Since I am doing my best to hit my stride and get back to normal after a short blogging break, I thought it was high time to post a Something From Nothing recipe. This month's recipe is actually a little something fancy from nothing in the form of a simple sweet and sour sauce known as a gastrique.
As you can tell by the name, this sauce has its origins in France. As the name implies, this sauce very well might have been originally made as a treatment for an upset stomach, and simply caught on because of its delicious flavor and ability to perk up the flavor of bland meats and salty cheeses.
Gastriques can be made with either sugar or honey and any type of vinegar that you desire. You can also add flavors at the end like alcohol, berries, molasses (like Mediterranean pomegranate), and/or spices. It really is something fun to play around with until you find your very own favorite recipe.
Since this is a simple recipe that doesn't require a recipe, I've seen many versions in my lifetime. Some, like mine here, call for a 1:2 ratio and some a 1:1. I find that equal parts sugar/honey and vinegar makes a sauce that is just a bit too sweet for my liking, so I'm sticking with the 1 part honey to 2 parts vinegar.
1/3 cup honey*
2/3 cup vinegar (I like red wine)
Spray a measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray. Measure honey and pour into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until honey turns a rich walnut brown color.
Add vinegar to the darkened honey, being careful not to breathe in the fumes as they will be strong. At this stage, the honey/sugar will seize as the vinegar is added, but stirring and heating with break it back down to a liquid.
Stir well and return to a simmer. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until it thickens slightly. This stage is tricky because if you allow it to reduce too much, it will be stiff as it cools, not enough and it will be too thin as it cools. It might take you a couple of times to get it down, but eating the mistakes is the fun part. You can always add a couple of teaspoons water to thin it down if it gets too stiff to serve.
Makes about 2/3 cup.
*If using sugar, place it in a saucepan over medium heat and heat until it liquifies. Watching carefully, simmer until it caramelizes and proceed with the recipe as written.