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Unit 4, Day 4, Wednesday: Stock based Sauces
Steven has given you these fundamentals of a fabulous stock, now we're going to transform that product into sauces. From there, a whole world will open up to you that you never dreamed possible! Don't be too afraid. It is okay to experiment AND screw up. I'll be giving you pointers of how to fix mistakes and troubleshoot problems
It is generally believed that the French invented the concept of the sauce. But I believe it is a mistake to blame Escoffier for the rich, creamy sauces that many consider to be French in origin. He used sauces, of course, if a dish required them. But as Esther B. Aresty points out in The Exquisite Table, "he often he returned to La Varenne's simple method, using the juices that escaped from the food in cooking and reducing them for a sauce base." Believing that flour as a thickening agent would eventually be discontinued, Escoffier himself pointed out, "remember that starch is the only element in flour that makes it thicken. Pure starch, arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch would accomplish the same purpose but give a better result."
James Peterson, in his book, Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making states, "In the last two decades, sauces thickened with reduced cream have become almost universal and in most cases have completely replaced roux-thickened white sauces. Because they are given body by reduction instead of with roux, they are usually more intensely flavored than their roux-thickened predecessors." While it may seem that Escoffier is vindicated at last, I encourage you to experiment in the "classic" methods of sauce preparation as it will broaden the base upon which you can experiment with the methods of the Nouveau Cuisine chefs.
There are obvious reasons for utilizing sauces in one's cooking: moistness; flavor; richness; and appearance (added color and shine). A great sauce is a very basic thing: a good, flavorful, liquid base and a thickening agent. The French originated the idea of the "mother" sauce from which innumerable variations could be made. A mother sauce plus a flavoring produces a small sauce. While classic sauces were essentially limited to meat broth (mammal, fowl, or fish stocks) or dairy products, modern sauce-makers and the health-conscious alike are expanding their repertoire of sauces using vegetable stocks, vegetable and fruit juices, and even wine or beer.
A NOTE ABOUT THE SAUCE PAN
Without shilling for All-Clad too much, I would like to recommend a proper sauce pan, one with a sloped interior. The major trick to producing a very smooth sauce is being able to combine all the ingredients successfully. The hazards of a straight-sided pan is that there tends to be that corner of the pan where thickeners and other sediments will clump. There is nothing worse than trying to scrape sections of your sauce out of an edge of pan. As in the pictures below, those slope-sided pans have no interior corner and makes the creation of a sauce a joyous thing.
ROUX AND OTHER THICKENERS
The classically utilized thickener is called a roux and it is a combination of flour and fat that is cooked in various fashions to complement a liquid. I am extremely fond of roux because you can prepare large amounts of it in advance, store it for long periods of time, and use it when needed (just like frozen cubes of stock!). Scientifically speaking, a good roux has enough fat granules to coat the starch granules. Fats that can be used in making a roux are: clarified butter, margarine, animal fats (lard), and vegetable oil or shortening. I know a few sauciers who utilize vegetable oil for their roux to accommodate vegetarians, but I know of none that consider margarine acceptable, except in emergencies. While extremely well-practiced sauciers can discern the differences in their flour, I have not been able to tell any differences. For your reference, the quantity of starch in a flour, from highest to lowest is as follows: pastry, cake, all-purpose, and then bread flour.
MAKING A ROUX
1/2 pound unsalted butter (I recommend Plugra)
1/2 pound flour
(Note: this is a proportional measurement. Some sauce recipes will call for two ounces of butter and two ounces of flour, which creates the roux. This recipe is to create a supply of roux which you can keep for later use. You can use one pound of butter and one pound of flour or less or more, just so that they are the same amounts.) I am using the 1/2 pound measurement:
The method for preparing a roux is to melt the fat in a pan over moderate heat and add the flour and stir until smooth and cook until the "floury" taste is gone.
Cook, stirring constantly to achieve the desired color. White roux should be barely colored, or chalky. This is the roux that is used for milk and cream-based sauces. Moderate (or medium) heat is important. Heating the pan up quickly to melt the fat will result in evaporation and you will lose your proportions.
In the beginning, the roux will look clumpy, somewhat like very pasty oatmeal.
A pale, or blonde roux should be straw-colored and is used in veloutes and white sauces.
A brown or black roux will be deep in color, have a nutty aroma, and is used in brown sauces. One caveat: A browned-flour roux has one-third the thickening power of other roux and is often used more to enhance color and flavor than to thicken the sauce.
Other thickening starches that can be used include cornstarch, arrowroot, or breadcrumbs. There are many classic ways to thicken a sauce other than using a starch. These include a liaison of egg yolk and cream, a beurre manie ("kneaded butter"), or simple reduction. Those experimenting with Nouvelle Cuisine have succeeded in expanding thickening agents to include pureed beans, rice, and grains. The simple act of reducing a sauce is not only a method for thickening, but also an effective method for finishing a sauce as it not only concentrates flavors, but can also add new flavors and adjust the texture. This idea of finishing a sauce is an important concept - but one I want you to remember, as we will address it later. First, we must return to the concept of...
THE MOTHER SAUCE
The Mother sauces are generally put into two classifications, Warm and Cold sauces.
The five basic warm sauces are:
1. Bechamel - Made from milk and a white roux. Variations include the Mornay Sauce (Bechamel with cream and cheese), Sauce Nantua (Bechamel with shrimp butter), and Sauce Raifurt (Bechamel with horseradish).
2. Veloute - Stock thickened with white roux. Variations include Sauce Supreme (Chicken veloute with cream), Sauce au vin Blanc (Fish veloute with wine and liaison), and Sauce Allemande (Veal veloute with liaison).
3. Brown or Espagnole - Brown stock bound with brown roux. Variations include Demi Glace (enriched brown stock), Madeira Sauce (Demi Glace with Madeira and shallots), and Sauce Chasseur (Demi Glace with shallots, mushrooms, white wine, and tomatoes).
4. Tomato Sauce - White stock with tomatoes, mirepoix, lightly bound with flour. Variations include Sauce Portuguese (Tomato with garlic, stock, and chopped parsley - a variation of basic tomato sauce).
5. Butter Sauces - Variations include Hollandaise (an emulsion of egg yolks and butter fat), Sauce Mousseline (Hollandaise with whipped cream), and Bernaise Sauce (an emulsion of egg yolks and butter fat with a tarragon acid reduction). These sauces will be covered by Lisa in her course.
The two basic cold sauces are:
1. Oil Sauces - There are two basic types of oil sauces, Mayonnaise (egg and oil emulsion) and Vinaigrette Sauces (combination of oil and acid). Mayonnaise variations can include Remoulade Sauce (mayonnaise with capers, chopped parsley, pickles and anchovy) and Sauce Verte (mayonnaise mixed with puree of parsley, watercress, and tarragon). Vinaigrette variations include French Vinaigrette (mustard in vinaigrette, emulsified) and Sauce Ravigote (vinaigrette with capers and chopped pickles).
2. Compound Butter Sauces - Not sauces in the classical sense, but butter mixed with seasoning that can be placed upon finished dishes (usually warm). Examples include Maitre d'Hotel Butter (butter with lemon, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley) and Herbed Butter (butter with lemon, salt, pepper, chopped dill, basil, and chives).
Lisa will tell you all about the oil sauces and compund butter sauces in greater detail.
To initiate you into the world of the Classic Sauce, I have presented instructions for both the white stock-based Veloute and variations (Part A) and the brown stock-based Sauce Espagnole and variations (Part B). The very end includes a section on troubleshooting and correcting problems.
For the Brown Stock-based sauce, the coursework is based entirely on the premise that you have made the brown stock from the previous class. Do not cheat yourself by attempting to create a classic brown sauce with a canned broth, a bouillon cube, or any other quick-manufactured method of stock. These grocery store products are produced with so much salt and preservatives as to completely deny you the ability to manipulate and create any of the classic brown sauces we are going to discuss.
For the Veloute, I am not quite so adamant on this point and this lesson can be gone through with a canned broth. When it comes to fish-based, vegetable-based, or even possibly chicken-based sauces, I understand that it is frequently necessary to utilize shortcuts in the kitchen and if I run out of homemade chicken stock, I can manipulate the seasonings in a sauce made with a commercial stock (see HINTS, at the end). Some of the best fish-based sauces are made with the bottled juices of clams or muscles, if no fresh is readily at hand.
But for a truly exquisite brown sauce, do yourself a favor just once, and make one from scratch. Once basic elements have been constructed (like a Sauce Espagnole or a Demi Glace), just like your frozen cubes of stock, brilliant variations can be constructed with frozen cubes of brown sauce. The lowliest cut of meat can instantly be transformed into a spectacular presentation of haute cuisine, with a few basic ingredients...
Part A - White Sauce
This sauce is an excellent start even if you have not been able to make your own stock. It is a great beginning to experiment even with canned chicken broth but be wary of adding any salt. It is actually pretty simple and only requires a little patience and attention. Read through all the instructions before beginning.
Of Veloute, according to Larousse Gastronomique, "in cookery, this name is used more than anything else as the title for a white sauce made with white veal or chicken stock, a basic sauce which is used as a base for a number of other sauces, notably Allemande." When one thinks of the "classic, French cream sauce," it is the Veloute-based Sauce Allemande which is what is being recalled. Historically, the name originates with Careme (the High Priest of Haute Cuisine), because the sauce is light in color, used a Germanic-reference to differentiate this sauce from the dark brown, Sauce Espagnole.
We won't be discussing nutritional or caloric content here. It is rich, creamy and fattening. Get over it; it tastes good. I do want to add some important distinctions. While we are going to be delving into a Sauce Allemande made with chicken stock, it is important to know the classic differentiations:
Use White Stock (Fond Blanc) to make Allemande Sauce
Use Chicken Stock (Fond Volaille) to make Supreme Sauce
Use Fish Stock (Fond de Poisson) to make White Sauce
Use Milk (Lait) to make Bechamel Sauce
On to Sauce Making!
1 oz. butter
1 oz. flour
2 cups white stock (veal, fish, or chicken), heated
METHOD FOR BASIC VELOUTE
1. Make a roux with the butter and flour. Cook over low heat for three to four minutes. Cool the roux slightly.
2. Gradually add the hot stock to the roux, beating constantly until it boils.
3. Simmer the sauce very slowly for 1/2 hour. Skim the surface once and let reduce and thicken.
4. Strain through a chinoise (strainer) to remove thickened bits. Professional note: In high-end kitchens, professional sauciers will strain this sauce through dampened cheesecloth for an even more smooth consistency. I do not feel this is necessary for a serious amateur. In a professional kitchen, this strained sauce would be covered with plastic wrap (directly on the surface of the sauce to prevent skin formation). They would then keep this sauce hot in a bain marie or cooled in a water bath for later use.
Congratulations! You have just finished a Basic Veloute Sauce! The first classic Mother Sauce! Now, move forward -- create a Sauce Allemande with the following instructions:
2 Cups Basic Veloute Sauce (about what you just made)
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Juice from 1/2 lemon (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
White Pepper (to taste)
METHOD FOR SAUCE ALLEMANDE
1. In a heat-resistant bowl, whisk egg yolk and 1/4 cream. This is known as a "liason"
2. Bring your veloute back to a simmer temperature (not boiling).
3. Temper your egg mixture by slowing beating in 1/2 cup of hot sauce.
This is an important technique AND step. If the liason were poured straight into the hot sauce, the egg/cream mixture would begin to cook and curdle. By pouring a small amount of hot stock into the liason, the temperature of the liason is beginning to be brought up to the temperature of the sauce on the stove.
4. Stir this mixture back into the sauce pan.
5. Stir slowly and bring both up to simmer (do not boil).
6. Add lemon juice, salt, and white pepper.
Congratulations again! You have now created a Sauce Allemande! Again, a professional saucier would strain this sauce AGAIN, a step I feel is not necessary in the home kitchen. Now let's get creative...
2 Cups Sauce Allemande
1/4 cup capers
1 tblsp. fresh tarragon
Dash of Champagne or White Wine vinegar
It is really at this point in your Sauce Allemande that you can personalize it. I started with just the thought of capers.
The dash of vinegar was a nice contrast to the salt of the capers and the lemon juice. But it made it a bit bitter. I added more lemon juice (a good "antidote" to vinegar) and struck upon the idea of tarragon at the last minute.
In preparing this classwork (and not wanting good sauce to go to waste), I decided to grill up a few chicken breasts, saute some mushrooms, and boil some plain white rice. Here's the result:
Now you can push on from here... here is a list of variations that come from some of the historical treatises like Careme and Escoffier:
Veal Stock-based Variations: caper, chaud-froid, chive, chivry, curry, horseradish, mushroom, poulette, tarragon, Villeroi.
Chicken Stock-based Variations: Albufera, mushroom, tarragon, Toulouse
Fish Stock-based Variations: anchovy, Bercy, caper, cardinal, chaud-froid, fine herb, lobster, Normandy, oyster, riche, shrimp, Victoria
Milk-based Variations: aurora, chantilly, cream, horseradish, mornay, Nantua
Part B - Brown Sauce
This is the perfect sauce for homemade stock. No canned broths or buillion cubes here! The classic Brown Sauce is also known as Sauce Espagnole, given that name by Careme. From Larousse's Gastronomique, "it is also called sauce-mere (parent-sauce) which indicates that it can be used as a basis for a vast number of derivative brown sauces. Some gastronomes regard it as a somewhat inferior sauce, but this point of view seems quite unjustified when Espagnole sauce is made as it should be, and succulent in consequence." Careme's recipe calls for "two slices of Bayonne ham... a noix of veal and two partridges and enough stock just to cover the veal only..." The instructions go on for eleven more paragraphs!
One last note... Like Steven's stocks, this is not a fast process. It involves patience and much reducing of stock to a thick, rich, flavorful sauce. To show you an example, below is a picture of one tablespoon of my beginning stock, and one tablespoon of the demi-glace which I acquired after numerous reductions:
On to sauce making!
4 oz. onion, medium dice
2 oz. celery, diced
2 oz. carrot, diced
1 oz. butter
2 oz. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 quarts brown stock, warm
2 oz. tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1/3 tsp thyme (two fresh sprigs)
4 parsley stems
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the mirepoix to the butter.
3. Stir until all the vegetables are well browned. Note: It is important to do this over a MEDIUM heat, slowly (it could take over half an hour). If you try and do this quickly, your melted butter will evaporate!
4. Add flour, stir to make a roux.
6. Cook slowly until roux is medium brown, stirring constantly.
7. Gradually stir in the brown stock.
and tomato puree
8. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Scrape the bottom for any browned bits of roux. When it has come to a boil, add the bouquet garni (herbs).
9. Reduce heat to simmer and skim surface. Let simmer for two hours until sauce is reduced.
10. Skim every half-hour or so.
11. Strain through a chinois lined with DAMPENED cheesecloth (this time, the cheesecloth IS important!) Press on mirepoix to extract their juices.
Be patient (again!) as it will take a while for this thickened sauce to get through the strainer.
At this point, you can save and cool this sauce by placing some plastic wrap directly on top to prevent skin formation. This sauce can be frozen into cubes for later or you can go on and make a Demi-Glace.
1/2 cup brown sauce (espagnole)
1/2 cup brown stock
1. Combine sauce and stock and simmer until reduced by half.
2. Strain through chinois lined with cheesecloth.
See how thick it is...
Variations which can be made with Sauce Espagnole or Demi-Glace: bordelaise, brown chaud froid, colbert sauce, diane sauce, duxelles sauce, perigueux sauce, sauce a la moelle, sauce chevreuil, sauce poivrade, piquante sauce, etc... (there are more possibilities there than can be mentioned!).
TIPS AND TROUBLESHOOTING
This is transcribed almost verbatum from my Epicurean instruction manual...
1. Correcting lack of salt - Lack of plain salt is easily corrected by gradually adding salt as needed. The final tasting of the sauce is made ona piece of food properly salted before being sauced.
2.Correcting lack of depth and body - Some sauces, due to too light a stock or some other reason will lack not only salt but also depth and body. The sauce will be perceived as "flat" on the palate and described as "needing something." The salt corrector in this case will have to be one of the following "body" salts:
- Meat glaze if you have some.
- Meat extract of the semi-solid type. The meat extract will give the sauce the rounded body you are looking for, but meat extract should be added only in minute amounts until the sauce has acquired the required depth. One should not be able to detect it in the final test. Meat extract is always a corrector, it cannot be used as a base for a sauce.
- Anchovy paste is an excellent corrector for fish and other sauces. As with meat extract, it should give body but not be detectable. Obviously, the only time one should be able to discern the presence of anchovy is when one prepares an anchovy sauce.
- Soy sauce, sign of the times and witness to the melding of civilizations, can be used a salt body corrector, especially in those sauces with an Oriental character and containing ginger and scallions. Again, do not use so much that it would be detectable in the final taste of the sauce. I have consistently used Tamari soy sauce in my beef bourguignonne for years.
3. Correcting too much salt:
- Lemon Juice. Use a few drops to cut the sauce. If this does not work, increase the dose of lemon juice gradually. In sauces made with vinegar, do not hesitate to reduce some more vinegar and whisk it gradually into the sauce until the taste has been corrected.
- Sour cream or creme fraiche can be used in both meat and fish sauce to cut concentration.
- Heavy cream and sour cream can be used if the acid cream alone fails to correct your salt problem. Reduce the heavy cream in combination with sour cream; the concentration of lactose may be helpful.
4. Correcting too much acid:
- Sauces made by reducing acid ingredients such as wine, vinegar, or citrus juices are often perceived as too acid when finished. The basic corrector for acid is salt in any of its forms (plain salt or meat extract). Try plain salt first.
- A bit more butter will also help (in mounted sauces): for fish and shellfish sauces, reduced heavy cream is infallible.
- Reduced heavy cream deserves a special paragraph, for it is one of the most precious ingredients for the cook in modern cuisine. Should one add plain cream to a sauce already too acidic, the cream would immediately turn sour and proceed to reinforce the already existing sour taste. By reducing the cream, one challenges its chemical composition. Water evaporates, protein and milk sugars (lactose) concentrate, and the dominant taste in the cream is then that of the lactose, the element that will counteract the acidity of the sauce. One should proceed gradually, adding the reduced cream in small amounts until the taste is corrected.
5. Correcting too little acid:
- Add a drop or so of lemon juice or a tablespoon or so of sour cream or creme fraiche if the nature of the sauce allows it. Also try Dijon mustard added very gradually, in minute amounts.
6. Correcting too much sweetness
- Too much sweetness will occur in sauces containing fruit juices and fruit purees. The correctors are: lemon juice, sour cream, or prepared Dijon mustard -- each and any added very gradually until the sweetness disappears.
7. Correcting an edge of bitterness
- An 'edge' of bitterness will occur in sauces containing burned shallot or garlic, citrus rinds, chocolate, and sometimes a cooked puree of garlic (in this case because the green bud inside older cloves has not been removed before the garlic is cooked). To correct this problem, try adding reduced heavy cream or a dab of honey in minute amounts.
8. If the sauce is over-reduced
- Add stock, fish fumet, or plain water. Notice that an over-reduced sauce will often need a taste corrector as well because it is likely to be over-salted.
9. If the sauce breaks butter:
- If the butter goes out of emulsion and 'separates' as the expression goes, add stock, fish fumet, or any adequate liquid to reform the emulsion. Note that it is more of a temperature problem and the addition of another liquid also involes adjusting the heat.
10. If the sauce is too thin:
- Continue reducing. If the sauce is too thin and can stand further correction as far as taste is concerned, bring the sauce back to a full boil and continue reducing.
- Process (mount) with butter - or Monter au Beurre. This is also a fine finishing technique. The process of gradually whisking in cold pats of butter, a tablespoon at a time, into a hot sauce, is an widely used technique. It provides body, sheen, and a fabulous flavor-enhancer. Caution: This process can lead to a sauce 'breaking' and requires practice and patience.
- Thicken with starch. If the sauce is too thin, but cannot take any more reduction because it tastes just right as it is, do not hesitate to stablilize (lightly thicken) the sauce with a slurry of pure starch or some of your pre-made, refrigerated roux. For a slurry, dissolve the pure starch (arrowoot, potato, cornstarch) in a bit of cold stock or water. Turn the sauce down to a simmer and stir the slurry into the sauce until the latter thickens. Simmer, but do not boil and stir gently, do not whisk violently (any wild cuts through the starch molecules thin it down again). Pure starches are very variable in their thickening powers and very fickle in their reaction to heat.
Here's hoping you have had fun experimenting with stock-based sauces -- continue with Lisa's class on non stock-based sauces and the sky will be the limit!
Stock based Sauces - Unit 4 Day 4
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