Utah Style and Design

This Season’s Sauce: Gastrique Guide

September 24, 2019

Can you say gastrique? The neo-French sauce is livening up dishes and drinks throughout Utah, and this season, it’s at its all-time, fruit-forward best. 

Currently, chefs are enamored of gastriques. You see the word on all kinds of menus, describing all kinds of dishes. So what is a gastrique, why do chefs like it so much and how do you make them at home? We have all the answers.

What is a gastrique?

Basically, it’s a sauce made of caramelized sugar and vinegar—a lot like the Italian agrodolce—a sweet and sour mixture that adds a bright complexity to simple dishes, but gastriques are often infused with fruit which gives them a seasonal freshness. It’s the perfect finish to the simple grilled meats you’ll be cooking this summer. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, then use it to jazz up a simple patio menu. Especially good on roasted or grilled meats or poultry, gastriques are also good for substantial vegetables, roasted squash, Brussels sprouts or roasted red cabbage. Note: This is a sauce to drizzle on your food—don’t drench it.

How do you make a gastrique?

There are several methods—all based on that balance of sweet and sour. The fundamental steps are caramelizing or browning the sugar until it gets a bitter tinge, then stirring in vinegar. Here are two to try:

Method 1: 

  1. Melt two tablespoons butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add a shallot, peeled and minced fine, and saute until soft.
  3. Add in two cups of fruit—whole berries or peeled and chopped stone fruit, two tablespoons sugar, three tablespoons wine or cognac and three tablespoons vinegar—wine, rice, apple cider vinegar, whatever you choose. Try balsamic vinegar if you want depth and a little more sweetness.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until the fruit is tender, almost mushy.
  5. Strain the fruit mixture to remove any tiny seeds or bits of skin and then puree it in a food processor. If you want a clearer sauce, strain out all the fruit and skip the processing. Either way, your sauce will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks and can be frozen.

Method 2: 

  1. Carefully melt one-half cup sugar in a saucepan and let it caramelize to a medium brown.
  2. Remove from heat and add one-half cup vinegar.
  3. Continue to cook until it’s smooth and viscous.
  4. Add two-thirds cup berries or chopped fruit and any other flavorings or herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, chile) and cook until fruit breaks down.
  5. Let it cool down a bit, then puree and strain.

Perfect Pairings 

Generally, gastrique is best used with fatty foods (the acidic
sweetness cuts the greasiness) or game.

• Grilled pork tenderloin with peach gastrique. Garnish with halved grilled peaches.

• Lamb chops with cherry gastrique. Use a port wine and swish a sprig of rosemary into the gastrique before you blend or strain it. Garnish with rosemary or dried cherries.

• Roasted chicken with Meyer lemon gastrique. Substitute the juice of two lemons instead of chopped fruit.

• Grilled salmon with orange gastrique. Use orange juice for the chopped fruit.

• Charred radicchio heads with cherry gastrique.

• Blue cheese drizzled with grape or cherry gastrique for a last course.

Mary Brown Malouf

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