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Bordelaise sauce is a popular French preparation frequently added to meats and other savory preparations. Named for the wine-producing region of Bordeaux, France, this hearty sauce typically involves a base of wine and broth. Bordelaise sauce is a common feature on French-inspired menus world wide, and can add sophisticated flavor to a wide variety of dishes.
A basic bordelaise sauce has only a few ingredients that are carefully simmered and reduced. Slightly sharp shallots, fragrant thyme and bay, rich butter, bone marrow, beef broth, and even earthy mushrooms are the basic ingredients found in many versions of the sauce. Learning to make a bordelaise is not a difficult process; once a basic recipe is mastered a chef can quickly learn to create variations that draw from his or her own style of cooking.
To make a basic bordelaise sauce, combine finely chopped shallots and spices in wine over medium to high heat, allowing the mixture to boil and begin to reduce. Reduction allows flavors to meld and strengthen, creating a potent base. To this mixture, it is possible to add broth or demi-glace, a rich and strong mixture of marrow and broth that can be homemade or purchased already prepared. Whisk in butter and season to taste before pouring over or around the main dish.
There are thousands of different recipes available for this savory sauce. Considered a basic French dish, bordelaise is subject to endless variations both in terms of the sauce recipe itself and the main ingredient the sauce is used to complete. Filet Mignon or other steaks are commonly pared with this sauce, but some use it to spice up mashed potatoes or flavor portobello mushrooms as well.
Other variations on ingredients include different spices and additional vegetables added to the sauce stock. Some recipes call for parsley, while others go for a spicier version using allspice. Carrots, tomatoes, and other variations may be boiled with the wine and removed or pureed before serving. As with many great recipes, only experimentation will help a chef find his or her own favorite version.
The wine used in a bordelaise sauce is particularly important to the finished product. Many food experts recommend using a dry red that will impart its best flavors when reduced into the thick sauce. Traditionally, a French wine is used, particularly a dry version from the Bordeaux region for which the sauce is named. A dry zinfandel or pinot noir, regardless of national origin, can also be an excellent choice.