This is a delicious sauce base that you can use as a kind of demi-glace or to start off any pan sauce (e.g. for steak).
I’ll be honest: this recipe is a pain. It really has to be done ahead of time: do not attempt to make this the same day you wish to use it in a sauce, unless you are starting dinner in early afternoon. But it is a seriously yummy sauce base: it can be frozen, and will allow you to produce quick pan sauces that taste like a million bucks!
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut into rough 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into rough 1/2-inch pieces
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps wipes clean and halved
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 oz 85 percent lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 packages (5 teaspoons) unflavored powdered gelatin
Process onion, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic in food processor into 1/8-inch pieces, 10 to 12 one-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering; add beef and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until any exuded moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns; bring to boil. Reduce heat and gently boil, occasionally scraping bottom and sides of pot and skimming fat from surface, until reduced to 2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan, pressing on solids with rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have about 1 cup stock). Sprinkle gelatin over stock and stir to dissolve. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring stock to boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to ½ cup, 5 to 7 minutes (ha! This will never reduce that quickly!). Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Note: for me, it took more like 45 minutes to reduce, and I finished with more like 2 cups of sauce in the end.
To make into a delicious herb sauce
- small shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional, if you have it on hand)
- 1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (maybe 1 tablespoons if you decided to skip the wine above)
Put shallot in a small saucepan and cook until fragrant. Add wine (if using) and bring to simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Add sauce base and vinegar. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in chives, parsley, tarragon, and butter; season with salt and pepper to taste.