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Basic balsamic reduction is simple (add heat), but I'm looking for additives. Herbs, spices, sugar, other alcohol, whatever that would elevate my favorite tomato topping. Anyone have any favorites?

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I would edit to make this community wiki. There is no definitive answer. –  Jacob R Jul 12 '10 at 20:08
@Jacob R: Wiki'd up. –  Satanicpuppy Jul 12 '10 at 21:46
See meta on closing, this is no longer an on-topic question: meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1645/… –  SAJ14SAJ Apr 15 '13 at 0:06
More precisely it's on topic but not constructive, because it's a poll. –  Jefromi Apr 15 '13 at 1:08
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closed as not constructive by SAJ14SAJ, Jefromi Apr 15 '13 at 1:07

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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Any of the following are great additions (probably not all at once, though):

  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • a splash of wine
  • chiles
  • basil
  • black pepper

Going in a different direction, the right balance something like cinnamon, cloves or anise can even work well.

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Strawberries. Sounds crazy but balsamic really brings out the "strawberry-ness" of strawberries. Makes a wonderful sauce over good vanilla icecream.

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Just saw this on Fox's show "Master Chef (US)". Looks great and delicious. You only want to use a little of this reduction as it'll overpower the flavor of whatever dish you'll put it on. –  chrisjlee Jun 23 '11 at 14:38
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My two favourites are:

  • ground Nutmeg
  • Red Vermouth (such as Martini rosso, or Cinzano)

They go very well, either apart or together.

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I have a recipe that can be used to accompany a variety of dishes. Quite often I use this with pasta and even just put in on toast, topped of with some fresh mozzarella and a splash of olive oil. :)

The quantities can be adjusted to suite your particular tastes, some components may even be omitted, others added:

  • Sweet red onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • finely chopped bacon (optional)
  • Olive oil (good quality Extra virgin)
  • Balsamic reduction (made with a good quality vinegar)
  • sugar and salt to taste
  • Fresh basil

Sauté the onion in some olive oil until slightly translucent; add the garlic, bacon (if used) and chopped sun dried tomatoes. Stir and add the sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil and let it simmer for about an hour.

When cooked add the fresh basil and use as a sauce for pasta, chicken tuna etc. Add a squeeze of the reduction for extra flavour.

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I really enjoy a nice sauce with balsamic, sugar, and soy sauce. Tastes great over chicken wings.

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Whenever I add sugar, everything tastes wonky to me. What kind of proportion do you use? –  Satanicpuppy Jul 12 '10 at 20:18
3/4 cup balsamic 1/4 cup soy sauce 2 tsp sugar 1 tbsp unsalted butter mix liquids and reduce to about 1/2 cup and then stir in butter and let it melt. –  Jacob R Jul 12 '10 at 22:59
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