I’m forgetful. I have to-do lists and post-it notes everywhere — in my coat pockets, in my purse, on my desk at work — and I still managed to forget that I had promised to write about a red wine reduction. This red wine reduction, which recipe I’ve tested (and altered) too many times and am finally happy enough with it to leave it alone.
It’s a deceivingly elegant sauce that can be made with little effort!
This sauce turns out gorgeously every time and is, I think, better when made with a dry red wine that you would enjoying drinking out of the glass. If this is your first time making a red wine reduction, you should find comfort in the fact that the recipe really just provides a rough guidance. If the wine is on the acidic end, you might find yourself adding a bit more sugar. Not peppery enough? Give it a few extra grinds of black pepper.
The use of porcini mushrooms, red wine, and a touch of butter altogether creates a sauce so rich and decadent that the flavors will linger luxuriously on your tongue. Please don’t skimp on the butter! I know what you’re thinking: butter when cooking the vegetables and more butter in the end? Yes, it sounds sinful and fattening, but mounting butter in the very end actually helps to thicken the sauce and gives it a nice sheen. Butter contains a small amount of lecithin, which serves to stabilize the emulsion, so make sure you don’t substitute it with margarine or vegan alternatives.
Porcini Mushroom Red Wine Reduction
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
½ cup hot water
4 tbsps unsalted butter, divided
¼ cup shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tbsps tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, or ¼ tsp of dried thyme
1 tbsp sugar
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Soak porcini mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Set aside, reserving the liquid.
In a medium saucepan, sauté shallots, garlic, and carrots in two tablespoons of butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the shallots are lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the bits and pieces that have stuck to the pan. Stir in thyme, sugar, and porcini mushroom (with the liquid). Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the reserved two tablespoons of butter and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a saucer and keep warm until ready to serve.
*I’ve tried this recipe with Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah, and I liked them all. You don’t need to use the expensive, complex wines (as most of the subtle nuances are lost in the cooking process), but do stay away from the “cooking wines.” They contain additives like salt and reducing the wine down doesn’t help the cause much.
*You can make the sauce ahead of time. Reheat in a saucepan under low heat, stirring constantly. Adding too much heat too quickly can cause the emulsion to break and the butter fat to separate.