patties with port and pepper sauce - easy weekday meal

A simple, plain meal can turn into something quite elegant and delicious with the addition of a great sauce.

Mike made this sauce that he served with a barbecued steak and got rave reviews - something along the lines of ''wow - you cook like a chef''.   It is pretty versatile and goes well with so many dishes (I leave out the pepper and use it with tourtière or replace the beef stock with veal stock and serve it with veal Schnitzel) - the technique remains the same.

In order for a sauce to have wonderful depth of flavour, it must be deglazed at least 3 times.  This just means that each time you add a liquid, you allow it to boil down enough to caramelize (or reglaze) at the bottom of the pan. In essence, the water has evaporated from the sauce and you are left with very intense flavour.  The process does take a little time but is quite worth the effort (about 1/2 hour and can be done while you are preparing something else).  It is not difficult but does require careful attention so that it does not burn.  

Finally, for a wonderful sauce, the best ingredients must be used, i.e. good wine and good stock.  I have noticed that many butchers at our market are now offering frozen prepared veal stock and demi-glace.   If you have a little extra time, you can always make your own veal stock that can be frozen and used when needed.

You will need:  to accompany 4 servings of meat

  • 1 medium shallot (20g), finely diced
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of port wine
  •  1 1/2 cups (700ml) of good quality beef or veal stock
  • 2 - 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp of cold butter
  • 1.5 tbsp of cornstarch diluted in 2 tbsp (30ml) of water/port or stock
  • salt 
  • 1tsp freshly ground pepper

1.  In medium saucepan, heat olive oil (1 tbsp - 15ml) over medium heat.  Add diced shallot (1 medium - 20g);

2.  Sauté the shallot until it just begins to colour (about 3 minutes);

3.  Deglaze the pan with the Port wine (1/4 cup - 60ml).  Scrape the bottom of the pan well to release and blend the flavours.  Allow to reduce until almost dry (5 -6 minutes over medium heat).

4.  Deglaze the pan a second time with 1/4 cup (60ml) of beef or veal stock.  Scrape the bottom and allow to reduce until almost dry (5-6 minutes over medium heat);

5.  Repeat this process once more with another 1/4 cup - 60ml of beef or veal stock.  Reduce until almost dry (5-6 minutes);

6.  Deglaze one last time with the remaining 1 cup - 240ml of beef or veal stock.  Add the thyme (3 sprigs) and the bay leaf (1) and simmer (light boil) for 3 minutes.  

7.  Add the cornstarch (1.5tbsp) that has been diluted with 2 tbsp of water/port or stock.  Allow the sauce to gently boil for 2 minutes.  The sauce will thicken;

8.  Add the cold butter (1 tbsp) and swirl the pan to allow it to blend and emulsify until it is completely melted.  

9. Remove from heat and strain over a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids to extract as much flavour as possible;

10.  Season with freshly ground pepper (1 tsp) and salt.  Gently warm when you are ready to use (do not allow it to boil).

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