Sunday, June 30, 2013
I made the game sauce to go with pheasant cacciatori, which I served on Saturday to our old friends, Rich and Mary Alice and their two daughters. Ellen, the youngest one, is our goddaughter. We haven't done much over the years for her spiritual development, so I thought the least we could do was invite her and her parents to dinner to celebrate her graduation from college.
If you look at the ingredient list for game sauce, you will soon realize how it could not possibly fail. It starts out with half a cup of butter, an ingredient sure to insure success in any recipe and moves on to six onions, orange juice, current jelly and a riotous assortment of booze.
I was smart and started it around three o'clock. The whole process of cooking the onions in the butter "until transparent and tender" and then simmering the jelly and the orange juice so it "partially caramelizes" is a time consuming one. It took at least an hour. I kept cooking and tasting and moaning in delight. First the buttery sweetness of the onions, then the flavor burst of the orange juice, and finally, sherry, cassis and cognac. Heaven!!
You could just eat this stuff with a spoon. It doesn't have to be served with game. (If you have images of yourself stalking a pheasant or a deer through the streets of Manhattan, fear not. You can buy virtually anything on the Internet.) Game sauce would be good over chicken or turkey, or just a piece of bread.
Please note that the recipe requires Duff Gordon amontillado sherry. This is not cheap kitchen sherry. If you have never had sherry, get a bottle and put it away for the fall. When the weather gets cool, pour yourself a glass, straight, and sip it before dinner. A feeling of calm and civilization will slide over you, as if you were suddenly transported to the drawing rooms of Mayfair. Cassis, on the other hand, is a hot weather drink, or more correctly a hot weather additive. Put about 2 tablespoons of cassis into a cold glass of white wine, and you have a kir. Add it to a glass of champagne, and you have a kir royale. If good sherry transports you to Mayfair, kirs will transport you to the sidewalk cafes of Monmartre. It's all good. As far as the cognac goes, I just buy the cheap stuff in little bottles.
While making this, I discovered something I didn't know before. My candy thermometer is Celsius, not Fahrenheit. I can do the conversion, but not in my head (it involves multiplying fractions) so I just kind of winged it. Even though the directions for candy are extremely precise, winging it seemed to work with the candied orange peel.
6 large onions, cut into eighths
1/2 cup butter
2 juice oranges
1 eight ounce jar black current jelly (I bought red. I don't think it matters.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 navel oranges
1 cup sugar
1 cup Duff Gordon amontillado sherry
1 jigger cassis
1 jigger cognac or Armagnac
drippings from roasting game or stock
1. In a heavy casserole or pan, sauté the onions in the butter until transparent and tender. Squeeze the juice oranges and add the juice to the casserole. Add the jelly and salt. Cook slowly, so that the sugar in the jelly does not burn, until the sauce is brown, partially caramelized.
2. Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler, peel the navel oranges so that only the orange-colored park is removed. Cut the strips into tiny slivers about one and one-half inches long and one-sixteenth inch wide.
3 Place in a small pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and boil ten minutes Drain and discard water.
4. Dissolve the sugar in one-third cup water. Boil in another small pan until syrup registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the rained peel Let stand at least thirty minutes.
5. Remove the browned sauce from the heat and stir in the sherry, cassis and candied orange slivers. Just before serving, stir in the cognac and drippings.
Makes about two and a half cups.