A proper gastrique is easy to make!
A gastrique can be made slightly sweet by cooking sugar to a hard crack stage. A neutral gastrique requires sugar to be cooked to the amber stage or beyond, to the caramelized stage. A gastrique should never be sweet like a syrup.When the sugar reaches the desired stage of doneness, the fruit or flavoring is added. The sugar seizes the fruit and the sugar solidifies like candy on the fruit. Do not stir at this point, or the candied mass will stick to the spoon. Allow the sugar to pull all the flavor and color out of the fruit, before adding the liquids.
A balance of salt, pepper, spice, herb, vinegar, wine or cognac is added to the seized fruit and sugar. This combination of ingredients creates a gastrique flavor that aids digestion and it broadens the taste bud's palate in a subtle way. Vinegar is the key to balancing the flavor of a gastrique.
The strong fruit or featured flavor of a gastrique becomes boldly pronounced and it is carried along by the liquid medium to different taste sensors of the palate. It is very hard to explain in laymen's terms how a gastrique reacts with taste buds. It is much better to learn from the experience of tasting a gastrique. After making a few different gastriques, a chef can develop the ability to tailor a gastrique to create new stronger or refined taste sensations.
Gastriques refinement and development is good practice for any chef. A gastrique is a worthwhile creation for home cooks to perfect. A good gastrique can be very complex and have a very bold flavor at the same time. A well tuned gastrique can impress even the most sophisticated guest!
Pomegranate Gastrique Recipe:
This gastrique recipe makes enough for 2 servings!
Many of my gastriques are made at the hard crack sugar stage. This gastrique's sugar is cooked beyond the top of the hard crack range of 310 degrees to a medium dark amber stage. It is important to observe the sugar as it changes color from clear to hard crack to light yellow amber. This happens quickly! A few seconds later, the sugar changes from a light amber color to a darker amber color. That is the time to add the fruit!
Take caution! Hot molten sugar will cause severe burns! Do not stir a gastrique, till shortly after the liquid flavorings are added.
Boil 2 cups of water over medium high heat in a sauce pot.
Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
Prepare the pomegranate fruit, while the sugar water reduces.
Separate 1 handful of fresh pomegranate fruit from the rind and set the fruit aside. Reserve a few of the pomegranate fruit pieces for garnishing the steak later in the recipe.
When the sugar begins to turn a light amber color, stay close to the pan and watch for the sugar to turn a dark amber color. (Dark amber is a golden yellow brown color.)
When the sugar turns a dark amber color, immediately add the pomegranate fruit.
Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the fruit for 1 minute. (The sugar will stop caramelizing when you add the fruit. The hot sugar will seize the fruit and pull all of the flavor and color out of the fruit. The caramelized sugar will completely take on the flavor of the fruit!)
Add 3 tablespoons of pomegranate vinegar.
Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
Add 1/2 cup of water.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
Add 1 pinch of thyme.
Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Simmer and reduce the gastrique, till a thin glaze is formed. The glaze should be thick enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon. Keep in mind that when a gastrique cools, it may become a little bit thicker in viscosity.
Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside.
Filet Mignon with Pomegranate Gastrique Recipe:
Heat a saute pan over medium/medium high heat.
Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
Season a 5 or 6 ounce petit filet mignon steak with coarse ground black pepper and sea salt.
Add the filet mignon steak to the hot pan.
Sear both sides of the filet mignon.
Flip the steak often, so it cooks evenly.
Cook the filet mignon to your desired temperature. (I cooked the filet mignon in the pictures medium rare.)
When the filet mignon is cooked to your liking, set it on a roasting rack over a pan and let it rest for 1 minute. The excess juices will gather inside the steak or drip from the steak, instead of running on the plate.
Place the filet mignon steak on a plate.
Spoon the gastrique around the filet mignon onto the plate.
Cascade the reserved pomegranate fruit over the filet mignon as a garnish.
Serve with a vegetable and starch of your choice. (I served the file mignon in the pictures with rice that was flavored with caramelized onion and thyme. Fanned steamed, feathered snow peas were also placed on the plate.)
Pomegranate makes one of the finest tasting gastriques! This gastrique sauce is not sweet. It is slightly tart from the pomegranate fruit. The vinegar and wine add a nice balance of flavor. It does not take a vast array of herbs to create a complex gastrique flavor. The flavor of thyme is complex in its own right and thyme is a digestive aid. Part of a gastrique's nature is to aid digestion.
Gastriques are translucent and they do look beautiful on a plate. The flavor of the caramelized onion thyme rice is a great accompaniment for this entree. This preparation of filet mignon with pomegranate gastrique is well worth the effort! ... Shawna