Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 11


"It is the sauce that distinguishes a good chef. The Saucier is a soloist in the orchestra of a great kitchen."
-Fernand Point (1897-1955) 

Today was all about basic sauces. The foundation of French cuisine is based on five "mother sauces":

1.Bechamel Sauce 
2. Veloute
3. Espagnole Sauce 
4. Tomato Sauce
5. Hollandasie

Before you can understand the sauce you have to understand les liaisons (thickening) which is one of the three parts to a sauce. Every sauce has a liquid, a thickening agent, and seasoning.  In modern day cuisine we use reduction to get the right consistency but historically (and traditionally) the right consistency is reached by adding a thickening agent. There are a couple of options, including: 

Roux 
There are three types of roux: blank, blond, and burn (white, blond, or brown).  A roux is a cooked mixture of equal parts weight of flour and butter, oil, or any other fat. This agent is good for sauces that require a medium to long cooking time because you need that time to remove the taste of the raw flavor of flour. You can use a roux in hot or cold form- just make sure that the liquid you are adding to it is the opposite temperature (IE use cold roux with hot liquid). 

Beurre Manie
Literally "kneaded butter". This is an uncooked mixture of equal parts by weight of flour and butter used primarily for sauces with shorter cooking times, usually fish or seafood sauces. Beurre Manie is always whisked into hot liquid. 

Egg Yolk
Adds a silky finish to sauces and can be used in white and blond sauces. Egg yolks will begin to coagulate at 185 degrees F  so you must always incorporate off of the heat (unless you plan on tempering it first) and then never put back on heat. 

Starch
Refers to arrowroot, corn, potato, and rice flours. Also, cornstarch has become common due to low cost but it is much less stable and can lose it's thickening abilities if added to an acidic sauce or  if it's cooked for too long. Once you pick your starch you mix it with water to create what is called a "slurry" before adding into the sauce mixture. Starches add a certain translucence to sauces. 

Blood 
Used in old school, traditional dishes like game stew where the blood of the game is used to thicken the sauce. To prevent blood from coagulating it is usually mixed with vinegar, lemon juice, or cognac before being introduced to hot liquid. 

Reduction
This modern-day technique came about in the 20th century and is used to thicken sauces through evaporation. It also helps to concentrate the flavors in your sauce - cream or butter can also be added in this method

Question of the day?  
What is the difference between sauce and gravy?

A gravy is usually made from pan-drippings in a short amount of time and is much thicker than a sauce which takes much more cooking time and is made from a liquid, a thickening agent, and seasoning.

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