Simple Reduction Sauce

January 2, 2014 2 Comments

pan sauce

How to Make a Simple Reduction Sauce

A reader wrote to me to say that he cannot make a reduction correctly.  He said that it never reaches a saucy consistency unless he uses a slurry or a roux to thicken it.  He wants to know if he is missing something.

I love reductions and reduction sauces, so several years ago I read everything I could find about how to make them, and now I can make a really good reduction.  The most important things to remember about reductions are that you have to start with a flavorful liquid.

You can reduce water all day long and never end up with a sauce, right?  Also, the texture of a reduction is generally thinner than a roux or slurry-thickened sauce.  A reduction will just coat a spoon–think the consistency of real maple syrup or cough syrup.

The Difference Between a Simple Reduction & Reduction Sauce

A simple reduction is made by keeping a flavorful liquid or mixture of liquids at a temperature that will allow a lot of the water to evaporate, leaving behind a syrupy sauce and concentrated flavor. They are very easy to make.  You simply leave a pan of liquid, like Port or balsamic vinegar, over very low heat for several hours, or until the volume is reduced by about 3/4.

So, if you start with 2 cups of liquid, your final reduction should measure around 1/2 cup.  If you like your reduction a bit thicker, reduce it some more.  Just don’t let them boil, because your reduction can become bitter. These types of reductions are great for garnishing a plate, drizzling on a cheese plate or fruit or as the base of a vinaigrette.

A reduction sauce is a sauce that is made from the fond left in the pan after cooking a protein; usually some aromatic vegetable such as onion, shallot or garlic; a bit of acid in the form of wine, fruit juice or vinegar; and some stock.  The volume of the sauce is reduced through simmering to encourage rapid evaporation.

That definition sounds a little complicated.  Here’s a basic recipe for a red wine reduction sauce that might help to clear things up.

Simple Reduction Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup

Serving Size: 4 - 6 servings

Simple Reduction Sauce


Fond from searing beef or lamb

2 teaspoons cooking oil or bacon fat (if no fat is left in the pan)

1 small shallot, minced

1 cup full bodied red wine

1 cup beef or veal stock

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, thyme and rosemary work well here

How To Prepare At Home

Remove the meat from the pan. Cover with foil to rest.

Add the oil or bacon fat to the hot pan, if needed, along with the shallot and wine.

Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until all the fond is released and the shallot is soft.

Continue to cook until the wine is well reduced. The mixture should be very syrupy and thick, and there should be no more than 1/4 cup left in the pan.

Add the stock and simmer again until reduced by at least half.

Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Do not season before reducing, because your sauce will be too salty. Add a little salt and/or pepper if needed.

Swirl in the butter, a bit at a time. Adding this fat is an optional step, but it helps to make the sauce silky and tends to round out the flavors.

Swirl in the herbs right before serving.

Last modified on Mon 7 April 2014 10:05 am

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Cathleen says:

    I too always had problems (time wise) with reductions. Always takes longer than specified in a recipe. Your post reads, to let the liquid (simmer?) for several hours till reduced. Yet the recipe says the cook time is only 15 minutes. I’m confused.

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Cathleen, I was trying to describe, and not to well as I can see, the difference between a simple reduction which can take hours and a reduction sauce that typically takes 15 minutes or less. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Leave a Reply

Culinary Schools

Ice Cream Sundays

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe On a recent trip to State College, PA, my wife stopped at Tait Farms to pick up some local products including a Strawberry Dark Chocolate Sauce that my daughter thought would be a great ingredient to try in a new gelato or ice cream. I also had some Dark […]

August 13, 2014 0 Comments
Chocolate Trail Mix Ice Cream

Chocolate Trail Mix Ice Cream

How About Some Chocolate Ice Cream with a Bit of Trail Mix While I was down in the basement working out, I heard my youngest daughter upstairs in the kitchen preparing something.  My daughter has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around so I could hear the wheels rolling back and forth as […]

July 25, 2014 5 Comments
Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

 We Used Starbucks Hot Chocolate Mix For This One Maddie and I were thinking about making some homemade ice cream and since chocolate is her favorite, we thought we would give that a try. I looked in the recipe book that came with my new Cuisinart Ice Cream Gelato Maker and found a basic recipe […]

July 10, 2014 0 Comments
Strawberry Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Gelato Recipe

Fresh Seasonal Strawberries Make For Great Gelato By now you know I am the proud owner of a Cuisinart Commercial Quality Ice Cream & Gelato Maker given to me by my neighbors Bob and Barbara for my recent birthday and I’ve been experimenting with it to learn how to make great homemade ice cream and […]

June 29, 2014 0 Comments
Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato

Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato

What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream & Gelato I celebrated a big birthday at the beginning of the month and my wife invited some friends over including my neighbor who gave me a Cuisinart Commercial Quality Ice Cream & Gelato Maker (ICE-100) as a birthday present.  This past weekend, my youngest daughter and I put […]

June 20, 2014 5 Comments

Reluctant Gourmet’s Top Tip Lists

Check Out My RG Cooking Cartoons