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Sauces: Peterson VS. le Cordon Bleu


msacuisine
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In Sauces, James Peterson gives the impression that roux-based sauces have all but disappeared from modern restaurant kitchens, while Professional Cooking, le Cordon Bleu’s basic text, makes it sound as though it is still fundamental to restaurant practice, only once mentioning that the modern trend is towards less roux, nowhere mentioning the extreme reductions, coulis, or glace-based sauces or full-flavored broths that according to Peterson form the foundation of modern sauce making. They can’t both be right. I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this matter, especially from those working in high-end restaurants.

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Roux thicken sauces are dinosaurs and are almost never used in high end restaurant kitchens. There may be a FEW exceptions, but I honestly can't think if any off the top of my head.

Some places may still use roux for things like mac and cheese, souffle bases, some soups (chowders), gumbo, etc. But if you are talking about true fine dining, destination type restaurants I would say roux is probably never used, unless someone is making family meal or something.

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The restaurant I work at wouldn't be classed as fine dining( based in UK we hold 1AA rosette), and we don't use roux bases for anything, even something as simple as macaroni cheese for staff food would be made with cheese, wine, milk and cream. No flour for thickening just reducing.

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I agree with Matthew & Qwerty - I've seen very little roux happening, much more reductions and now MG thickeners. In pastry, I'm often more inclined to use an agar fluid gel than an extreme reduction. Sometimes you just want a lighter flavor, lighter dish. I recall seeing some roux in my first restaurant job 12 years ago, where the chef was a pretty old-school Swiss. Not in recent years in French, New American, or California cuisine in Seattle/SF. The gastropub I work at now has a roux-based cheese sauce to serve with pretzels.

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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All depends, I guess.

For meat based sauces, not much, although I do enjoy roux based turkey gravies made with turkey fat, and still make chix pot pies for my shop using a rendered chix fat roux based suace. But for demi's? No, not really.

That being said, it's hard to make a bechemel without a roux. If the Chef in the a'la carte kitchen is smart, he will have an insert of bechemel handy . It's perfect for a'la minute dishes like mushroom ragouts, or to thicken and quickly give body to some pan sauces.

And, of course, it is ideal for gratins. Think about gratins for a minute. If you blanch pot. slices in flavoured milk, then thicken the milk with roux, and return the pot slices, you have a gratin that won't split, has a far lower calorific value than a reduced cream base, and doesn't give you the ol' "lead balloon" feeling in your stomach like a cream based gratin would.

Roux also is a pretty good way to go for a lot of soups.

But not much really for meat based sauces

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Hi,

There are also the dinosaurs that insist a demi-glace has to begin with espagnole sauce.

Tim

I'm not really sure what you are trying to say...?

Classic, as in Escoffier, starts his demi-glace with espagnole sauce. IIRC, it was equal parts espagnole sauce and veal stock, reduced together to nappe. But I personally have never worked in a kitchen that utilized that method, and in fact, am only familiar with it through culinary school.

Even today, most things like a quick turkey gravy at thanksgiving are thickened using pure starches like cornstarch or arrowroot.

And I don't technically think you COULD make a bechemel without roux, as roux is a key part of the bechecmel sauce...no more than you could make a true espagnole without roux. I would also think that a bechemel sauce for a gratin would be too thick, and if properly made, the potato starch that leeches into the cream while cooking should be enough to hold a gratin together.

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I would also think that a bechemel sauce for a gratin would be too thick, and if properly made, the potato starch that leeches into the cream while cooking should be enough to hold a gratin together.

As my Culinary teacher would say, (translated into englisch)

"You can go and think in philosophy class. With me, you have to know"

A bechemel thickened gratin works quite well. Try it. You'll also find that you will get get good colouring when gratinaing even without cheese, as opposed to greasy bubbles when using a reduced cream base.

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Escoffier himself pointed the way beyond roux-based sauces:

It is only habit that causes flour to be still used as the binding element of roux, and, indeed, the hour is not so far distant when the advantages of the changes I propose will be better understood...

Even then he saw that alternative thickening agents would replace flour-based roux for some things. It only makes sense. And if I went to a restaurant and got a roux-based sauce for meat, fish, or veg, I'd be pretty surprised. In fact, in my short life I don't think I've ever been served a roux-based sauce (though there might be some mac and cheese in my past that would prove me wrong-that's the way I make it at home sometimes too).

nunc est bibendum...

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