I know that spring has arrived when the sorrel in my garden bursts forth with a profusion of lance-shaped green leaves. Sorrel is a perennial, and the leaves have an intense lemony tang. People use it raw in salads, but it also makes a fabulous quick classic sorrel sauce. While many cuisines of the world make use of sorrel, let me write here about its contribution to classic French cuisine.
A simple sorrel sauce with salmon made history in the cooking world in the early 70s, when the Troigros brothers served their saumon a l’oseille with the fish sautéed dry, placed on TOP of a pool of sauce (gasp!). Their sauce was a multilayered construction, beginning with finely minced shallots and mushrooms, sweated carefully in butter, reduced with white wine, and finished with cream. It was one of the revolutionary dishes that launched La Nouvelle Cuisine and is still served today: a sauce with no roux, no flour; a pan sauce where the fresh ingredients are the focus. This is not only a quick sauce, but it’s gluten free.
You don’t have to be a French chef to make this. You can put together a quick classic sorrel sauce in about 15 minutes. It’s perfectly wonderful with salmon or nearly any other fish, but also excellent with roast chicken, boiled or baked potatoes, as a filling for an omelet, over poached eggs on toast, or as an addition to a quiche. Make this sauce! It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s delicious.
Quick Classic Sorrel Sauce
- 1 - 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 bunch sorrel, about 12-15 leaves
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Peel the shallot and mince it finely. Remove the stems from the sorrel leaves, then stack the leaves on top of each other, and roll them up from side to side, like a fat green cigar. Slice this crosswise in very thin strips.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat, and when it's hot, put in a knob of butter to melt. Add the minced shallots and sweat them – that is, cook them without letting them get brown – until they are soft.
- Add the strips of sorrel, and cook them until they are thoroughly wilted. Don't be disconcerted when the sorrel turns a sort of swampy green color, this is normal.
- Add the wine, and bring to a boil. Let it bubble and cook until the liquid is reduced to about half its volume.
- Add the cream, and lower the heat. Don't let it boil, but cook the sauce gently until it will coat the back of a spoon.