An elderberry sauce for duck, chicken, beef and pork

JP McMahon: A spiced elderberry and orange rum may be just the thing I need this Christmas

As with damsons, elderberries are great for flavouring alcohols such as gin.

As with damsons, elderberries are great for flavouring alcohols such as gin.

 

What do headaches, syphilis, snake bites, and sore throats have in common? It is said that a cup of elderberry tea will alleviate their symptoms, if not cure them completely. Simply pour boiling water over a bunch of freshly picked elderberries, leave for a few minutes and strain.

Elderberries were also said to help people suffering with madness but I don’t know how much of this is true. Though I do know that elderberry syrup is good for coughs, that is, according to Sharon Greene of Wild Irish Foragers. They sell syrups and shrubs (another old Irish medicinal drink) online which I use in my cooking from time to time, to add a little wild touch to a sauce or sweet purée.

As with damsons, elderberries are great for flavouring alcohols such as gin. Use 500g of elderberries for one litre of spirits. Leave for three months in a dark place in Kilner jar. Sweeten before serving. Elderberries also work well with rum, so if you want an elderberry rum for cocktails this Christmas go out and get picking now. A spiced elderberry and orange rum may be just the thing I need this Christmas.

How to make elderberry sauce

To make this sauce you need to make your own chicken or beef stock, or buy a good quality ready-made stock such as Sadie’s Kitchen Comforting Chicken Bone Broth. It’s widely available and is made with free range Irish chicken bones from Ring’s Farm in Co Kilkenny and organic apple cider vinegar.

Fry one chopped onion, two chopped carrots and some garlic and then add 175ml red wine or port. Reduce until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add fresh thyme and rosemary and 350ml of chicken stock and reduce by half. Add a handful of plump elderberries and simmer for 30 minutes before straining. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and thicken with a little cornflour if desired. I often add a little Wildwood blackberry balsamic vinegar from Fionntán Gogarty for a touch of wonderful acidity. This sauce works well with duck, chicken, beef and pork.

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