Cumberland sauce is a very old, very traditional fruity piquant sauce traditionally served with venison or wild game. It is a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, savory and salty and will leave your family or friends with a taste memory. The recipe below is an easy version with no alcohol and is served up with some coriander-crusted seared pork chops.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
What is Cumberland Sauce?
Cumberland sauce is one of the classic fruity-piquant sauces designed to be served with meat or wild game. While there is not one “authentic” recipe for Cumberland sauce, it usually includes the following ingredients:
- Red currants, either in jelly or syrup or as whole fruits. You can substitute other “tart red fruit”, however, and I’ve used elderberry jelly, chokecherry jelly, tart cherries and cranberry jelly.
- Red wine or Port. I love cooking with Port, but if you don’t like to use alcohol in your cooking you can use red wine vinegar. The recipe below was made with red wine vinegar, and while not traditionally authentic, it was still delicious.
- Citrus. Most recipes have either lemon or orange zest plus some juice, too. I used a red current and blood orange jelly but I would also add citrus zest if you have citrus on hand. The bitter Seville oranges are what was historically used.
- Mustard: I prefer Dijon mustard, but the classic version uses English dry mustard spice (Coleman’s). Black pepper is another standard ingrediant.
How to Make the Traditional Version
My version (recipe at end of post) includes caramelized onions, as I use sautéed onions with just about any sauce that goes with meat.Jump to Recipe
While my recipe is a quick and easy version, the following recipe is the more traditional one from BBC Cooking:
- Melt a “knob” of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add 2 shallots (finely sliced) and a “thumb-sized piece” of fresh ginger (grated); Fry for 2-3 minutes, until soft.
- Add 3 oz. port and boil until the liquid reduces to a very thick syrup, then add 5 oz chicken stock.
- Bring the stock to the boil, then add 9 oz redcurrant jelly and 1 tsp green peppercorns and reduce the heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the jelly has completely dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and serve.
What Does Cumberland Sauce Go With?
Cumberland sauce is a wonderfully flavorful condiment for the turkey, ham, duck and roast goose that are traditionally served around the holidays. It adds a special touch to your holiday gatherings without costing you a lot of precious time. It’s simple to make and a compliment-generator. After the big feast, use it to dress up leftovers at a casual get-together or a family dinner.
Where did Cumberland Sauce Originate?
The fruity-piquant sauce was often used with game in Medieval cooking in order to tone down the gamey taste with strong flavors. The named version of this sauce is traced to Hanover, Germany, but the British made it popular, and it is now iconically British. It is a classic sauce for Winter holidays in England.
What Other Fruit Works in Cumberland Sauce?
The idea of tangy fruit sauces paired with meat is not relegated to just the Cumberland sauce of course. The classic fruit that is found in a Cumberland sauce is red currants, but many other fruits will work as well. The key is to have a tart red fruit.
I have used the following tart red fruit preserves and they have all been delicious. Jellies are typically sweeter than jams and will offer a smoother sauce. Try to avoid the inexpensive store-bought jellies as they tend to be sickly sweet. Here are a few to try if you cannot find red currant jelly:
- Cranberry jelly
- Tart cherry jelly
- Elderberry, Black Currant or Gooseberry jelly
- Chokecherry jelly
- Raspberry jelly (if it is low-sugar)
Cumberland sauce stores well in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The sauce can be frozen for up to a month.
Add cornstarch to fruit sauces that need thickening. Always mix cornstarch with a cool liquid before adding to ensure that it doesn’t clump up in the boiling fruit mixture.
Port wine is the classic liquid ingredient in Cumberland sauce. I used red wine vinegar, which still has a trace of alcohol but a very small amount. Most of the alcohol is used up in the fermentation process, but there may be trace amounts still there – on the order of between 0.1% and 2%. Consequently, using a tablespoon of white wine vinegar might contain a drop of ethanol.
If you want to avoid alcohol in entirety, you could try more citrus juice, some pickle juice or the brine from capers. It will not be the same sauce, but will still be tasty.
Other Recipes that would Work with Cumberland Sauce:
Try it instead of the apple-onion-cream sauce with Pheasant Normandy
Try it on top of Beef Brisket instead of the Chimichurri sauce
Lamb is often used with these fruity piquant sauces. Try a Rolled Leg of Lamb
Pork Chops with Cumberland Sauce
- Small pot
- Cutting board
- Small bowls
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 Onion Chopped
- 4 Pork chops Thick chops are best
- 1 Teaspoon Salt Kosher
- 2 Teaspoons Coriander If using fresh, toast it quickly and grind
- 1 Teaspoon Dried thyme Crushed
- 1 Teaspoon Minced garlic
- 4 Tablespoons Currant jelly Or other red tart jelly
- 2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar Or Port wine or red wine
- 1-2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black pepper Ground
- In a large skillet, heat up olive oil and add the chopped onion to the skillet. Saute about 5 minutes or until translucent. Remove from skillet and place in small pot.
- Season pork chops on both sides with salt, coriander and thyme. Add a little more olive oil to skillet if needed and heat up over medium high heat. Add pork chops and sear, cooking for about 4-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Flip over when chops are seared to your liking on the bottom side. Lower heat a bit and cook on the flip side for 5-8 minutes (depending on thickness)
- While pork chops are cooking add remaining ingredients (garlic through pepper to the pot with the reserved onions. Cook mixture over medium low heat until jelly is melted and all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
- When pork chops are done serve with the sauce either on the side or drizzled over the chops. Serve with a side of greens or potatoes and a green vegetable.
Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details