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Posts Tagged ‘reductions’

Friday was sauce day. After going over the “mother sauces” (among them are tomato, allemande, and veloutĂ©) we proceeded to make some of them, then used those to make other sauces; hence the term, “mother” sauce, a sauce from which other sauces derive.

Um, so I kind of missed the point of the class. The point of the class was to develop techniques and method…you know, like the point of going to culinary school. I kind of missed that. I was too focused purely on flavor. The most important thing to understand about sauces at this stage (day four) is the use of binding agents or liaison like using a roux (melted butter and flour), slurry (cold liquid and flour), or egg yolks to thicken and bind sauces. Binding is essential to consistency and my consistencies were almost all a little off.

So by the end of the day, we had made six sauces: a bound veal stock, a sauce espagnole (one of the mothers), a bĂ©chamel sauce, a white wine sauce with a fish stock base, a wine and mushroom sauce, and a port wine. I thought they all tasted anywhere from fine to good, in my opinion, but then again what do I know? I’m just a lowly student. I had to present the sauces to the assistant chef instructor, Chef L, to taste and check for consistency.

The most important were the last three which were the most complex and seasoned. Apparently my port wine sauce tasted of some mystery ingredient that Chef L. couldn’t pinpoint. She said it didn’t taste bad, but there was something strange in it that she hadn’t tasted in anyone else’s…um, great. Now is not exactly when I’m aiming to stand out. I’m not sure if this mystery flavor was because I used flour instead of corn starch in the slurry for the bound veal stock I made earlier and then used as the base for the port sauce. What a wonderful start.

I thought my white wine sauce tasted good, but realized too late that I hadn’t reduced it long enough. As I was straining it through the fine chinois (conical strainer) Chef M. walked by and said in his thick French accent, “It is too thin. You did not check the nappant, ah?” “I did!” I exclaimed. “It must have just…gone…away…?” I trailed off and sighed. Chef M. smiled enigmatically, turned to my station partner and said, “Do I look like I am convinced?” He then turned to me and repeated, “Do I look convinced?” I sheepishly answered, no and went back to straining the rest of my LOSER sauce. I brought it to Chef L. anyway and preemptively stated that I knew it wasn’t thick enough. She acknowledged that was true, asked me if I understood why, and I said yes. At least she said the seasoning was good.

For the record, nappant is when a sauce’s consistency’s is the correct thickness. You dip the back of a spoon in the sauce and run your finger through it. Your finger should create a clear streak through the sauce and the sauce should be so thick the path stays clear. If any sauce drips or dribbles down into the path, it’s too thin.

In reaction to that I then over reduced my wine and mushroom sauce. Despite that, Chef. L. said it had good seasoning. It was so damn frustrating! I’m just glad my sauce wasn’t the one held up in front of the class as a perfect example of burnt sauce. Chef M. encouraged us all to taste it with our fingers (which we’re normally NEVER allowed to do) since it wasn’t going to be put in the communal bucket of sauce to be used downstairs in the restaurant.

I’m trying to shake off my failures and focus on sharpening my knives this weekend (bought me a whetstone) and some more taillage practice. Sigh, I’ll tackle sauces again another day.

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