Winter salads are often more bitter or hardy than their summer counterparts. We lack the natural sweetness of berries, a lot of sweet fruit, tomatoes, light greens and other bright summer flavors. We’re left with dense offerings such as carrots, onions, kale, mache, and other bitter greens. This is a simple technique that combines vinegar, sugar and fruit preserves to create a sweet-and-sour dressing that is also fat-free (though I’m a proponent of fat). We used part of a jar of preserves that were recently given to us to make the quince jelly gastrique.
A gastrique is a simple sauce that’s a staple of many restaurants and less common in home cooking. It’s easy to make: combine sugar and vinegar (often without measuring) and reduce over heat.The sauce thickens into a syrup and, if it’s cooked too long, can even develop into a caramel (which can be thinned out with more vinegar). They are often used in small quantities to complete a dish and often used with meats or to add to other sauces.
Last nights salad dressing was a gastrique that was combined with quince jelly. There’s no need for oil – it’s sweet and sour and was a great balance with our winter salad. Recipe will follow the process pictures:
Quince Jelly Gastrique Ingredients
- 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons quince jelly
Quince Jelly Gastrique Directions
- Combine the sugar and vinegar in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (I start high and then back it off).
- At first it will boil much like water would; sporadic bubbles covering the surface. You will find that the bubbles will change and cover the entire surface (this is the sign that your sauce is thickening).
- Stir often and almost constantly; this will help prevent burning. Reduce the sauce by half.
- Add a tablespoon of jelly and stir to incorporate. This is easiest when it’s hot. Once the jelly has fully melted, cooking is done.
- Carefully pour the jelly into a bowl and allow to cool. Stir every few minutes to see how thick it’s become. If it’s become a caramel (i.e. strings attach to the spoon when you remove it), add more vinegar and stir to thin it out.
- Once cool, taste your sauce. If it’s too thin, continue to add more vinegar. If it’s too tart, add more jelly.
Do you use gastriques now? If so, what do you use them for? If not, will you try one now?