50 Minute Recipe for Preparing Green Peppercorn Sauce
My wife handed me this recipe cut out from our local newspaper the other day and said let’s try this. It was for Meatballs with a Green-Peppercorn Sauce. The meatballs looked pretty standard and I will talk about them some other time but I was really interested in the Green Peppercorn Sauce.
The total preparation time is about 50 minutes for both the meatballs and the sauce. While the sauce is reducing, you are supposed to be working on the meatballs. Now you may be thinking that 50 minutes is just a little more time than you want to spend on making a sauce for dinner in the middle of the week and I agree.
We made this sauce over the weekend when we had plenty of time and didn’t mind spending it on making a sauce this good. And believe me, this sauce is awesome!!! Putting it on meatballs was great, but I would use it on a prime cut of beef which I did a couple of nights later.
The reason this sauce takes so long is because there is a lot of stock reduction going on. Typically in a restaurant, they use an ingredient like demi glace, a brown sauce that is already reduced and is the base for all the classic sauces. Making a true demi glace at home takes a lot of bones and a lot of hours. Well worth the time if you have it and effort if you like this sort of thing, but for most of us, it is a pretty daunting task.
I prefer to use one of the good commercial products available on the market but more on that when I tell you how I made this same sauce in 20 minutes. For now, let’s look at how to make an incredible Green Peppercorn Sauce for meatballs, beef tenderloin or whatever else you fancy putting it on.
Green Peppercorn Sauce – 50 minute version
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
½ cup decent brandy (I used a Cognac because I didn't have any brandy in the house)
1 cup red wine
1 cup port
2 cups of homemade beef stock or a good commercial brand
½ cup heavy cream (half and half if you are counting calories)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine
How To Prepare At Home
Mince the shallots. To prep the green peppercorns, I removed them from the jar, drained any of the brine and placed them into a Ziploc bag. I then proceeded to smash them with a meat mallet I use for pounding chicken breasts or veal into scaloppini. You could also try using your heavy bottomed saucepan or even a can of soup.
Heat your saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil and let it get hot but not smoking. Add the shallots and cook until they are a golden brown but pay attention and keep stirring so they don't burn and you have to start all over again. Should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the mustard and sherry vinegar. By the way, sherry vinegar is not that easy to find. If you can't find it in your local supermarket, you may have to look in a fancy gourmet store like William Sonoma or try finding it on the Internet.
Reduce this combination by half, which takes only about 1 minute. Add the brandy or Cognac and cook to burn off all the alcohol. About 3 minutes. I like to remove the pan from the flame on the stove top before adding any liquid that contains alcohol and can potentially blow up in my face. It shouldn't happen if you remove the pan, but be careful.
Next, add the red wine and port and reduce again by half. This takes a good 20 minutes. You want the sauce to be simmering so if starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low.
How do you know when the sauce is reduced by half?
Well, you could look at the sides of the pan and try to keep track. Not very easy to do. I use a wooden shish kabob skewer that I place into the sauce and measure where the liquid comes up to. Every once in a while I put it in again and see when it is down by half. If anyone has a better method, I would love to hear from you.
When the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and add the cream, butter and crushed peppercorns. Taste and season for salt.
My kids love sauce on their food especially steak but there is no way they would eat it with the spicy peppercorns. So what I do is remove a little of the sauce before adding the peppercorns and keep it separate for them.
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