Wee Heavy Mint Gastrique
Looking for something to zazz up your grill night? Maybe you've got almost everything perfect, but you just need a little something to put the meal over the top? Leave it to the French to have already come up with a perfect solution for you: the gastrique! Well, okay... we can't give them all the credit, many cuisines have versions of a sweet and acidic sauce to liven up food. For instance, in Italy they have an agrodolce, which literally translates to sour and sweet.
A gastrique is one of the simplest versions of a sweet-and-sour sauce, and couldn't be easier to make. Once you have the basic concept down, there are any number of combinations you can create. All you need is vinegar, sugar, and something to infuse them with. The classic orange sauce from duck a l'orange is an example of a gastrique.
And that's exactly how you can use most any gastrique... as a great finishing sauce for your favorite meat. Where it really shines, though, is with richer meats like lamb or duck since it cuts through some of that richness and enhances the flavor. Drizzle some of this over the top and shazam! You are now head chef at a 4-star restaurant - in the eyes of your guests, anyway. So here's how you do it:
5 oz. Wee Heavy Alegar
1/4 c. sugar (use some good cane sugar!)
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh mint
A couple of extra sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
Put all of the ingredients (except for the extra mint garnish) in a small saucepan and bring it to a steady simmer. Simmer until its volume has reduced by about half about 10 to 15 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the sauce coats the back of a spoon and drips slowly. Remove from heat and drizzle the sauce over your cut of meat, topping with a sprig or two of fresh mint.
It's that simple! Now that you know the basics of the sauce, your challenge is to create different gastriques for the dishes you're creating.
The Old-Time Vinegar Company has six different vinegars to choose from, and you could go with different sweeteners like brown sugar or honey and an endless amount of infusers like fruits or alliums like garlic and shallots.
Enjoy, and let me know what combinations you come up with. I think next, I'll try our Coffee Blues Beer Vinegar with sugar and blueberries. Your turn to get creative!