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Juniper and Fennel Mignonette

Juniper and Fennel mignonette is a unique narrative on the classic mignonette sauce. It’s beaming with the typical clean, sharp acidity of traditional mignonette, but made fanciful with notes of anise, citrus and pine. This mignonette holds up beautifully in its standard position with an icy platter of oysters on the half shell; yet is more complex, versatile and able to play nicely as an accompaniment to red meat like beef, venison or elk. I have even served this mignonette in place of chimichurri sauce, as a piquant counterpoint to the richness of roasted bone marrow, and drizzled over lightly stemmed, delicate vegetables like white asparagus and sugar snap peas.

A bit of nostalgia

I grew up on a mountain in Virginia, thick with Juniper trees. During the summer months, hikes through the forest were perfumed with their pungent, coniferous bouquet, while pieces of their prickly leaves could be found hitching a ride on my jacket. During the winter holiday season, other families adorn their homes with pine, fir or spruce, while we scouted, foraged and celebrated with a Juniper tree. The gangly branches of this wild, bulbous tree were a perfectly imperfect canvas for ornate decoration. Its girth took up half of the living room and its resinous berries could be found rolling around the house months after the revelry had passed. To this day, the Juniper is one of my favorite trees. A gentle rub of a leaf and the fragrance sends me down memory lane. I haven’t made use of a whole tree lately but I do enjoy using the berries in cooking and even in an occasional baked good. I will forever have gratitude and love for this most special of woodland ingredients.

Two fun facts

  • Lore has it that although mignonette is a French term, mignonette did not in fact, originate in France. Mignonette is thought to have originated from the US, created in New York in the early twentieth century.
  • Juniper “berries” are not true berries; they are female seed cones with tiny merged scales similar to a pine cone.
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Juniper and Fennel Mignonette


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  • Author: Asha
  • Yield: 1 ½ cups 1x

Description

Yields approximately 1 ½ cups.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 23 medium shallots, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fennel stems (the celery like stalk)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds (the feather tops)
  • 810 juniper berries, ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • Pinch of sea salt

 


Instructions

 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small/medium serving bowl. Gently stir to combine.

  2. Cover the mignonette and refrigerate for at least ten minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the flavors if desired.

  3. Mignonette can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Serve

Remove the mignonette from the refrigerator just before serving. Serve the mignonette cold or cool as an accompaniment to seafood or red meat.

Notes

If you are sensitive to acidity but enjoy the taste of mignonette, you can tame the acidity by adding a splash of cool water to the sauce.

If you want to accentuate the flavor of the juniper, add a teaspoon of gin to the sauce.

You can save the leftover bulb of fennel for use in other applications such as roasting, or raw in salads like Shaved Fennel-Citrus Salad.

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