Looking for a new savory sauce for your arsenal, especially during the chilly late autumn/winter months? Make this apple cider-chile butter sauce and drizzle it over a fried ham steak, grilled sausages served with braised cabbage and onions, or roasted brussels sprouts.
A little of this sauce goes a long way, which is why the recipe yields only ¼ cup. It doubles easily, however, if you want to make more of it. The key is to balance the sweet, tang, salt and spicy heat. You don’t want the sauce to tip too far to the buttery, sweet-apple side or it will seem like a dessert sauce. But if you want a dessert sauce, you can have that, too, by leaving out the shallot and chile powder and adding only a pinch of salt.
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 tablespoon shallot or yellow onion, minced
- big pinch of piment d’Espelette or other mild chile powder, coarsely ground
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in one piece (plus more if needed), very cold
- In a small saucepan, combine the cider, shallot, and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Cook, stirring and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the butter and start stirring it around in circles with a whisk, a fork, a wooden spoon, or anything that lets you “stab” the hunk of butter so that you can move it around easily. The butter will start to melt and the mixture will bubble and boil around the edges. The melted butter should look creamy, rather than melted and oily. Keep stirring and blending until almost all of the butter is incorporated, then remove the pan from the heat as you work in the last bit.
- Whisk in ¼ tsp. salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or a touch more butter.
- For a perfectly smooth sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. If you are okay with the shallot, serve as is. If possible, serve right away.
Note: To keep the sauce warm, hold it in the saucepan for a few minutes. For longer keeping, transfer it to a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water (the water should be no hotter than 110°F/43°C). You can also keep the sauce in a thermos for up to 2 hours. The sauce cannot be stored in the refrigerator, as it will separate when reheated.
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