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Techniques - Sauces

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Sauces

Make hollandaise

A well-made hollandaise sauce should have a rich yellow color, and be somewhat tart, and fluffy

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp water, and 1 tbsp of lightly crushed, white peppercorns to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 minute, or until the mixture has reduced by one-third.

Remove from the heat, and let stand until cool, then strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl. Add 4 egg yolks to the liquid, and whisk.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (The water should be filled to just below the bottom of the bowl.) Whisk the mixture until the sauce thickens, and is ribbonlike, creamy, and smooth in texture, 5–6 minutes.

Place the bowl on a dampened dish towel to prevent it from slipping. In a thin stream, slowly pour in 9oz (250g) clarified butter, and whisk until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Gently whisk in the juice of half a lemon, then season to taste with salt, freshly ground white pepper, and cayenne pepper. Serve immediately. This recipe will make 21/2 cups.


Make a classic vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is about balance of ingredients: it should flavor and complement a salad or other dish, but never dominate it

In a clean bowl, combine 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp good-quality white wine vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper.

Gradually whisk in1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a thin stream until completely emulsified. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve as a salad dressing, or in place of a heavier sauce for fish, poultry, or pasta. This recipe will make 2/3 cup of dressing.


Vinaigrette variations

A simple variation to this classic recipe is to use the juice of 1 lemon, or a good-quality balsamic, champagne, or rice wine vinegar. Or, add fresh herbs or fruit. Other great flavor additions are shallots, garlic, and truffles. Transform vinaigrette into other dressings by adding additional ingredients to classic vinaigrette: orange and rosemary–orange zest and juice, and chopped rosemary; honey and ginger–mild honey and grated fresh ginger.


Make mayonnaise

Emulsified sauces turn out better when all ingredients are brought to room temperature before using

Place 2 egg yolks, 1tsp Dijon mustard and 1tsp white wine vinegar in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground white (preferably) or black pepper.

Steady the bowl on a dampened dish towel and gradually add 1 cup vegetable or canola oil - drop by drop to begin with, then a drizzle, and then a thin stream, as the sauce begins to thicken, whisking continuously.

As the sauce begins to thicken, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, and continue whisking to keep the emulsion stable.

When all the oil has been incorporated, and the mayonnaise is smooth and thick, stir in 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice and adjust the seasoning to taste. This recipe makes 11/4 cups .


Rescue curdled mayonnaise

When mayonnaise separates into coagulated flecks of egg and oil, it has curdled. This can happen for many reasons. The most likely causes are: the egg yolks or the oil were too cold; the mixing bowl was not clean; the oil was added too quickly; or too much oil was added.

The mayonnaise can easily be rescued. Simply place 1 egg yolk into a clean mixing bowl, and very slowly, trickle in the curdled mayonnaise, whisking continuously.

Continue whisking in the curdled mixture until it is all incorporated, and very smooth.


Mayonnaise-based sauces

Classic mayonnaise is the basis of many emulsified sauces.

To make aioli, add 4 crushed garlic cloves to the egg yolks, then continue following the recipe. Serve with hot or cold fish, or as a dip for vegetables.

To make rouille, add a pinch of saffron and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to the finished aioli. This is traditionally served with the Mediterranean fish soup, bouillabaisse.

To make tartare sauce, add 1tsp Dijon mustard, 2 1/2 tbsp finely chopped gherkins, 2tbsp rinsed and chopped capers, 2 tbsp chopped chervil, and 2 finely chopped shallots to the finished mayonnaise. Serve with deep-fried, or pan-fried fish.


Make béchamel sauce

Endlessly versatile, béchamel (the king of white sauces), has been used for many years in classic cooking

Stick 4 whole cloves into a small onion, cut in half. Place in a saucepan with 21/2 cups whole milk and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then allow the milk to cool for 20 minutes.

Melt 4 tbsp unsalted butter over low heat in a separate pan. Whisk in 4 tbsp flour and cook gently about 1minute until it becomes a pale yellow roux.

Remove the pan from the heat. Strain the milk into the roux, and whisk vigorously until the sauce is smooth. Return the pan to medium heat, still whisking, until the sauce thickens, and comes to a boil, about 4–5 minutes.

Reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 5 minutes until smooth, thick, and glossy. Season to taste with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. This recipe makes 21/2 cups.


Clarify butter

The clear liquid fat separates from the milk solids when gently heated, and can be used for sauces and higher-temperature cooking

Cut unsalted butter into cubes and place in a saucepan. Heat gently over low heat just until the milk solids have separated from the fat. Do not let the butter get too dark, as that will destroy its fresh taste. Skim off any froth.

Remove from the heat, and carefully pour the clear butter into a bowl. Discard the milk solids. Skim off any impurities from the surface of the clarified butter, and use as desired.


Make fresh tomato sauce

This simple, yet versatile sauce, is perfect with fish, poultry, meat, and vegetables

In a saucepan over low heat, place 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 chopped shallots, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 bay leaf, and 3 crushed garlic cloves. Cover and sweat for 5–6 minutes until shallots are soft, but not brown.

Seed and chop 21/4lb (1kg) of ripe plum tomatoes, and add them to the pan with 2 tbsp tomato paste and 1 tbsp sugar. Cook, uncovered for 5 minutes, then add 1 cup water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Using a ladle, press the sauce through a sieve. Reheat the sauce before serving. This recipe makes 21/2 cups.


Sauce variations

For a heartier, rustic sauce, remove the bay leaf, but do not strain. Add fresh thyme before serving. Also try adding freshly chopped basil or oregano. If you would like to add a spicy kick to your sauce, add a chopped fresh hot chile, or hot pepper flakes.


Make stock

A homemade stock is one of the most valuable ingredients you can have in your kitchen


Chicken or meat stock

Add either raw chicken bones or roasted meat bones into a large stockpot with carrots, celery, onions, and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs of your choice.

Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1–3 hours, skimming frequently. Ladle the stock through a fine sieve and season to taste. Let cool and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

After the stock has been refrigerated, the congealed fat can easily be lifted from the surface with a slotted spoon.

Quick Skimming Fold a double-thick paper towel and pass it through the surface of the hot stock; the paper towel will absorb the fat.


Fish stock

Using a sharp knife, cut the bones and trimmings of non-oily, mild fish into equal pieces. Rinse in plenty of cold water to remove the blood. Drain, and place the bones and trimmings into a large stockpot.

Cut carrots, celery, and onion into equal-size pieces, and add them (and any other flavorings you wish to add), into the pan with the fish. Cover with water, increase the heat, and bring to a boil.

Once the stock reaches a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes (any longer and the stock will start to become bitter). Skim off the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon.

Ladle the stock through a fine sieve, pressing the solids against the sieve with the ladle to extract any extra liquid. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, let cool, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Vegetable stock

Place chopped carrots, celery, onion, and a leeks into a large stockpot. Add peppercorns, parsley, and bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for up to 1 hour.

Ladle the stock through a fine sieve, pressing the vegetables against the sieve to extract any extra liquid. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, let cool, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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