‘Regular Recipes’ – Gil shares his sauces – from Velouté to Hollandaise

Gazette reader Gil Keay provides ‘Regular Recipes’ for The Gazette website

This time Gil shares his sauces, from Velouté to Hollandaise , why not try them for yourselves? Enjoy!

Mother Sauces

French chef Antoine Cureme was the 19th Century equivalence of today’s celebrity chef, he prepared food for royalty and even made Napoleon’s wedding cake.

In Cureme’s classic tome “The art of French cooking in the 19th Century” he highlighted four foundation sauces, Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole and Hollandaise.

August Escoffier later added Tomato sauce to the list giving us five Mother Sauces which can be used as the basis of practically any sauce in classic cookery.

Béchamel

A basic white sauce which can be used as it is (to top Lasagne or Moussaka for example), but is also the starting point for many other sauces such as, for example, cheese sauce and mornay sauce.

You will need:

1Pint – Whole milk, warmed

35gm – Clarified butter

35gm – Plain flour

Small onion

2/3 Cloves

1 fresh bay leaf

Pinch Nutmeg

Milled white pepper (Milled black pepper can be used but leaves flecks in the finished sauce)

To put together:

In a heavy bottomed saucepan warm the butter and gradually sift the flour in, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated to produce a pale-yellow paste. (A Roux)

Using a whisk, slowly add the warmed milk, whisking away any lumps and add the onion, bay leaf and cloves. (I like to stick the bay leaf onto the onion with the cloves, it makes it easier to retrieve and discard later) Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the total volume has reduced a little, stirring regularly to prevent burning.

The result should be just thick enough to coat the back of your spoon, if it is too thick, simply whisk in a little milk. Remove the onion and its bits, and discard. Passing your sauce through a wire strainer with a piece of cheesecloth will make the sauce extra creamy.

Season to taste, but be careful as with salt and nutmeg, a little goes along way.

Cover and keep warm, serve as soon as possible.

Velouté

A Velouté sauce, is like a Béchamel sauce, made from a roux (butter and flour) but made with stock rather than milk. As there are three types of basic stock, there are three types of basic Velouté.

Sauces made from this mother sauce are for example, Chicken Supreme, with added cream, and white sauce for fish with added white wine and cream.

You will need:

1Pint – stock

35gm – Clarified butter

35gm – Plain flour

To put together:

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the butter and gradually sift the flour in stirring all the time with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated to produce a pale-yellow paste. (A Roux)

Using a whisk slowly add the hot stock losing any lumps by whisking vigorously.

Simmer for 20 minutes or until the volume has reduced by about a third, stirring often to prevent burning.

Skim off any impurities that may rise to the surface. Passing the sauce through a wire strainer with a piece of cheesecloth will make the sauce extra creamy.

Cover and keep warm, serve as soon as possible.

Espagnole

A brown sauce, again starting from a Roux, but using a brown stock, tomato purée and mirepoix (A posh name for chopped carrots, celery and onions), for flavour and aroma.

Espagnole is the starting point for the red wine Bordelaise sauce, for example.

You will need:

Mirepoix – 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery, – diced perhaps ½ inch.

(Chop to similar size to allow uniform cooking times but as the mirepoix is ultimately strained out you do not need to be too precise).

1 Pint – brown stock

35gm – Clarified butter

35gm – plain flour

2 tablespoon – tomato purée

1 – bay leaf

½ teaspoon – Thyme

3-4 sprigs – parsley

4 -5 peppercorns

To put together:

Place bay leaf, thyme, parsley and peppercorns in a square cheesecloth and tie the corners with a piece of string long enough to reach the handle of the pan for ease of retrieval.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the butter and add the mirepoix and fry until lightly brown, be careful not to burn, gradually sift in the flour stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to form the roux.

Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the paste begins to turn a light brown colour, again be careful not to burn.

With a whisk, slowly add stock and the tomato purée, whisking away any lumps.

Raising the heat again bring to the boil, lower the heat and add the prepared sachet. Simmer for about an hour or until volume has reduced by about a third, stirring frequently. Skim off any impurities.

Remove from the heat and retrieve the sachet, pass through a wire strainer with a cheesecloth.

Cover and keep warm, serve as soon as possible.

Hollandaise

With this sauce, it is important to use clarified butter, it stabilizes the sauce helping to prevent splitting or curdling, and it does improve the flavour and texture.

Hollandaise sauce is a beautiful accompaniment to asparagus, artichokes, eggs or fish.

Clarified butter:

Melt butter, skim off foam and white residue leaving just pure yellow butterfat. (The skimmed off stuff is great in mashed potatoes or drizzled over fish)

You will need:

½ pint – clarified butter

4 – Egg yolks (at room temperature)

2tblespoons – fresh lemon juice

Salt to taste, tabasco sauce or paprika

To put it together:

Heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan.

Combine egg yolks with a tablespoon of water and a little lemon juice, in a bowl, whisking for a minute or two until light and frothy.

Place your bowl directly above the pan of simmering water, do not allow the water to touch the bowl. Whisk for a couple of minutes until sauce begins to thicken, remove from the heat and add warmed butter a drop at a time while whisking constantly, if you add the butter too quickly the sauce will split.

Continue whisking, as the sauce thickens you can gradually increase the rate you add the butter, but, if you have come this far why rush things now?

(Should your sauce begin to split you could try adding a little thick cream and whisking vigorously to try and rescue it).

When your sauce is at the consistency you want, i.e. smooth and firm, coating the back of a spoon, season to taste with lemon juice salt and tabasco or paprika.

Best served immediately, but can be held for a short time provided it is covered and kept warm. (No more than 1 hour).

Tomato

A basic tomato sauce is the start point for Provençale, creole, Spanish and Portuguese sauces, it is also the base of a pizza topping, and the basis of Bolognese. In its unadorned form below it goes well with stuffed marrow, for example.

You will need:

Oven-proof pan with a lid

50gm – belly pork

Mirepoix

1 clove – Garlic

2 x cans – Chopped tomatoes

Chicken stock

Ham bone (optional)

Salt and sugar to taste

Sachet of bay leaf, Thyme, parsley sprigs and peppercorns. (see Espagnole sauce)

To put together:

Pre-heat oven to 300F

Fry pork over a low heat until fat liquefies, add mirepoix and fry until onion is clear but not browned. Add tomatoes, ham bone, the stock and sachet.

Bring to the boil, cover, place in the oven for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven, discard sachet and ham bone and purée the rest in a blender until smooth.

Season to taste, adding just enough sugar to counteract the tang of the tomatoes.

Serve hot immediately, or keep covered and warm until service.

For vegetarian version leave out the ham bone and replace the pork with olive oil.

Fresh tomatoes can be used:

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add fresh tomatoes, roughly the same as two cans of tomatoes, dependant on size, for about 20 seconds, remove all the tomatoes, the skin will peel off the flesh.