Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Ethereal Sauces


Qwerty
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm curious to know tips and tricks from other chef's on how to make out of this world sauces. I think my sauces are good and sometimes great, but I can't help but think that they could be better. I'm specifically talking about things like stock (veal) based sauces and reductions.

Aside from the fundamentals things like having good stock (both chicken and veal) and using good ingredients like good wine, etc, what are some key things to making really ethereal sauces? Any cool trade secrets anyone would be willing to share? Secret ingredients?

I know there are probably discussions on sauce making throughout egullet, but I really wanted to discuss it chef-to-chef and on a professional level. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I add mushroom paste(shrooms + caraway seeds + olive oil to texture in a robocoupe) during the aromatic sweat to just about every brown sauce that I am going to strain.

Also any time you can roast veggies before you use them in a sauce it a good thing.

I'm looking forward to reading the responses in this thread

Edited by Smitty (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think the most important factors on the final quality of a veal stock is which bones you use and how well you brown them. Often people use whole chunks of bone to brown for the stock but I recommend cutting it down to a smaller size (around golf ball) and brown the bone well on every possible surface.

in culinary school we are always told to constantly skim the stock for fat and impurities, but what i've found in every professional kitchen ive worked in France is that they never skim stock. they let it cook with all of the impurities and fat and then cool it down and let it rest for a day or two after it is cold and all of the fat rises to the top, then they remove it. my chef use to say the fat adds a lot of flavor to the final sauce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think once you have a decent stock the key to a good sauce is reduction. Many good sauces take a bottle of wine and go down to a syrup for example, then reduce the stock too, cream too.

My red wine sauce is reduced by at least half with dried figs and honey, mixed with reduced stock.

I also try to look for enhancing ingredients for stock. Things with umami like mushrooms.

I brown the veggies in the hotel pan I used for the bones--if it's too dark then I just use the drippings and deglaze both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm trying to get away from a discussion about fundamentals. I feel like I've got the fundamentals down...so lets get past the "make a great veal stock" discussion and move on. Lets just assume that, all things being equal, we'll be starting with a great veal stock and good ingredients like wine, etc.

I want to know how they would make sauces at, say, a Michelin 2 or 3 star. I've been trained in several high standard, high end kitchens, so I have a good understanding of some things, but I would love some tips/tricks on what might make a sauce, as they say, "sing."

BTW, I might feel better if the only real difference in how I do it vs. how "they" do it is that they are using a $50 bottle of wine vs. my $10 bottle, though I suspect that isn't the only factor :)

Keep the replies coming everybody thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always found that adding a little bit of acidity to a sauce just before serving helps make it "sing". A few drops of sherry or red wine vinegar or just a few drops of lemon juice, depending on the sauce and what it is being served with, goes a long way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I also like to adjust the flavor profile just before service.

This can be done with great vinegar, cognac, vincotto, an herb stir, fat, or a separate reduction. It's basic sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami balance.

Twenty years ago I read a suggestion from Madeleine Kamman about tasting your sauce and the wine to be served. This will give you guidance on adjusting your flavor balance to achieve harmony in your dish. Seemed pretty reasonable and it works.

Tim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heston Blumenthal claims caramelizing (maillard-izing :raz:) onions with star anise enhances meaty flavors. I've tried it. I agree. It's a subtle thing but, once you've got beyond the basics and have a really good base to work with, subtle enhancements are the best anyway. You don't want to swing it away from what it is, you just want to see if it can be better.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no chef, but I've read that Eric Ripert adds a pinch of cayenne just before plating to many of his sauces, and not just spicy ones. He claims that it heightens all of the flavors but is undetectable when added in minute quantities.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no chef, but I've read that Eric Ripert adds a pinch of cayenne just before plating to many of his sauces, and not just spicy ones. He claims that it heightens all of the flavors but is undetectable when added in minute quantities.

Typically, ER discusses adding piment d'espelette - typically recommending cayenne if you can't get it... piment d'espelette is not as spicy as cayenne, but has a subtle smokiness.... he also adds a couple of drops of tabasco for the same reasons you discuss...

David Bouley says that most of his sauces now are based on juices rather than meat based stocks - he says he rarely uses meat based stocks anymore... now he uses mushroom water, or dashi, or other types of broths as bases and will thicken with a super-fine puree of shallots cooked for hours in redwine until dry then run through a tamis... or thickens with garlic treated in a similar way... he has moved away from thickening with roux or butter because it's not as healthy, and he feels that the fat coats your tongue and supresses more vibrant flavors...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second adding a small amount of acid (eg. sherry vinegar) just prior to serving. It lifts the whole sauce.

If the sauce needs a umami hit, try adding some powdered dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms. I powder them in a spice grinder and add the powder when needed to enhance the flavour profile and overall mouth feel.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Secret igredients?

Pigs feet. Split, blanched, and roasted with the rest of the mirepoix. A lot of gelatin in there, and more gelatin gives a much richer mouthfeel. Turkey wings and veal feet will do the same, but not as much gelatin.

Fat, to me, is a flavour robber. Anyone who has stored uncovered butter in the fridge knows it absorbs odours. Some Chefs store fresh truffles with chunks of butter in a sealed jar in order to get the flavour in there, then use the butter to mount sauces. Once place I worked in would cook whole crayfish in butter, use the crayfish for other things, but the butter would be saved and used for a'la minute sauces.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the best thing you can do for traditional brown sauces is to abandon using highly reduced stock as a sauce base.

I've heard people argue that this is the classical method, but it's not. Originally, glace de viande (veal stock reduced about 10 times) was used as a supplement, largely for texture and savor. The Nouvelle Cuisine movement substituted glace de viande for demi-glace, but not directly; it was part of a rethinking of sauces, whereby sauces were made with stocks and very flavorful essences, and were thickened with reduced cream and mounted, and rounded out with glace de viande.

Today in many mid-level restaurants, people are taught that glace de viande IS demi-glace, and as a result they make sauces that have all the trappings of a great sauce ... deep color, rich texture, good clarity, good roasted flavors ... but that lack the essential, three dimensional flavors of meat jus. This is because long reduction, while concentrating large flavor molecules like sugars and acids, boils off all the aromatic molecules that give a sauce depth, dimension, and character.

Many chefs today are getting away from overreduced stock in interesting ways. A way I like, which Alain Ducasse has taught to many chefs, is to start with a veal bone stock, and slowly reduce it while adding multiple immersions of meaty bones and meat trimmings, using meat of the type you'd like to use to flavor the sauce. Beef, vennison, lamb, or whatever. It's a hybrid technique, part 19th century classical, part 21st century scientific and frugal, part 18th century exhorbidant.

It makes the best brown sauces I've tasted, although i haven't yet managed the level of clarity I've gotten from other less tasty approaches.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A way I like, which Alain Ducasse has taught to many chefs, is to start with a veal bone stock, and slowly reduce it while adding multiple immersions of meaty bones and meat trimmings, using meat of the type you'd like to use to flavor the sauce. Beef, vennison, lamb, or whatever.

This is how I make stock usually, but I picked it up from James Beard, who suggests poaching a whole chicken in a batch of chicken stock on the second day to strengthen it. I do the same with beef, and I'll use the poached chicken or beef for some other purpose and throw the bones back into the pot to extract more flavor and gelatin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is how I make stock usually, but I picked it up from James Beard, who suggests poaching a whole chicken in a batch of chicken stock on the second day to strengthen it.  I do the same with beef, and I'll use the poached chicken or beef for some other purpose and throw the bones back into the pot to extract more flavor and gelatin.

Beard's method is really old school. If you're making sauce for one of the kings of France, just take it a bit farther: poach another chicken in the resulting stock. And then another. What to do with all those chickens? Feed the staff. Or the dogs! His majesty's picking up the tab.

The method gets economical for restaurants by substituting good quality trimmings from any butchery you do. At home, if you don't want to be up to your eyeballs in poached chickens, you can substitute some meaty, well de-fatted roast chicken carcasses, and maybe a package of chx thighs from the supermarket.

A lot of chefs are exploring the possibilities of sous vide bags for sauce making. You can slow poach something like duck thighs or a capon in some stock in a vacuum bag. The juices that fortify the stock will make it amazing. I don't have the toys I'd need for this, but I'd like to give it a whirl.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of chefs are exploring the possibilities of sous vide bags for sauce making. You can slow poach something like duck thighs or a capon in some stock in a vacuum bag. The juices that fortify the stock will make it amazing. I don't have the toys I'd need for this, but I'd like to give it a whirl.

In the same line of thinking, what if you used osmazome that's been heated to coagulate proteins and then strained - the resulting liquid is VERY flavorful... lately, I've been taking the extra 5 minutes when doing things sous vide to save the osmazome, pouring into a small cup, microwaving for 20 seconds, then straining and using to enhance the sauce... works very well...

It has even been discussed somewhere on the eG (probably the sous vide thread) of getting some cheap meat, and cooking it just for the osmazome....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beard's method is really old school. If you're making sauce for one of the kings of France, just take it a bit farther: poach another chicken in the resulting stock. And then another. What to do with all those chickens? Feed the staff. Or the dogs! His majesty's picking up the tab.

'Sokay, I'm down with old skool. I also make demi glace from Espagnole and veal stock.

For the amount I make, it's not hard to use the poached chicken. It goes into chicken salad, pot pies, ravioli and such. Stock always generates several related meals. It's been a cool rainy day, so I have an 18 quart pot of chicken stock on the fire right now. Considering that I have other kinds of stock in the freezer, that should be enough for 2-3 months. I usually make a batch of some kind of stock every month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no chef, but I've read that Eric Ripert adds a pinch of cayenne just before plating to many of his sauces, and not just spicy ones. He claims that it heightens all of the flavors but is undetectable when added in minute quantities.

I'm no chef either, but I've found this to be true in more than sauces. A friend's recipe for sauteed mushrooms - as you'd serve alongside a steak, for instance - is to saute the mushrooms in butter, then when they start to soften, add any wine and a pinch of hot pepper flakes, along with salt and black pepper, and let most of the wine simmer away.

OK, so the first time I did it, I did it her way. The second time, I simply forgot to add the pepper flakes, and noticed a huge difference in flavor. The dish was extremely bland. I've remembered the pepper flakes ever since, and I've never detected that flavor, or any heat, in the finished dish.

Edited by jgm (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no chef, but I've read that Eric Ripert adds a pinch of cayenne just before plating to many of his sauces, and not just spicy ones. He claims that it heightens all of the flavors but is undetectable when added in minute quantities.

I'm no chef either, but I've found this to be true in more than sauces. A friend's recipe for sauteed mushrooms - as you'd serve alongside a steak, for instance - is to saute the mushrooms in butter, then when they start to soften, add any wine and a pinch of hot pepper flakes, along with salt and black pepper, and let most of the wine simmer away.

OK, so the first time I did it, I did it her way. The second time, I simply forgot to add the pepper flakes, and noticed a huge difference in flavor. The dish was extremely bland. I've remembered the pepper flakes ever since, and I've never detected that flavor, or any heat, in the finished dish.

That's hilarius--I do the same thing with my morning oatmeal to get the flavors to come out a little clearer. Came upon the idea purely from a SWAG.

It does taste better that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oatmeal??? Who'da thunk it???

I'll have to try it.

As much fascination as I find with this topic, I would have to say that many sauce secrets may depend on the flavors in each particular sauce. But keep the comments coming, anyway. This is great!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I also like to adjust the flavor profile just before service. 

This can be done with great vinegar, cognac, vincotto, an herb stir, fat, or a separate reduction.  It's basic sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami balance.

Twenty years ago I read a suggestion from Madeleine Kamman about tasting your sauce and the wine to be served.  This will give you guidance on adjusting your flavor balance to achieve harmony in your dish.  Seemed pretty reasonable and it works.

Tim

I love this tip! I am going to go make a sauce right now :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Talked with a friend this morning about the cayenne thing. She said that she's attended classes at several cooking schools, and the woman from whom she learned the basics about sauces, always had "SPNC" at the bottom of each recipe, which stood for Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg and Cayenne.

I would enjoy comments from more experienced sauce makers about what they think of this. Are there times you would not want to use those ingredients? The nutmeg and cayenne, of course, are added in small amounts, not enough to stand out in a sauce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a sauce I know, but I also put a pinch of Cayenne into my fruit pies and chocolate desserts also

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...