Friday, January 24, 2014

What we learned in culinary school this week: Week 3

This was sauce week. Mother sauces, reduction sauces, emulsified sauces and condiments.

There are five "Mother Sauces" and we need to memorize them. They are:

  • Bechamel
  • Veloute
  • Espagnole (brown sauce)
  • Tomate
  • Hollandaise

Hollandaise is the oddball in this group. The other sauces were created to be made in bulk. They can be refrigerated, then pulled out for use as needed. Hollandaise sauce, on the other hand, is high maintenance. You can't store it, it has to be made as needed. Which is a bummer, because I was hoping whip up a batch to take to my Mom to wean her off that crappy canned and bottled hollandaise she insists on buying in bulk.

All mother sauces (except of course for hollandaise) all use the same thickening agent: roux, which is made from equal parts all-purpose flour and clarified butter. A roux will thicken anything.

Speaking of clarified butter: You get about 60%-75% yield from clarification. Also, you can freeze clarified butter.

Always strain sauces.

Demi-glace is liquid gold.

When choosing a red wine for a reduction sauce, use a wine that is somewhat palatable and hasn't had sugar added (the school actually uses Charles Shaw, aka Two Buck Chuck, and our red wine reduction sauces made me fall in love all over again). If possible, use wine from the same region that your dish originated from.

You shouldn't spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine for cooking. If you use a $100 bottle of wine versus a $5 bottle of wine, the taste won't be 20 times better. The $100 bottle of wine will only taste about $10 better. Save the good stuff for drinking. Drinking wine is very different than cooking with wine.

Basic reduction sauce: 1 shallot minced, and 1 cup of wine. Reduce 50%-90%. Add 1 cup demi-glace, reduce to sauce consistency. Can do different amounts of wine/demi but should be 1 to 1 ratio. Can do 1/2 demi for thicker sauce. But wine, shallot and demi is the hat trick of reduction sauces.

Reduction = elimination of water through steam.

Then we moved on to emulsified sauces (mayonnaise, aioli, hollandaise) and learned that whisking makes your arm feel like it's going to fall off at the shoulder, especially when your aioli breaks and you have to do it again, plus you screw up your remoulade so you have to whisk up another batch of mayo on top of everything else.

Homemade mayo is isn't white like the stuff you buy at the store. It's yellowish in color due to the egg yolks and mustard.

"Garlic aioli" is redundant. Garlic is one of the ingredients in aioli.

Mother sauces galore.

Desired consistency of hollandaise, poured over
 a 1/2 lemon for demonstration.

Salsa verde.


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