DonQui loves his sauces and also loves making them from scratch.
There can surely be few things more glorious than a Sunday roast but all too often the gravy can let it down, especially if most of it comes out of a packet. Simply deglazing the roasting pan with wine will produce a wonderful sauce but there will rarely be enough of it. DonQui’s trick is to prepare a luscious base in advance and then add the pan juices after the meat is done.
It does take time but DonQui is of no doubt that the effort is well worth it.
1 onion, chopped
brown sugar (about a level desert spoonful)
500 ml unsalted stock, ideally from the meat you will be having it with. So if you are having roast lamb use lamb stock. Beef stock for beef or venison; and chicken stock for pork.
a few stalks of fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried
1 bay leaf
1 table spoon flour
a squeeze of tomato purée (or tomato paste in American English)
mushroom skins and stalks or the liquid from soaking dried mushrooms (optional but adds to richness and colour)
a splash of port wine (optional but adds further richness and a touch of sweetness)
1 teaspoon of redcurrant jelly (to accompany lamb or venison but not recommended for beef)
In a heavy bottomed pot fry the chopped onion in oil and butter mix until very well browned but not burned. (Note: mixing oil with butter helps prevent the butter from burning, this is good to know for other things where you want the taste of butter without scorching)
Sprinkle in the sugar and continue cooking on medium heat until deeply browned and smells like burning.
Deglaze with a good splash of red wine and stir with wooden spoon to get up all the burnt bits
Add stock. It is best to use unsalted liquid stock as stock cubes are too heavily salted for DonQui’s taste.
Add pepper, thyme, bay leaf and the mushroom bits or mushroom liquid. DonQui only uses the mushroom if he has some left over.
Bring to the boil then simmer very gently without a lid until reduced and flavours blend (around 15-20 mins)
Strain liquid and reserve.
In same pot melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add the same amount of flour. Mix so it forms a crumbly paste.
Cook over low heat until a deep brown colour. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until you get a nutty burnt smell (about 10 mins) Do not be afraid of cooking too long – the darker it is the richer the taste.
Whisk in the reserved liquid and bring up to the boil with a splash of port. Add a squeeze of tomato purée and salt to taste. Add more pepper to taste.
If he is cooking lamb or venison DonQui also adds a teaspoon of redcurrant jelly.
The sauce base may be used immediately, combined with pan juices from a roast or steak, or kept and frozen for later use.