Thursday night I made my second attempt at a reduction sauce. The first attempt, several months ago, was a somewhat complicated red wine reduction, but it didn’t seem complicated enough to stop me from trying it out one night when we were having my parents over for dinner. Cut to: me snapping at my husband and mother when they offered help, almost getting into an argument with my husband in front of my parents, my mom throwing some cornstarch into the pan to try to thicken it up with no success. In the end, we drizzled the sauce on our grilled steaks and it didn’t ruin the meal, but it wasn’t the deliciousness that it was SUPPOSED to be. It was thin and barely had any taste at all. And definitely felt like a wasted effort.
Last week while surfing the internet, I came across a recipe for a “simple and easy” white wine reduction sauce from the Cooking Light website. Delicious on pork or tossed in pasta, they said. It sounded fast and fresh and easy – perfect for weeknight pork chops. All I had to do was sautee some chopped onion, add some white wine, chicken stock, white wine vinegar and chopped chives, bring to a boil and continue to cook until reduced “by almost half.” So simple – I just typed those steps from rote memory.
Before getting things going on the stove, however, I did a little googling on how to make a reduction. They said don’t worry too much about whether or not it reduces exactly to half or one half, or whatever the case may be. Just let it happen, they said. Or something like that. They also said the larger the surface area of the pan, the less time it will take to reduce. So I used a wide bottomed saute pan just like in the picture. The recipe recommended about five minutes for it to reduce but after five minutes, it was, you guessed it, NOT reduced. And watery. So I kept the pan on the burner and watched it very closely and carefully until suddenly it was mostly onion and chive with a little bit of thin watery reduction left. Into the garbage it went, and my husband pulled a bottle of barbecue sauce out of the fridge.
Ok fine, it’s not like I wasted a ton of time, energy or ingredients but what a disappointment! I wanted white wine sauce! And I had visions of future lovely white wine pasta dishes. A secret weapon I could whip out at a moment’s notice.
So my question is…should I even bother at a third attempt? Will that be the charm? Better yet, does anyone have any tips on how to make a reduction that actually reduces and isn’t a watery mess? Thanks!