If you’ve always wondered how to make reductions, here’s everything you should know, from the ingredients to the step-by-step process.
The reductions, as the term already suggests, are sauces that have been reduced by evaporation of liquids. It is possible to prepare a reduction of almost any ingredient, from wine to vinegar to liqueurs. The two most important aspects to pay attention to when deciding to prepare a reduction are the quality of the starting ingredients and the cooking temperature .
In fact, reducing an ingredient means concentrating its flavor , therefore starting with a poor quality ingredient means obtaining a concentrate of unpleasant flavors. Cooking also plays a fundamental role because it must take place constantly and at a moderate heat, without the formation of humidity. But now let’s see in detail how to make the reductions in the kitchen.
Preparation of the reductions: basic recipe
In general, as mentioned, all liquids can be reduced in order to create a perfect flavor concentrate to make your recipes even tastier. A reduction can be used to accompany meat or to flavor salads, but also to serve desserts, as in the case of sweet reductions.
- To prepare a reduction, place a generous amount of your ingredient in a thick-bottomed pan.
- Adjust the heat to medium-high intensity and start cooking.
- Mix as little as possible to avoid heat loss and absolutely do not use the lid: the humidity that forms would definitely compromise your reduction.
- When your starting liquid is reduced to one third , the sauce is ready. You can keep it in the refrigerator for over a week.
As you can see, there are no difficult steps to get a good result. Although the reductions are made with many, indeed many, ingredients, let’s follow the recipe of the most famous sauces.
Red wine reduction
It is among the most popular in the kitchen due to its versatility. You can simply shrink a good quality wine or create a more aromatic version as follows.
Ingredients for red wine reduction:
- 500 ml of red wine
- 50 g of butter
- 30 g of corn starch
- 1 shallot
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1 sprig of thyme
Chop the shallot with a knife and brown it in a pan with the butter and thyme. Dissolve the cornstarch in the wine to which you have also added the vinegar then pour into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to a third of its initial volume.
Reduction of balsamic vinegar
It is among the simplest to prepare, but also among the most versatile. All you have to do is pour some quality balsamic vinegar into a thick-bottomed pan, add any aromas (aromatic herbs but also spices such as cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, etc.) and let it reduce for about 20 minutes , until when it has not halved its volume.
The reduction with balsamic vinegar will always seem rather liquid but do not worry: when it cools it will take on the right consistency. Try it for example in our recipe for baked ham with balsamic reduction .
Reduction to beer
The procedure is similar to the previous one. Pour the beer, choose it clear and of excellent quality , in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. It will take about an hour for the liquid to reduce in volume but be careful because in the early stages a lot of foam may form and come out of the pan.
Prepare the beer reduction one day in advance then store it at room temperature until you are ready to use it.
Perfect to accompany any type of meat but also to make your first courses more refined, the Marsala reduction can be prepared in a few simple steps.
Ingredients for the marsala reduction:
- 100 ml of dry Marsala
- 1/2 teaspoon of acacia honey
- 20 g of butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of starch
- 1 pinch of salt
Pour the Marsala, honey and salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then add the butter and the starch, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming and cook for a couple of minutes, just long enough for the sauce to reduce. Once cold it is ready to be used.
Primo Chef tricks, shortcuts and tips
Often you do not have the material time to wait for the liquid to reduce or your efforts have not produced any results. Don’t give up in these cases, there are some shortcuts you can take to prepare a reduction in no time . You will simply have to use thickeners , nothing too particular, only ingredients already present in the kitchen. Which?
Reduction with flour : the first way to prepare a quick reduction is to add flour to your liquid. But be careful, it takes very little, it must be added to the hot liquid and you have to mix well because it tends to form lumps rather quickly. If this should still occur, transfer everything into a jug and blend with the hand blender.
Reduction with starch or corn starch: these two ingredients are perfect because they allow you to prepare fast (almost) risk-free reductions. Also in this case add them a little at a time, preferably dissolving them first in a little of the liquid taken from the total and then incorporating it later. The ideal would be to add them cold and then reheat everything.