It’s that prolific time of year again when the elderberries are beginning to hang in glorious, rich, deep purple, almost black, bunches, unusually ready to use before many of the blackberries. The sharp richness of the berries is a perfect foil for game, so why not try our take on the 17th century Pontack Sauce, created and served at the Pontack’s Head Tavern in Lombard Street by Monsieur Pontack himself.
We sweat 2 finely diced shallots in a teaspoonful of butter, add a couple of cloves (or none if you’re like me), 4 allspice berries, 2 pieces of mace blade (or a good half teaspoonful of ground mace), half an inch of grated root ginger, a teaspoonful of cracked black peppercorns and a good pinch of salt. Finally splash in 250ml of our elderberry vinegar (or 125ml each of our elderberry vinegar and red wine), bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to a non-metal lidded container to steep for at least 2 days before filtering and bottling. You can thicken with a little arrowroot or reduce it by half to concentrate the flavour when you come to use it.