Diane, A Broad
October 1, 2012

Back to Basics: Balsamic Reduction

I know we’ve talked about the process for balsamic reduction before, but I thought it was worth its own post. Now that I’ve had a big bottle of it at home for a while, I find myself reaching for it nearly every day — to drizzle on fruit, rub on roasts, or glaze vegetables.

The fact is, you aren’t going to use your best balsamic for everything. The really good balsamic vinegars have that spoon-coating thickness and deep richness from years of aging and slow evaporation in successively smaller barrels, and come with a price tag that matches the love and care put into each tiny bottle. It’s absolutely worth having a bottle of the good stuff around for special occasions, but it’s nice to have a thickened everyday balsamic for, well, everyday uses.

Process

  1. Start with a good amount of decent-quality balsamic vinegar. I usually do at least two cups at a time.
  2. Pour the balsamic into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar or honey if desired.
  3. Bring the vinegar to a boil. Adjust the heat so it stays at a strong simmer and reduce until the volume of the balsamic is reduced to 1/2 to 1/4 of the original volume, depending on your purpose. Remember that it will thicken a bit more as it cools.
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Uses

  • Dress caprese salads and other tomato dishes.
  • Mix into a stick rub for meats.
  • Use straight in a strong vinaigrette.
  • Mix with an equal amount of water whenever a recipe calls for regular balsamic vinegar.
  • Mix into marscapone cheese and layer with cakes and fruit for an unexpected parfait.
  • Add a dash to soup to brighten the flavor.
  • Grill some hearty greens like kale, endive, or radicchio and drizzle with reduction for a hearty, flavorful vegetarian side.
  • Mix into braising liquids for any vegetable or meat.
  • Coat root vegetables in a good glug before roasting with herbs and olive oil.
  • Serve with cheese and charcuterie plates.
  • Drizzle over fresh strawberries or other fruits.

Music to cook by: Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BMV 1007: Prélude [Yo-Yo Ma // Inspired by Bach: The Cello Suites]

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  • http://kevinmeyersphotography.com kevin meyers photography

    Ahhh… balsamic. A good balsamic vinegar is one of life’s true pleasures. I go through frightening amounts of it.