When it comes to rich sauces, very few can beat a well-made peppercorn sauce. Whether it’s as an accompaniment to your steak, or a delicious dip for your chips, it is a wonderful addition to any meal. Known in French as Sauce au Poivre, it is quick and easy to prepare.
How to make peppercorn sauce
This recipe from Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen can be prepared in advance and reheated just before serving.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 35g butter
- 35g plain flour
- 200ml milk – this recipe uses skimmed but any will work fine
- 100ml chicken stock (or 1/2 chicken stock cube with 100ml water)
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 15g (4 teaspoons) black peppercorns – vary this according to how strong you want the sauce to be
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Crack the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar – if you don’t own one, you can put them in a ziplock plastic bag, wrap in a tea towel and bash a few times with a rolling pin.
You want to ensure the peppercorns are cracked, but not over-ground otherwise the sauce will lose its intense peppery flavour.
Next, in a small saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat. Once the butter is fully melted, gradually add the flour.
After each addition mix well to ensure it is fully combined with the butter.
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Once all the four is added you should be left with a thick, smooth paste.
Cook the butter and flour mix for a couple of minutes while stirring regularly.
Cooking the butter and flour mix for a couple of minutes before adding the other ingredients ensures that the flour is cooked through.
This step is vital, and if you miss it you may be left with an odd floury taste to the sauce.
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Next, add the brandy and mix well to combine with the butter and flour – adding the brandy at this stage ensures that the alcohol is cooked off.
Gradually add the milk, mixing well after each addition to combine with the butter and flour.
Once all the milk is combined, add the chicken stock and black peppercorns and season with salt. Simmer gently until the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency.
If you are making the sauce in advance
Once the sauce has cooked, pour the mixture into a jug or bowl and immediately cover with clingfilm.
It is important to push the clingfilm into the dish so that it comes into contact with the top of the sauce, which will prevent a skin forming.
Just before serving, pour the mixture back into a saucepan and heat gently until warm throughout.
The recipe says: “This sauce can be prepared in advance and then reheated just before serving. This sauce is suitable for freezing, simply store it in an airtight container until you want to use it.
“It will separate a little in the freezer but you will find it will come back to its original consistency as it is heated. It will thicken as it reheats so you will need to add some extra milk to get it back to its original thickness.”
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