Brooks (brooksmoses) wrote,

Experiments in reduced sauces.

In the last couple of days, I've been playing with a new-to-me cooking technique of reducing things to make sauces, and have been quite pleasantly surprised by the results -- and how easy it is to get something that tastes quite remarkable without a lot of effort.

Tuesday, we had some shrimp (on sale at the regular grocery, so not really the greatest for flavor), and suzanne suggested serving them over pasta. The problem was: what sort of sauce to use with them, since I didn't really have very much for ingredients of the sort I usually make cream sauces out of. In particular, the only cream we had was some leftover whipped cream from a pie a few days ago, which I probably could have made do with except that it had been sweetened. So I looked at what we did have, and ended up cooking a bit of crushed garlic in butter, and adding a single-serving bottle of white wine and a generous dash of lemon juice, and then simmering that for about ten minutes while the pasta and shrimp were cooking. The result was a reasonably good sauce -- it had thickened enough to stick to the pasta and shrimp, and had a good flavor though I think I added a bit much lemon.

So, last night we still hadn't gone back to the grocery and thus were left to do a "make do" dinner....
2 frozen skinless chicken breasts, thawed and cut up
1/2 green bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
1T olive oil
1 5-oz can of tomato sauce
1.5 cups leftover chicken stock, frozen
5-6 oz linguini
I started out by putting the frozen leftover chicken stock in a saucepan on medium-high heat, and when that had thawed and started boiling, I added the tomato sauce, and turned that down to a very low heat once it had reduced to maybe half its volume (6-8 minutes or so). Meanwhile, I started the linguini cooking, and suzanne chopped the onion and pepper and chicken. Those got sauteed, sequentially, in a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan, and added to the sauce as they were done.

This ended up startlingly good. The sauce was quite thick; a good fraction of the volume was made up of the onion and pepper even before I added the chicken. And despite the fact that the chicken breasts were pretty low-fat and added late in the process, and the broth was non-fat, the resulting sauce had the sort of silky-thick texture that normally would only come from vast amounts of heavy cream or chicken fat or butter or something like that. Unlike many of my sauces, it coated the pasta quite nicely rather than running off, and so was very effective despite there not being a lot of it.

I think I shall have to keep experimenting with this....


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