A few weeks ago, my husband and I were asked to bring a fruit side to a dinner party. I wanted something fresh, easy and well...unique. I always like to use these opportunities to discover something new and stretch myself as a home cook. I also knew that I had no idea what the likings of the other dinner guests would be -- so I didn't want to go too crazy.
I've got some major perks working for a food products company that has a full-time executive chef on staff. I'm always picking his brain and getting fabulous ideas. After tossing around a few dish ideas, he suggested I buy some fresh strawberries and just make a nice balsamic reduction to top them.
Perfect! So my side dish would be fresh strawberries with a balsamic reduction!
Isn't it beautiful?
So, during my lunch break I headed on over to Williams-Sonoma and bought some really great (in my opinion) balsamic vinegar. I chose a 25-year, barrel-aged balsamic vinegar by Olivier. Oh man, it was seriously delicious and I knew after reducing it that I would have a winner.
Since I chose to go with a high-quality balsamic I didn't have to reduce it down much. The way Chef Brian recommend to reduce it was on a super-low heat for a couple hours. If we were using a cheaper balsamic we would have added a bit of sugar and it would have taken many more hours. The way you know the balsamic is reduced to the right consistency is if it coats a spoon.
Since I only needed a little, we really just poured in a few cups and reduced it to about one cup. (I wanted leftovers.) I have to tell you the results were incredible! This reduction was like candy with its pungent sweetness, but still maintained that acidic tang that I love in a great vinegar!
My husband picked up some nice big strawberries from Costco. I cleaned them and sliced them in half then placed them on fun white platter before I drizzled the balsamic over them. A little goes a long way, so you may want to be conservative.
If I had to do this over again, I would have put the reduction in a trustee squeeze bottle that I like buy at a local restaurant supply store. (That's a latest obsession I need to expound on.)
I'd also wait to do drizzle the glaze at the last minute...if you slice the strawberries. Because the strawberries will obviously start to weep some water and create a fun little pool of strawberry juice and the reduction. And by fun I mean ugly.
***You'll most likely have leftovers of the reduction and you should be excited! I've been using mine on top of salads with a bit of olive oil, I've added it to some chicken and vegetable dishes and so much more. I plan to make a special salad of grilled asparagus, fresh strawberries and feta cheese too! YUM!***
I don't have an exact recipe for this but I'll attempt just so you have some sort of starting point.
Fresh Strawberries with a Balsamic Reduction
1 lb. fresh strawberries (I prefer medium size)
1-2 cups high-quality balsamic vinegar
(if using a lower-grade balsamic you may want to add a bit of sugar around 1/4-1/2 cup)
Pour balsamic vinegar into a medium-sized saucepan. Turn heat on lowest possible temperature. If using gas burner this should be just a flicker. Let vinegar reduce for 2-4 hours or until vinegar comes to a thick consistency and coats a spoon.
Clean strawberries and slice them in half. Place on platter. (I prefer to leave the greens on the strawberries for the addition of color, but you can hull them if you prefer.)
Carefully drizzle the balsamic reduction over the strawberries with a fork or spoon. If you have a squeeze bottle use that.
Serve as soon as possible.