Port Wine Reduction Sauce

by Julie Cohn

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Sometimes you come across a simple little recipe that can transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary.  This Port Wine Reduction Sauce is one of those recipes.  The ingredients are typically found in most kitchens, but when blended together, then slowly simmered, they become an ambrosia that turns any cut of meat into a gourmet meal.

Port Wine Reduction Sauce

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c. Finely Chopped Onion
  • 2-3 Shallots, Peeled and Finely chopped
  • 2-3 Carrots, Finely Chopped
  • 4 c. Ruby Port (You do not have to use the expensive stuff
  • 2 c. Hearty Dry Red Wine (Cabernet or Syrah will give the most flavor)
  • 1-2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 c. Beef or Veal Broth (Homemade is preferred, or use the good stuff with lots of flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cognac or Brandy
  • 3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Port Wine Reduction 4Pour the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot and place on the stove top on medium high heat.  Add the onions, shallots, and carrot and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until the onion is opaque.  Add the port, red wine, and beef broth (veal broth will give it a heartier taste), bay leaves, and rosemary and heat to boil.

Port Wine Reduction 5

When it boils, reduce heat to medium high and simmer on medium-low for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  The liquid should be slightly bubbling but not a rolling bubble.

Port Wine Reduction 6

When the liquid is reduced about 1/3, strain out the vegetables with a fine sieve, then place the remaining liquid back into the stock pot.  Heat the liquid on medium-high so you have a nice simmer going, then add the cognac and stir.  Simmer 5-6 minutes, then add the butter and simmer another 2-3 minutes, stirring the melting butter into the thick liquid.

Port Wine Reduction 2

Remove from heat and let sit 4-5 minutes.  You should be left with a thick silky sauce which can be easily drizzled over steak, prime rib, or pork tenderloin.  Be careful though….even though the alcohol has all been boiled away, this sauce is addictive!

Roasted Garlic Version

Many recipes include garlic with the onion, shallot, and carrot, but I think it gives the sauce a bitter taste.  If you really want to include garlic, roast the garlic wedges (in their peel) in the oven for 5-7 minutes first, then scoop out the sweet roasted garlic meat and blend into the sautéed onion, shallot, and carrot.  Roasted garlic will give it a more gentle garlic taste.

Pancetta Version

For an even richer flavor, sauté small chunks of pancetta with the onions, shallots, and carrots before simmering in the wine!

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