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Reducing?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello

I understand that you reduce sauces to concentrate the flavours. But I am a bit confused why you do it on some sauces. e.g. I made a white wine sauce the other day. I've not been in the kitchen for that long so it is a bit new to me. I put some shallots and garlic sautéed them of and then added some wine to the pan. At that stage my head chef asked me to reduce it by half before I added the cream. What was the point in that as at the only flavours in the pan at the time were the shallots and garlic? Why couldn't I just add less wine and then add the cream? How did doing it that way improve the flavour?

I'm just interested in the reasons for doing it as obviously understanding the reasons makes you a better chef and helps you understand food more.

post #2 of 13
I cant speak for other chefs but Ill tell you my my thoughts. Balance, you sauteed the garlic and shallots them added white wine, reduced by half and finished with creme. if you had just added half the wine and not reduced, thus concentrating then flavor before finishing the sauce then the flqvor wouåd have been out of balance. reduction concentrates the flavor and brings the viscosity into play.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I thought it probably was that. So it was to bring the flavour out of the garlic and onion and make it more balanced and taste better?

post #4 of 13
It was also done to not thin out the cream, most applications you reduce "Au Sec" or until almost nothing is left which will do multiple things, concentrate flavors, allow you to reduce to thicken because you haven't thinned out the cream, Demi, stock, etc. You are also cooking the wine as well to take the edge off which will assist in not curdling your cream.
post #5 of 13

I love this question. It's the kind of thing that I think a lot about when cooking. 

As I understand it, reducing the wine removes the water content of the wine, thus concentrating the flavor. 

     Think of this process as if the flavor were molecules you could see, floating in a cup of water. The cup of wine holds just so many flavor molecules and a bunch of water. If you add stock ( more water with more flavor molecules) and/or cream (more liquid with flavor molecules) without reducing, the combined liquids add up but the flavor molecules remain the same. 

     By reducing before each addition, the flavor molecules of the wine, stock and cream are floating in a lot less water, thus a more intense flavor experience. 

Not reducing each addition means more liquid (sauce), not more flavor. 

There may be other chemical changes taking place but that's the way I understand it. 

     For me, this illustrates the importance of those simple but necessary steps chefs take when cooking that are often overlooked. The chef's sauce-remarkable. Your sauce at home-good but not great. Why?  Because the chef reduced the wine before adding the stock or cream. 

      Many of these techniques are discussed in various areas of this forum. Making sure a steak is at room temp and has a dry exterior before searing is another. Nothing complicated or mysterious. Do them and you end up with great results. Don't do them and you still have food to eat, just not as good as that fancy restaurant meal. 


Edited by chefwriter - 1/29/15 at 10:24am
post #6 of 13

Braising Cows is spot on. It's to reduce the water content, remove the edge from the white wine, coax the flavours out of the shallots and garlic etc.

post #7 of 13

i find if the wine is not reduced or cooked out the cream will seperate from the acid in the wine.

post #8 of 13

@kostendorf actually the total amount of acid before and after reduction remains the same, since acids are not volatile, and, to a certain extent, the acid remaining after reducing will actually be more concentrated and would affect the cream if that was the reason.

Acid from wine would not curdle the cream but residual alcohol will (particularly if heated).  If (too much) alcohol remains in the sauce, the cream will curdle.

 

Reducing removes water, alcohol and highly volatile aromatic compounds (like fruity note from the wine).  What remains are acids, sugars, rich caramelized and heavy aromatic compounds from the wine. Adding a liquid (wine) also prevents scorching by reducing the temperature of the pan and dissolving stuck residues as you all know.

This combination affect increases the richness of the finish sauce and also prevents the cream from curdling when added.

 

Luc H.

I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #9 of 13

There are many reasons so that all of the above are correct.

  1 is alcohol tends to thin any sought of sauce, so by cooking you cook out the alcohol content.

2.For a more intense flavor.

3. So as all flavors combine evenly distributed  in the sauce.

4. To give body and thicken the sauce and to prevent separation between the cream and the naturally formed food acids

5. To remove any water.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 13
Alcohol doea not reduce immediately either, another commonly held myth, see here http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/659/cooking-away-alcohol
post #11 of 13


Alcohol does not reduce, the heat burns it out.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 13
yeah. over time. Lots of time. Check out the link! References to usda studies etc.
post #13 of 13

I noticed that the chart lists most cases where the alcohol is stirred into other things first, with the exception of flambeing which doesn't then take into account further reduction.  While taking the step of reducing the wine first, before adding the cream, the majority of the alcohol will be removed, especically if done at a rapid boil.  That isn't to say that there is not an residual alcohol left, but through proper sauce making techniques the amount of alcohol is significantly reduced to very low levels.  That is a very different matter than stirring wine into your sauce and then reducing it to remove the alcohol.

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