Use Booze: A Port Reduction to Adult-It-Up
My little J is not interested in sauces:
- He does not want any liquid to touch his food (except maple syrup, which he will use to drench anything, even broccoli!).
- He does not like dips (unless he’s dipping his fingers in ketchup and then putting them in his mouth for a suck).
- Any kind of stew or braise gets a full-body pout and the request, ‘Wash my food off please, Mommy.”
I therefore don’t worry about putting a tiny bit of wine into our stews and sauces. Most of the alcohol will boil away and what’s left is unlikely to get near J’s mouth.
What I avoid feeding him are the intensely boozy sauces (not that he would ever seriously consider sampling them anyways).
The good news: These don’t ever touch his food because they’re made separately from the rest of the meal.
The better news: That leaves more for us!
Follow this great guide to making quick and/or classic pan sauces from The Reluctant Gourmet. Or, try my “recipe” below for an easy port reduction.
Serves 4 as a sauce
It’s a bit like reduced balsamic vinegar but sweeter, richer, deeper and less acidic. Try a little smear on your plate under some roasted chicken or drizzle a bit over a blue-cheese-topped steak. Speaking of cheese, a tiny bit of this sauce brushed inside a grilled cheese sandwich (cheese: a combo of blue and brie) is nearly as good as mixing a bit with walnut oil on a plate and serving it as a dip for crusty bread served with chunks of cheese. (OMG! I just imagined a grilled cheese sandwich with walnut oil as the fat on the outside and this port sauce on the inside. I feel another post brewing!)
- 1 cup ruby port
Measure the port into a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Swirl in between answering “whys” and saying “Stop that! You might hurt yourself” for 10-15 minutes, until about 1/4 cup remains. Use immediately as a sauce or drizzle or allow it to cool in the pan where it will thicken a bit more. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
For the chicken pictured way up top and down below: The skin of each thigh was brushed lightly with the port reduction before roasting at 400ºF for 40 minutes, or until skin is between the color of a pine cone and a piece of bitter chocolate and the flesh is no longer pink inside.
Check out the other posts in my Series: Kid-Friendly Fare with Adult-Friendly Flare:
- When Kid-Friendly Fare Needs Adult Friendly Flare
- Gremolata: Green stuff the kids might not like, but that’s o.k.
- How to Have Your Mushrooms and Eat Them Too