You want to get my attention you just need to use words like; caramelize, reduce and red wine. Instantly my eyes dilate and my ears twitch with anticipation. So a month ago when I was doing some online research and I stumbled upon this cookbook called "The Preservation Kitchen" I knew I was hooked the instant I read the word Aigre-Doux. These recipes had all of those words and MORE! There were even jam recipes where you 'smoke' the apples before you make the jam. 'Smoked' is another word that can grab my attention in case you were wondering why I put it in quotations. I needed to know more. I am not ashamed to admit that I had never heard this term before, so I did a little research. The definition I came across was this: The French term for the combined flavors of sour (aigre ) and sweet (doux ). An aigre-doux sauce might contain both vinegar and sugar.
Paul Virant describes Aigre-Doux in the cookbook as preserves for cheese snobs and wine geeks. Now I can't go so far as to describe myself with either of those terms. I fall into the category of a cheese lover and perhaps I aspire to be a wine geek. But it was close enough for me. I loved the idea that an aigre-doux could be turned into a vinaigrette, a pan sauce, a condiment or a glaze. As someone who always makes her own salad dressing, flavours her own vinegars and loves a good glaze, Aigre-Doux felt like a challenge I had to face.
I happened to mention that it was a book that I wanted on twitter or perhaps even here on my blog. Well last week, my amazing cousin Nadine sent it to me as a belated birthday present. For the first 2 nights after it arrived, when I would get home from work I would curl up with it, sitting on my couch or a chair and flip through it reading all the delicious titles of recipes. I knew that it wouldn't be long before I would have to attempt one of the recipes and there was one in particular that stood out - Mandarin Aigre Doux.
Now I can't share the recipe online, but there is one of Paul's Blueberry Aigre-Doux recipes here if you love the idea of it as much as me and want to try making it on your own.
What I can tell you is that there are juicy mandarins; peeled and sliced, with an entire bottle of red wine, some red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and black peppercorns combined in these 500ml jars and they look almost too good to be true. He suggests using it as a glaze for roasted duck, or whisking the pureed contents with a knob of butter and drizzling over scallops (helloooo!) and I intend to do as he tells me.
The recipe made 4 - 500ml jars and my friend Barbara Best is going to be a recipient of one of these jars cause she is having me over for dinner next Friday! Lucky her, eh?