Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Red Currants

Hey! ~ I thought to myself ~ As I nervously stirred a tiny pot of sauce for the New Year's Eve dinner. It didn't need to be stirred but doing so kept me from making small talk with a couple of strangers. (It also prevented me from strangling their 2 year old bratty boy!)

I used to be pretty good at small talk. Not so much anymore. I give it a shot but if the other person has taken on the role of part-time fencepost, I immediately switch gears and entertain myself. (Which is what I did last night and I had a marvelous time.)

My aha! moment came while stirring this Red Wine Currant Sauce and pondering how good it could be if currants were more popular. Rarely are they sold fresh, though the box o' dried raisins variety plump up for a very tasty sauce.

Currants are gorgeous, fast-growing, USDA zone 3 shrubs. They put forth bright beautiful tart red berries that hang from their branches like clusters of grapes.

If you don't have it in ya to be the farm girl that harvests these luscious berries for jams and pies, fear not.

Every bird in the county will thank you for adding this ornamental shrub to your garden! (They'll thank me, too, 'cause that's exactly what I intend to do!)

Red Wine Currant Sauce
Serve it on duck, pheasant, beef and pretty much anything else under the sun.
* Or, just stir up a pot for the hell of it! It's a great diversion if you're trying to get along with someone who refuses to converse!

Create a stock by simmering these goodies for at least 30 minutes:
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup red currant jelly
  • 1/4 cup dry red currants (in the grocery store, near the raisins, if you're lucky.)
* Salt to taste

Use this combo to thicken your sauce:
  1. Melt 1/3 cup butter
  2. Mix in 1/3 cup flour
  3. Add to the stock
* Currants are very popular in Europe - the secret ingredient in all sorts of decadent goodies... like this fabulous French Chocolate Cake.

* Currants reach 5-6 feet at maturity. Berries are red, white, black and possibly purple if your soil is really weird.


B said...

Happy New Year! Can't wait to see what you share with us this year. My yard is covered with wind swept snow, but since the holidays are gone, I am looking toward spring and green things.

Anonymous said...

Though this post was from a long time ago I have questions: where can you find red currants (fresh) in Utah? When do they appear on the plants, and how do you know if they're ripe? please let me know at