Makes about 4¼ cups
This sauce has beautiful color, great flavor and mild heat from dried pepper. The recipe yields a generous amount, so although it’s a little pricey to make — veal demi-glace is expensive — think of it as an investment in the future. The sauce can be covered and refrigerated for several weeks.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into large dice (about 1½ cups)
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1 whole clove
¼ of a star anise
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup tomato paste
5 ounces prunes, chopped (about 1½ cups)
Zest off a fourth of an orange, cut into long, wide strips, plus juice of 1 orange
1 cup red wine
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup reduced veal stock (veal demi-glace)
1 cup water, or more as needed
1 dried pepperoncini pepper (may substitute a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, minus seeds)
2 tablespoons salt
1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is brown and caramelized but not burned, about 30 minutes.
2. While the onion is cooking, tie the clove, star anise, thyme and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth or combine them in a small sachet bag.
3. Add the garlic to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for three minutes, then add the sugar and the tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste is dark red and caramelized, about two minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent scorching.
4. Add the sachet, prunes, orange zest and juice, wine, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, reduced veal stock, water, dried pepperoncini, salt and anchovy, and cook uncovered over low heat for about 30 minutes.
5. Transfer the sauce to a blender, discarding the strips of orange peel and sachet. Remove the center lid from the blender, cover the opening with a clean kitchen towel and purée until smooth. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add water as needed. Pour the sauce through a strainer, scraping the strainer with a flexible spatula to push the sauce through, and discard any solids left in the strainer. Serve, or transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.
Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving: 45 calories, 1 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar
Adapted by The Washington Post from Tom Colicchio, owner of the Craft restaurant chain and head judge on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.”