Let’s be honest, sometimes we get a little sick of putting ketchup on everything, right? I mean, it’s the perfect combination of salty, processed sugar, and funny sounds when you squeeze it out but sometimes you want to impress someone with something that hasn’t been sitting in your fridge since the Carter Administration.
I love making a nice reduction and my favorite is a tried and true balsamic. A good high quality balsamic vinegar is a beautiful thing that doesn't need any help being the star of your dinner. A little oil and some bread is all you need to enjoy that tangy flavor developed from quality ingredients aged to perfection. It works even better as a reduction, slowly evaporated of water until you have a thick glaze and the flavor is intensely concentrated.
The key is to start with a high intense boil and back the heat off when you have evaporated about half the liquid. It should take less heat to keep it bubbling as it thickens.
At this point begin stirring and watch your sauce carefully, it has a tendency to scorch and ruin all your hard work. As the bubbles get bigger indicating the water content is getting very low, back the heat off even more and continue stirring.
When you are reduced down to about a third of your original liquid and the consistency is thick enough to stick to a spoon you want to pull it off the heat and transfer it to a container to cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools, leaving you with a thick glaze.
If you have a high quality bottle of balsamic vinegar, that’s all you have to do. Unfortunately, the bottle I have in my pantry is just shy of rubbing alcohol with food coloring so it needs all the help it can get.
Luckily, you can dump any number of flavorings into your sauce (figs, anyone?) and come up with something intense and delicious to top your dinner with.
My personal favorite is something I came up with on Valentine's Day a few years ago and even though the girl broke up with me shortly after, I still don’t blame it on the sauce. Here’s the recipe for my Raspberry Balsamic Reduction. It goes great on salad or chicken but my favorite way to have it is on pork chops and grilled vegetables.
Raspberry Balsamic Reduction
1 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Pint Raspberries
2 sprigs Rosemary
2 Tablespoons Sugar
Bring balsamic to a rapid boil and reduce by half. Add raspberries and stir until they are broken down. Add rosemary and bring to a low simmer for about 10 mins. Using a fine mesh strainer remove all seeds and rosemary from liquid. Add sugar and bring liquid back to a low boil and stir until you reach the desired thickness.
If you prefer to let someone else do the work for you, The Chopping Block carries a balsamic vinegar reduction which is a staff favorite. It's our go-to garnish for our popular Bacon Wrapped Dates appetizer, kicks up coleslaw and even goes great drizzled on ice cream. Stop in to taste our Cream of Balsamic anytime, or use my method above to DIY!