This creamy black pepper sauce is a true family favourite in our house and has been for many years. It’s also a recipe that friends ask for over and over again, so I thought it was about time that I got it down on paper.
I have always enjoyed a good meal, but I don’t think I truly fell in love with food and cooking until I was 16 years old and got a part-time job as a waitress in a French restaurant in Cheshire. I had already started to cook a whole range of dishes for family and friends (Christmas dinner was my regular gig), but working at La Boheme really opened my eyes to all the wonderful things that could be done with food. It was (and still is, check it out here www.laboheme.co.uk ) a really great restaurant run by my friends Olivier and Adele Troalen – they even catered my wedding a few years ago and it was incredible.
One of La Boheme’s absolute signature sauces is a creamy black pepper sauce. It is ridiculously delicious and my Mum still can’t visit La Boheme without ordering it. I begged one of the chefs for the recipe over 15 years ago and have made my own tweaks over the years. You can, of course, serve it with whatever you like, but I think it sacrilege to serve it with anything other than a good steak, creamy mashed potato (or homemade chips, if you are pushing the boat out), some green vegetables and a good glass of red wine (this is basically my husband’s favourite dinner).
So here is my spin on La Boheme’s famous pepper sauce…
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1tsp olive oil
- 1 small banana shallot
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or very finely diced
- 1tsp tomato purée
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (on a course grind if you can)
- 250ml good quality beef stock
- 250ml red wine
- 125ml double cream
Melt the butter in a small to medium sized saucepan, over a low heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil.
Whilst you are doing this, finely dice the banana shallot. Once the melted butter has stopped foaming, add the diced shallot to the saucepan with a pinch of salt. Once it starts to soften and become translucent, add the crushed / diced garlic clove. Stir for another minute or two, keeping a close eye on the pan to ensure that the shallot and garlic doesn’t brown or burn.
Add the black pepper and stir briefly, before stirring in the tomato purée. This amount of pepper will make a pretty peppery sauce – if you want it milder, then halve the amount of pepper. You can always add more later.
Add the red wine and bring it to the boil. Keep it simmering until the volume of liquid has reduced by two thirds. Then add the beef stock, bring to the boil and again simmer until the liquid has reduced by two thirds.
Finally, add the cream and gently reduce until the sauce thickens enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon.
Check seasoning – add a big pinch of salt and a small pinch of sugar (you can also add more pepper at this point if not already peppery enough for you) and serve, knowing that you are about to eat a very delicious dinner!