As the reality of a harsh and cold winter starts to settle in, a glass of sweet and warming port can bring at least some sense of ease to the occasion. With the chill hitting earlier than normal here in New York this year, I turned to port to serve as what I consider my first real winter sauce.
I decided to go with the classic combo of a cherry and port that contrasts tart cherries against sweet port, with a double dose of fruit that gives a well-rounded and full-bodied flavor.
I also added a small amount of balsamic vinegar when making this reduction, as well as some shallots, both which lent their own sharpness, giving an added intensity to the final sauce.
This paired excellently with grilled peppered duck breast, where the lightly flavored meat really let the sauce stand out, but it's also hefty enough to mingle well with heavier contenders like beef or game too, and can even go as far as topping ice cream and other desserts—although you may find omitting the shallots and upping the sugar a better interpretation for use on sweets.
- 2 tablespoon butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (about 1 small)
- 1 cup ruby port
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup frozen pitted cherries, thawed and halved
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Stir in port, vinegar, cherries, and dark brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until sauce has reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
Stir in remaining tablespoons of butter; season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, reheating when ready to use.