Friday, July 27, 2007

A Saucey Chef pt 2 : Reduction Sauces

In my previous post on sauces I covered the leading sauces and my personal favorite derivative. Today I'm turning my sights to the reduction sauce and sharing a great recipe for Halibut.


These are popular today because they are lighter and full of flavour. From the kitchen's point of view reductions are also easier to prepare and keep over service which is often several hours long. Believe me keeping a Hollandaise sauce over a brunch lasting from 11am to 2pm is the stuff of nightmares!

Reduction sauces can be made from stocks (please not the canned/boxed type), wines, juices or as a pan sauce.

Generally the rules about sauces are never red sauce with a white fish. The recipe I'm writing up today, something that came from culinary school, breaks that rule but it is completely worth it!

Steamed Halibut and Port-Red Wine Reduction
1 5oz (thick) halibut fillet
3/4 cups dry red wine
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 of a medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp dried fennel seed
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 cup port
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter
5 seedless grapes, peeled and halved
1/4 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 oz piece of foie gras (this dish is fabulous without this, extra specially fabulous with it)

In a sauce pan combine red wine, red wine vinegar, carrot, onion, fennel seeds, peppercorn and garlic. Reduce this by half at a gentle simmer. DO NOT BOIL
Add the port and reduce by half again.
Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and hold until remaining components of the dish are near completion.
Set up a bamboo steamer over a wok with water or an appropriately sized pot of water. Steam the Halibut for 7-9 minutes or until done.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Score a crosshatch pattern into the foie, season with salt and sear on both sides just until nicely caramelized. This will only take a few minutes.
Heat a small fry pan with 1 tsp of butter and quickly fry grapes with tarragon
Finish the reduction sauce by re-heating and swirling in 2 Tbsp of cold butter.

To plate this dish:
Place the Halibut in the center of the plate, top this with the seared foie gras and garnish with the grapes. The sauce is then spooned around the Halibut NOT over.
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The method of reducing the sauce in the above recipe is what some believe to be a technique that produces more depth of flavour. By first reducing the wine, then reducing the port with the already reduced wine. The same technique can be used when reducing stock, start with one cup, reduce it by half or better and add another cup, reducing and repeating as needed.

If this really does give more depth of flavour to the finished sauce; I'm still experimenting.

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