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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Sauces/Rubs/Marinades

PRODUCT: Bill’s Best BBQ Sauce

The sauce is delicious, and a percentage of
sales do some good in the world. Photo
courtesy Bill’s Best BBQ Sauce.

 

Barbecue sauce is the number one product we receive over the transom. Living in an apartment with no outdoor space to barbecue, it’s not a product we used much—until it started to arrive in droves a few years ago.

The majority of the products we taste are perfectly fine, but not special enough to write about. Most are made from ketchup or tomato paste, vinegar, a sweetener (often high fructose corn syrup—HFCS), salt, onion powder and other spices (including cayenne or other chile), molasses and maybe some mustard.

Then Bill’s BBQ Sauce showed up.

Bill Fehon created the “secret family recipe” for what is now Bill’s Best Original Organic BBQ Sauce in the early 1990s. He gave jars to family and friends. The sweet and tangy flavor, combined with a mild kick, says Bill’s family, appealed to everyone.

Unfortunately, in the fall of 2009, Bill was diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration and was no longer able to do everyday tasks like making the sauce.

 

In his honor, his family now makes it and donates 10% of the profit to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. Learn more at BillsBestBBQ.com.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive food gift that combines the spirit of generosity, consider this delicious barbecue sauce. Even if there were no story of hope, the sauce stands on its own.

As an organic product, it’s made with quality ingredients and has no HFCS.

An 18-ounce bottle is $6.99, with discounts for multiple orders, on Amazon.com:

  • Original, which has a gentle kick
  • Spicy
  •  
    Find more of our favorite barbecue sauces and recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Parsnip Chips

    Parsnip: the new snack chip. Photo and
    recipe courtesy Actifry.

     

    Earlier this year, we wrote about the new healthy chip craze, nutritious kale chips.

    Will the next hot snack be parsnip chips? These root vegetables, cousins of carrots, are popular in soups and stews. But they also lend their honeyed sweetness to a crunchy snack chip.

    Full of fiber, folate, manganese, potassium and vitamins C and K, parsnips are healthy, filling and surprising “gourmet.”

    If you have an ActiFry, you need very little oil to make the chips. Alternatively, you can bake the chips in the oven,* use a Mastrad chip maker in the microwave, or fry them in the conventional (but less healthy) manner.

    Parsnip chips can also be served as a side vegetable, with or without the dip. We sprinkled ours with a touch of sea salt and chopped fresh parsley or rosemary.

    *Baked parsnip chips: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the parsnips and coat in olive oil and spices (chile powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, other favorites). Place on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until crispy. Toss the chips halfway through to ensure even cooking.

    RECIPE: PARSNIP CHIPS AND MAPLE MUSTARD DIP

    Ingredients

  • 2 parsnips, washed but not peeled
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (also available in whole grain brown rice flour)
  • 1 scoop olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Slice the parsnips very thinly, preferably with a mandoline slicer. The thinner the slices, the crisper the chips.
    2. Toss the parsnip slices with the rice flour in a bowl.

    3. Add the olive oil and parsnips to the ActiFry and cook for about 35 minutes, or until brown and mostly crisp.

    MAPLE DIP RECIPE

    The creamy maple mustard dip is lighter and has less saturated fat than rich sour cream based dips

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lowfat mayonnaise
  •  

    Preparation

    Whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, olive oil and mayonnaise, until creamy and well combined. Serve dip with parsnip chips.

    The sweetness of the maple syrup complements the sweetness of the parsnips, but if you can use your favorite tangy dip or salsa.

    FOOD TRIVIA

    Parsnips originated in the Mediterranean basin. Wild parsnips were the size of baby carrots. The Roman brought the parsnip north through Europe, finding that the farther north they were planted, the bigger the root vegetable grew.

    Parsnips are members of the taproot (true root) family, a group of plants whose roots are eaten as vegetables. The family also includes beet, black salsify, burdock, carrot, celeriac, daikon and radish, rutabaga and turnip, among others.

    Find more of our favorite savory snacks and vegetables.

     

    Freshly harvested parsnips. Photo © Uros Petrovic | Fotolia.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Nonna Iole’s Soffritto

    Soffritto is a mixture of minced vegetables and aromatic herbs cooked in extra virgin olive oil. The name means “fry slowly,” although you might think of it as “yummy flavor.”

    This healthful cooking ingredient enhances the flavor of many everyday dishes, and is waiting to be your new best friend in the kitchen. The basic recipe combines carrots, celery, garlic, onions, salt and sometimes a splash of white wine vinegar.

    You can make your own soffritto and store it in the fridge (we’ve included the recipe in the full review). Or you can buy a jar of Nonna Iole’s Soffritto. It’s a quick, easy and delicious solution to amping up your food. It’s also a nice party favor, stocking stuffer and small ”thank you” gift.

    In fact, you can buy boxed gift sets as well as individual jars on the company website. You’ll also find a store locator.

    Check out the full review.

     

    Soffritto: Your new friend in the kitchen. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: La Pan’s Gourmet BBQ Sauce

    The number one product we receive over the transom (unsolicited) is barbecue sauce. We get so much, that we joke that aliens from another planet who happen into THE NIBBLE offices would think that earthlings live on barbecue sauce.

    On a less jocular note, most of the barbecue sauces sent to us are simplistic recipes of what we pejoratively call “meat sugar”: ketchup (there’s already plenty of it in the ketchup), more sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and some onion and garlic powder that aren’t strong enough to cut through the sweetness.

    Every now and then, we receive a barbecue sauce that we enjoy. It has complex flavors and a smaller dose of sweeteners.

    So it was a good day when a box of samples from Le Pan’s arrived.

    All natural La Pan barbecue sauces have more layering of flavors than we’ve seen just about anywhere.

     

    Spicy and regular barbecue sauces hit the spot. Photo courtesy La Pan’s.

     

    Prior to developing his own line, Jon La Pan of Ladera Ranch, California was a foodie who liked to tinker with recipes to turn them into his vision of perfection. When he started to make barbecue sauce, his goal was “…to help anyone…turn a $5 piece of meat into a $50 steak.”

    As tasty as the sauces may be, they won’t tenderize a $5 flank steak into anything resembling a $50 strip steak; but the sauces will taste good on just about anything.

    Enjoy them with meat, poultry, hearty fish or tofu. Jon Le Pan uses them as a bread dipper, too. We prefer them with fries, instead of ketchup.

    Foundation Gourmet BBQ Sauce

    The first four ingredients in this barbecue sauce, are common to many recipes: water, tomato paste, sugar and brown sugar, along with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper and vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and yellow mustard. More complex sauces add ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, molasses and natural smoke flavor. Spicy versions add cayenne pepper, chipotle and other chiles and hot pepper sauce,

    But La Pan’s further layers on celery salt, cinnamon, coffee, cumin, honey, lemon juice concentrate, maple syrup, oregano, turmeric, and and raspberry juice concentrate.

    That’s a lot of measuring, but the result is worth it.

    Fiery Fusion BBQ Sauce

    An excellent balance of fruit and medium heat, this sauce makes things interesting with the addition of apricot, mango, pineapple and habanero. Many spicy sauces just ratchet up the spice level on the basic sauce.

    Don’t choose: try both. A 16-ounce bottle is $8.00 at LaPans.com.

    The company also makes seasoning and Bloody Mary mix.

    Find more of our favorite barbecue sauces.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make Barbecue Sauce From Scratch

     

    There’s so much over-sugared barbecue sauce for sale; we wonder why people don’t make their own. It’s easy and more nutritious—and it costs less, too. You eliminate the high fructose corn syrup and can moderate the level of sweetener you do use (agave, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup).

    Your homemade sauce uses other superior ingredients, as well: sautéed fresh onions and garlic instead of onion and garlic powders, and crushed tomatoes instead of ketchup.

    This video shows just one basic recipe; but if you like the results, you can make hundreds of variations, incorporating your favorite flavors—mustard, vinegar, horseradish, the works.

    For expert guidance, pick up a copy of Steve Raichlen’s Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes.

    But start with the simple recipe below. You can make it today with ingredients you already have in the kitchen.

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Secondary Sauces, Part 3, Demi-Glace

    Become a sauce master: Here’s Part 3 of chef Johnny Gnall’s tutorial on the secondary sauces. Start at the beginning with:

  • The Five Mother Sauces
  • Secondary Sauces: Bearnaise and Creole
  • Secondary Sauces: Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Sauce Suprême
  •  
    If you have questions or suggestions for other tips, email Chef Johnny.

    ESPAGNOLE SAUCE BECOMES DEMI-GLACE

    Demi-glace (pronounced DEH-me GLAHS) is a rich brown sauce that is often served with beef, lamb and pork. The term comes from the French word glace, which means icing or glaze (among other things, including ice and ice cream); demi means half. Demi-glace is thicker and contains more gelatin than espagnole alone, so it has more body.

  • Demi-glace is traditionally made by combining equal parts veal stock or other brown stock and the mother sauce, espagnole.
  • Then reduce the liquid by half and strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
  •  

    A Berkshire pork chop atop a demi-glace sauce. Photo courtesy AllenBrothers.com.

     

    Marchand De Vin Sauce

    A variation of demi-glace is sauce marchand de vin (marchand de vin is French for wine merchant), which, not surprisingly, includes wine.

  • Combine 3/4 cup red wine and one minced shallot; reduce by three fourths.
  • Whisk in a quart of demi-glace; reduce, simmer and season to your liking.
  •  
    You now have a sauce that is perfect for pretty much any meat you can cook up!

    Beyond the myriad classic sauces that stem from espagnole sauce, I am always up for some boundary crossing between cuisines—otherwise known as fusion food. I am a big fan of taking this classic French sauce and bringing it down to Mexico.

    Mole Sauce

    By adding a little cocoa powder and very little chile powder to a quart of espagnole sauce, you turn it into variety of mole sauce.

  • Start with 2 tablespoons cocoa and 2 teaspoons chile powder; add both in small doses to the sauce until you achieve your liking. Depending on how much you use, cocoa has a distinct and earthy flavor that can exist in the background or take over the stage (so bear that in mind as you add it).
  • You can also sweeten the sauce to your liking. I suggest using palm sugar or brown sugar, as sweeteners with color often have a bit of character that can add another bit of complexity to the sauce. Just remember to always add ingredients in small amounts and taste often in order to get the flavor profile just right. Reduce at a simmer if you’d like to thicken your sauce or intensify the flavors, season with a pinch or two of salt, and you’re ready to go.
  •  
    This variation of mole is not precisely the traditional Mexican procedure, but nobody will be complaining.

    My mom, who grew up in Mexico, serves her mole sauce with lamb chops and mashed potatoes.

  • Whip some goat cheese into the mashed potatoes.
  • Marinate the lamb chops with some sherry vinegar: The tartness on the lamb chop alongside the creamy mashed potatoes, all drizzled with that sweet, earthy sauce, comes together like a symphony in your mouth.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Secondary Sauces, Part 2, Cheddar Cheese Sauce & Sauce Suprême

    Become a sauce master: Here’s Part 2 of chef Johnny Gnall’s tutorial on the secondary sauces. Start at the beginning with:

  • The Five Mother Sauces
  • Secondary Sauces: Béarnaise and Creole
  •  
    If you have questions or suggestions for other tips, email email Chef Johnny.

    BÉCHAMEL SAUCE BECOMES CHEDDAR CHEESE SAUCE

    It’s easy to make a robust Cheddar cheese sauce from a base of creamy, delicate béchamel (BAY-sha-mell) sauce. Just stir the following ingredients into one quart of béchamel:

  • 8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  •  

    Rich, creamy Cheddar cheese sauce. Photo courtesy AztecaFoods-Europe.com.

     

    In addition to saucing proteins, starches and vegetables—and making a superior macaroni and cheese—it’s phenomenal for dipping hot pretzel nuggets at parties: A crowd tends to form around the bowl.

    Bacon Béchamel.
    If you believe, as I do, that bacon makes everything better, you can go big and cook some bacon to add to the béchamel (finely chopped). Or you can whisk in bacon fat that you’ve previously reserved (I always save the drippings when I cook bacon and store them in a small plastic container that I keep on the shelf of my fridge).

  • If you’re adding bacon to your béchamel, go lighter on the salt, as bacon has plenty of its own.
  • If you know in advance that you’re going to make a bacon béchamel, start your roux with bacon, similar to the first step of making tomato sauce. Just render the bacon on medium heat until crispy, then begin to stir in flour to make the roux, and continue with the béchamel as usual. You may need to supplement with a little butter if you run short on bacon fat and want to create more béchamel.
  •  

    Roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes and
    fiddlehead ferns on a bed of sauce suprême.
    Photo by JohnHerschell | Wikimedia.jpg

     

    VELOUTÉ SAUCE BECOMES SAUCE SUPRÊME
    (SUPREME SAUCE)

    Sauce suprême is a very rich sauce that adds cream to chicken velouté. It’s the perfect “luxury” sauce for roast chicken or pork. One chef we know calls it “the most upscale gravy.”

  • Reduce the velouté by a fourth at a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Temper a pint of cream in a bowl. To do this, whisk a bit of the hot velouté into the cream to bring its temperature up. Then add it slowly to the simmering velouté.
  • Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.
  •  

    Variations

  • Mushrooms. To make the sauce even more exciting, turn it into mushroom sauce by adding 4 ounces of sliced white/button mushrooms that have been sautéed in butter. If you add a tablespoon of lemon juice while sautéing the mushrooms, they will stay whiter and make your sauce that much more attractive.
  • Caramelized Onions. I like to add sweetness to a sauce suprême with caramelized onions (how to caramelize onions). Cook the onions to their sweetest, brownest, softest point (think French onion soup consistency) and stir them into the sauce along with any excess liquid in the pan. Then use an immersion blender (or countertop blender) to purée them into smoothness. Between the richness of the cream, the sweetness of the onions, and the depth of flavor from the reduced stock, you end up with a unique and complex sauce that works well with any number of proteins, starches and vegetables.
     
    There’s one more mother sauce/secondary sauce tip to go. Tune in tomorrow.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mother Sauces Part 2, The Secondary Sauces

    Turn plain tomato sauce into Creole sauce.
    Photo by Andrew Bossi | Wikimedia.

     

    Earlier this week we introduced the five mother sauces, noting that each was the base for many other secondary sauces.

    Today, chef Johnny Gnall explains how the secondary sauces are made. Email Chef Johnny with questions or suggestions for other cooking topics.

    At some point in your mastery of Escoffier’s five mother sauces, they need to be taken to the next level. Yes, tomato sauce is versatile, and a luscious, creamy béchamel is quite heavenly. But at some point you’ll yearn for variety. In the words of Emeril, it’s time to “kick things up a notch.”

    Each mother sauce has a “menu” of secondary sauces, many of which can be created by adding only a few additional ingredients.

     

    The results include recent additions as well as classics that date back as far as the mother sauces themselves. Purists may follow a set of rules for what you can and can’t add to certain sauces for fear of “corrupting their integrity,” but let’s be frank: In your kitchen, you’re the boss.

    For the next three days, we’ll focus on two “secondary sauces” for each mother sauce, starting with a quart of mother sauce as your base. The first will be a classic secondary sauce, straight from Escoffier; the second will be my own creation or suggestion. Hopefully these suggestions will act as a jumping-off point for you to create your own sauces and dishes based on whatever it is that you like.

    TOMATO SAUCE BECOMES CREOLE SAUCE

    Creole sauce is an easy variation made with tomato sauce. You’ll be surprised at how some bell pepper can change the flavor profile of the original mother sauce. Creole sauce is delicious with chicken, fish/seafood, rice and pasta.

    1. Dice half an onion, a stalk of celery and a bell pepper. Sauté them in oil along with a teaspoon of minced garlic.

    2. Once the vegetables are soft, add a quart of tomato sauce, a bay leaf, a pinch of dried thyme and a teaspoon of lemon zest.

    3. Simmer for 15 minutes, then season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

    Variation #2: Tomato Vegetable Sauce

    I like to build on tomato sauce simply by adding whatever seasonal vegetables I have on hand. Pretty much anything, from artichoke hearts to eggplant to zucchini, can be cleaned, diced and dropped in to simmer in the sauce. Frozen vegetables work just as well.

    Freezing separate portions of the plain sauce gives you many opportunities to put a new spin on it. You can make a gallon or more of tomato sauce at once, then freeze portions in quart or even pint containers. At dinnertime, just pull one out, toss it into a pot with a little water, get it simmering and add the vegetables.

    Serve with pasta, chicken or fish as a sauce; or even with a crusty chunk of bread—the sauce acts as a soup.

     

    HOLLANDAISE SAUCE BECOMES BÉARNAISE
    SAUCE

    Béarnaise is a more complex form of hollandaise. The key difference is in the flavoring: Hollandaise is seasoned with lemon juice while béarnaise includes shallot and tarragon with vinegar instead of lemon juice. It is named after the province of Béarn, on the southwest border of France. Unlike tomato sauce and other sauces, hollandaise/béarnaise is delicate and can’t be frozen.

    While hollandaise is popular with Eggs Benedict, asparagus, brussels sprouts and other green vegetables, béarnaise is typically served with steak and seafood. However, they are interchangeable, depending upon the flavors you’re looking for.

    1. Combine 1 minced shallot, 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of white wine, 2 teaspoons of dried tarragon and a pinch of salt and pepper in a saucepan. Reduce the mixture by three fourths.

     

    Tarragon distinguishes béarnaise from hollandaise sauce. Photo courtesy Wizard Recipes.

     

    2. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool for a minute, then add 12 egg yolks to the mixture and beat well. (Use the whites for omelets, Baked Alaska, lemon meringue pie or meringue cookies.) Continue beating over a bain-marie in the same way as you did with hollandaise.

    3. Finish by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped parsley and a teaspoon of dried tarragon. Then, as long as you’re not cutting back on cholesterol, go all out and serve your béarnaise slathered over a nice big cut of filet mignon.

    Variation #2: Spicy Hollandaise Sauce

    Hollandaise is a great vehicle for spice, due to its richness; the texture and buttery flavor helps to soften serious heat and creates a pleasing warmth all over your palate. However, fat also conducts flavor, so a little spice goes a long way.

    You can keep it simple and kick up the amount of Tabasco-type hot sauce you use to season, or you can branch out: Sriracha, sambal and other hot sauces and chile pastes all work beautifully. Just whisk them into your finished sauce, adding a teaspoon or so at a time until you reach the desired heat level and consistency.

    Remember that hollandaise can be delicate, so too much of any one ingredient can cause it to break. To maintain the consistency of the sauce, you can substitute finely minced chiles, such as jalapeño and serrano. For the most heat, include the seeds and membrane, which contain the most capsaicin (the chemical that provides the heat).

    TOMORROW: Secondary sauces for béchamel and velouté sauces.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Love Your Mother Sauces

    What are the “mother sauces?” Today’s tip, from chef Johnny Gnall, explains them and sets you on the path to making each one. This article continues with part 2, the secondary sauces made from the mother sauces. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, contact JohnnyGnall@hotmail.com.

    When Georges Auguste Escoffier* laid the foundation for French cooking that would become so significant for modern cuisine, a cornerstone of that foundation was what he called the “mother sauces.”

    These five sauces are the basis for virtually every sauce in Escoffier’s arsenal, and their applications are no less relevant today.

    If you can perfect the five mother sauces, you can take them in any flavor direction you choose, from Asia to Africa to Scandinavia, simply by adjusting the flavors and seasonings you choose to add to them. The techniques are classic French, but the sauces themselves are versatile enough to work with whatever you’re cooking for dinner.

     

    Eggs Benedict topped with hollandaise sauce. Photo courtesy American Egg Board.

     

    *Escoffier, 1846-1935, was one of the most important figures in the development of modern French cuisine. A chef, restaurateur and culinary writer, Escoffier simplified and modernized the ornate haute cuisine style of the great French chef Antoine Carême (1784-1833). Escoffier’s book, Le Guide Culinaire, is still used as a major reference work by chefs and culinary students.

    Each mother sauce is comprised of two basic parts: a liquid and a thickening agent. Each sauce has its variations and additional ingredients, but the liquid and thickener are the important parts. So without further ado, allow me to introduce the five mother sauces.

    Tomato Sauce

    This is probably the most familiar of the mother sauces, and one you have eaten with pasta or meatloaf more than a few times. To make it:

  • Begin by rendering 4 ounces of salty cured pork: bacon, pancetta, pork belly, whatever you have to work with. (You can skip this step and use olive oil to eliminate calories and cholesterol, but you won’t get the same roundness and depth of flavor in the finished product.)
  • Once the pork is rendered and crispy, add 2 cups of diced carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper, and sweat them until soft. Add a quarter cup of flour and stir to incorporate until you have a roux† consistency (see thickeners).
  • Next, add a quart of chopped tomatoes, a quart of water, and a tablespoon of tomato purée, then stir and simmer.
  •  
    The seasonings vary depending on whom you ask, but they usually include some combination of bay leaf, garlic, oregano, thyme or other herbs, plus some sugar (though purists may argue staunchly against this). Don’t forget to season your sauce with salt and pepper as you go, and taste it often as it simmers. If it needs more of something, add it!

    †A roux, pronounced rue, is a paste made of softened butter and flour that is used to thicken sauces, soups, stews and ragouts.

     

    Perhaps the most popular of the mother sauces: tomato sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    Hollandaise Sauce

    You may know it best from Eggs Benedict at Sunday brunch, but hollandaise (HOLL-un-days) is actually the basis for a number of sauces, Bearnaise being one of the more notable. As it is egg-based, it’s definitely the richest of the mother sauces, which also seems to make it the most luxurious. Hence, it is a favored presence in lavish or celebratory dishes.

  • To start, put together a double boiler, or bain-marie, by setting a metal bowl over a pot half full of water, set to a simmer (not a boil). The steam from the simmering water heats the bowl gently, allowing you to cook the eggs more slowly and carefully than you’d be able to do over a direct flame. If specificity is your thing, hollandaise is best cooked at just under 160°F; but as long as you use a bain marie, you don’t have to measure the temperature so precisely.
  • Combine 4 egg yolks and 2 ounces of white vinegar in the bowl and whip with a wire whisk until the eggs reach the “ribbon stage.” This means that when you pull your whisk out of the whipped yolks, they should fall back into the bowl in a smooth, gentle stream to form a temporary pile of what actually looks like ribbons (sort of like a good cake batter).
  •  

  • Once you have achieved ribbons in the yolks, it’s time to start adding the butter. Clarified butter is ideal, but not necessary; just make sure it’s melted, smooth, and warm but not hot (around 130°F). Then, start drizzling it in a few drops at a time, whisking as briskly as possible. Once you begin to have a thickened, velvety sauce, you can add the butter more quickly. But early on in the emulsification process the consistency is relatively fragile, and adding too much butter too fast will cause the sauce to break. If the eggs start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, it means that things are getting too dry: Take the sauce off the heat for a moment and whisk in a few drops of warm water until your sauce is rehydrated.
  • When you’ve added the last of the butter (feel free to leave a bit behind if you reach a thickness and consistency you’re happy with), season with salt, white pepper, hot sauce (like Tabasco) and lemon juice, in scant amounts of each or to your liking. Poach a couple of eggs and toast the English muffins and it’s Benedict time! (Try these recipes for Portabella Eggs Benedict and Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict.)
     
    Béchamel Sauce

    A common start to many favorite cream soups, a béchamel (BAY-sha-mell) is relatively easy sauce to make.

  • Start with a half cup of butter and a half cup of all-purpose flour; incorporate the two together by stirring continuously over medium heat with a rubber spatula to make a white roux.
  • In a separate pot, heat a cup of milk with half an onion and a bay leaf; when it begins to simmer, whisk the heated milk into the roux until combined smoothly.
  • Let the sauce simmer, very lightly, for ten to fifteen minutes on low heat, then season with just a touch of nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Even the tiniest bit of nutmeg works brilliantly to complement the subtle sweetness of the milk; the flavor profile of this Mother Sauce has more complexity than you’d expect.
  •  
    Velouté Sauce

    The simplest of the mother sauces, a velouté (vuh-loo-TAY) is a common start to dishes involving more delicate flavors and ingredients. If you’re eating fish with a sauce that’s not some variation of a buerre blanc, it’s likely that sauce started with a velouté.

  • Start by making a roux, just as with béchamel; then whisk in a white stock (usually meaning a stock with a base of chicken or fish, as opposed to beef, veal, etc.) until you reach creamy consistency.
  • Thickness and seasoning vary based on who’s cooking, but a neutral velouté typically contains no more than a pinch of salt and is the approximate consistency of whipping cream (in its natural, unwhipped state).
  •  
    Aim to base your white stock on the protein with which you plan to pair your finished sauce. So if you’re serving chicken, make a velouté out of chicken stock; with fish, use fish stock.

    Espagnole Sauce

    Though also often called simply ”brown sauce,” espagnole (ESS-pon-yole) allegedly earned its name when Spanish cooks added tomatoes to a French veal-based sauce, and the improvement stuck. While it is slightly more complicated, espagnole sauce incorporates several of the procedural steps from previous mother sauces.

  • Espagnole begins with a mirepoix,‡ almost as if you’d skipped the salt pork step in the tomato sauce. The difference here is that the fat is butter (about 4 tablespoons per cup of diced mirepoix), and you should cook it over higher heat to give the mirepoix some color. Once it’s soft and getting brown, add flour (an amount roughly equal to the butter), stirring to incorporate until you have a roux consistency. Get the roux a few shades browner, and you have your base.
  • Now that you’ve achieved a dark mirepoix/roux mixture, whisk in a brown/dark stock, like beef or veal stock, exactly as in the procedure for velouté. Add some tomato paste (about a tablespoon per cup of mirepoix) and season with bay leaf, salt and pepper.
  • Let it all simmer for a while to break down the vegetables and let the flavors come together.
  • Espagnole is an ideal start for meaty gravies and can get quite rich the longer it cooks, due to the gelatin in the stock. Feel free to add water if your sauce gets too low or too thick for your liking, or you want to cook it for longer to extract more flavor.
  •  
    ‡Pronounced MEER-uh-PWAH, a combination of carrots, celery and onions.

    WHAT NEXT?

    These five sauces are the basis of literally hundreds of variations, so it’s worth it to take the time to master them. Be patient as you cook them and pay attention to how they react during different steps, as this will give you clues on how to fix them if they aren’t coming along the way you expected.

    If your hollandaise breaks, for example, you can start it over and use the broken sauce in place of the original melted butter, adding it to new yolks. Just make sure to add it even slower at the beginning and whisk it even faster.

    Once you feel completely comfortable with these five “mothers,” it’s time to start adding ingredients, both to replicate classic sauces and to create new ones that reflect your interests. Add cheese to béchamel and It’s a mornay, a classic sauce.

    But what if you decide to add adobo chiles or chipotle paste to a béchamel?

    The sky’s the limit.
     
    CONTINUE TO PART 2, THE SECONDARY SAUCES

    Tomato sauce becomes creole sauce, hollandaise becomes béarnaise,

    here.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Thickeners For Soups, Stews & Sauces

    Today is National Homemade Soup Day.

    Homemade soup is not only superior to prepared varieties; it enables you to add the freshest flavor with herbs and to minimize the often enormous sodium content of processed soups.

    If you want a thicker soup, there are different ways to thicken (that also are used for sauces and stews).

    In today’s tip, chef Johnny Gnall shares what every culinary student is taught—how to thicken with:

  • Roux
  • Slurry
  • Ragu
  • Bread
  • Rice and more
  •  
    Head to the article.

     

    Tomato soup thickened with a slurry. Photo courtesy Bull and Bear restaurant | Chicago.

     

    Check out the many different types of soups in our Soup Glossary.

    Discover some new garnishes for 20 popular soups.

      

    Comments

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