“The preparation and appearance of sauces and gravies are of the highest consequence” (Mrs Beeton)
If you read recipes I published so far you probably guessed that I am a big fan of sauces. Whether the dish is sweet or savoury the sauce is extremely important. It binds the dish together. Individual components of the dish might be great but they don’t come together until you add sauce to the equation. You can compare it to building. You can have best quality bricks available but you won’t build a solid wall until you add some mortar between them. A cook that mastered sauces can transform mediocre dish to spectacular. The simplest sauces consist of cooked and sieved fruits, as in tomato sauce or raspberry coulis. But for sophistication of flavour and texture there is much more to a sauce than this. Today I present you one of my absolute favourites – red wine jus with juniper flavour. This sauce requires a bit more attention than a plain veloute or apple sauce. But reward is more than worth it. Thick and silky smooth with perfect balance between acidity and sweetness, notes of juniper lingering in the background. It is simply divine and I can guarantee it will elevate any beef or venison dish. It works ideally with beef steak but it will also be a good accompaniment to venison or duck breasts. Give it a try next time you serve steaks and you won’t regret it.
Serves 2. Recipe adopted from the original by Michel Roux
- 40g banana shallots, finely chopped
- 200g red wine (preferably medium bodied)
- 300g beef stock
- 14 juniper berries, crushed
- 2 tblsp redcurrant jelly
- 25g butter, chilled and diced
- Seasoning to taste
- Put the shallots and red wine into a saucepan, bring to boil over a medium heat and continue to cook until reduced by one-third.
- Add the beef stock and juniper berries and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until reduced by another one-third.
- Add redcurrant jelly and stir to dissolve.
- Take the sauce off the heat and pass through a conical sieve into another clean pan.
- Return to the heat and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until reduced enough that it leaves a noticeable film on the back of a teaspoon.
- Add in the butter, little at a time whisking continuously to ensure the butter emulsifies. Check for consistency and reduce further if you prefer thicker sauce. Remember, the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools down.
- Season to taste and serve in a sauce boat.
What is your favourite sauce?