A friend asked me, when I told her about my dinner plans a few days ago, “doesn’t sauce come in packets?” While I know she was kidding, it causes me great pain to think that people no longer know how to make sauces. Sauce is awesome; it can tip dishes in one direction or another, from French to Asian, to messy and gooey from delicately flavored.
This is, I think, the prettiest sauce I’ve cooked recently. It needs to be paired with something that won’t disappear under its flavor and heft — take a look at the ingredients; this is, to say the least, assertive — but a good piece of meaty fish or chicken is fantastic. I haven’t tried this with red meat yet, but I have every intention of it.
Agrodolce comes from the Italian — sour and sweet, and while that is an accurate description, I don’t think it captures the depth of flavor this sauce has (for virtually no effort, please note). The word sour is a great word, wonderfully onomatopoeic, but it doesn’t suffice here, because this isn’t sour, strictly speaking. I don’t know what word would suit better (and I’m perfectly happy with the dolce part of the name), but this has a grand, rounded taste that I don’t associate with sourness.
photo by galant
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet until shimmery. Sauté chopped red onion until golden and crisp-tender. Add three-quarters of a cup of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar (brown sugar adds yet another layer of flavor), and salt (half a teaspoon, maybe) and reduce until syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in a knob of cold butter.