If you have been watching MasterChef, then you may have come across the term ‘reduction’ very often. It is one of the most basic processes that are used in creating delicious sauces for almost anything that you want to create. So irrespective of whether you are creating a barbecue sauce at home, or one that you want to pour on the poached chicken or grilled steak or even the vanilla cake that you have made, you need to know how to be able to reduce a sauce perfectly to get the uniform, smooth and perfect flavor. Here are some tips that will help you in reducing your sauces perfectly.
- The first thing that you need to understand about reducing is that the process involves evaporation of the liquid in the sauce so that it becomes thicker. This means that the flavor of the sauce becomes more intense based on the amount of time that you let the liquid evaporate.
- It is important for you to understand that the heat at which you allow the evaporation to occur should not be too high. This is because if the liquid is evaporating at a very high temperature, there is a danger of the seasonings in the sauce to get burnt. So always ensure that the reduction happens at a medium to high temperature and never too high.
- Proper reduction will require you to test the sauce intermittently to understand the amount of saltiness and flavor that you have achieved. This is extremely important even if you are following a recipe to the last detail. The best way in ensuring that the sauce is neither too thick nor too watery is to take a spoon and pour some sauce back into the pot. You will be able to judge the consistency based on the speed at which it drops.
- The reduction technique can work with a variety of liquids. So when you are making the sauce, you can have a base of milk, water, broth, butter, puree and more. The whole idea is just to get creative with the cooking process and see what you get.
- While reduction as a process is mainly used in making sauces, it is also used when you are making gravies, syrups, gastriques and consommes. However, the process of reduction is the same and all that you need to do it is patiently stir the mixture as the medium heat does its job.
There are some cooks that also add in a little corn flour mixed in cold water or cold milk to hurry up the process of thickening for the sauce. This however, does not qualify as a reduction technique and merely provides the thickness without really bringing out the flavor of the seasonings that you may have added. While there are some gravies and recipes that use corn flour, do not confuse them with the slow and patient process of reduction.