Reduction is the Key to Smoother, Silkier Sauces

SaucesThe secret to adding flavor (and impressing your friends on the side) is simple: thick and lush spoon-coating sauces.

The technique is easy: as your contents (usually a mixture of water, stock, wine, or beer) evaporate, wait for the remaining liquid to concentrate. But if you wish to really master the art of sauce reduction, a dash of savviness works.

How do you know that reduction really worked? It’s when you can draw a line on the back of your spoon with your fingers with no dripping.

Winning by Division

If you need sauce now, the food experts from Custom Culinary recommend dividing the sauces into two pans. This speeds up the process without compromising the sauce quality. For maximum effect, use two wide pans instead. If there’s too much liquid to begin with (e.g. cooking a large batch of braised short ribs), discard some of it before you reduce.

Time is of the Essence

On the other hand, if you’re not hurrying, give the sauce some time. Watched pots do not boil; the same applies for reduction. Good reduction techniques require a specific amount of time. It’s also more ideal to simmer the mixture than let it boil. If the heat is too much, it may result in a bitter sauce. For a regular batch of sauce, give it a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 30.

Better with Butter

When your mixture reaches the perfect consistency (the back-of-the-spoon trick always helps), it’s time to add some butter. Just whisk a tablespoon of room temperature butter for added thickness and creaminess. It also gives your sauce that appetizing glossy sheen. But don’t add the butter until you finish the sauce to prevent breaking.

The perfect pan sauce can be tricky, but by perfecting the art of reduction, you get a sauce that polishes your reputation as a cook.