Lesson 16: The Mother Sauces

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today our class got a nice intro to sauces by making 3 of the "Mother Sauces" in the culinary arts.  A "mother sauce" is a base sauce for tons of other sauces...so today's lesson was very important!  The sauces we made were espagnole, veloute, and bechamel.  I've always looved bechamel, especially when paired with pasta like lasagna and mac & cheese.  Actually, I just found out today that the homemade mac & cheese my mom used to make (which I was one of my favorite dishes) was made with bechamel.  It's really simply to make too... First, heat equal amounts of flour and butter (we used melted clarified) until it forms a white roux.  Add milk to the roux while constantly whisking.  Whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer and add an onion pique (which is just an onion studded with cloves).  Simmer for 30 min, stirring occasionally.  Strain the sauce and season with salt, white pepper, fresh nutmeg, and a dash of tabasco or cayenne.

The veloute sauce did not seem as rich and creamy as the bechamel, so I didn't like it as much.  A veloute is used more often as a base for other sauces.  It's the same recipe as bechamel except without the onion pique and with chicken stock instead of milk.

The espagnole sauce takes longer to cook, so we actually started this one first and simmered it for two hours.  We caramelized mirepoix, added tomato paste, and then finally added flour and butter to make a roux.  Then, we added simmering veal stock to the mixture and a sachet d'epices.  We seasoned this sauce the same as the others (salt, white pepper, tabasco, and nutmeg).  After the mixture came to a simmer, we lowered the heat and cooked it for another couple of hours then strained it.  We will also use this sauce tomorrow as a base to make other sauces.

It was Dana's birthday today!!! So obviously we needed to have something delicious to eat (other than just plain sauces).  Chef let us make mac and cheese with some extra bechamel sauce we made.  We mixed pasta with the sauce, 3 different cheeses (gruyere, cheddar and parmesan), and I think I saw him add some extra heavy cream for good measure!  Chef made a delicious crumb topping with a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheeses we used inside the mac.  MMM it was soooo good!
There was also a cracked wheat salad (I forget the exact name of the dish) that another girl in the class made.  It was a delicious blend of cracked wheat (kind of like whole wheat cous cous), herbs, and citrus:It was definitely fun getting to the stoves today and actually following a recipe.  There was a lot going on at once and much hustling in the kitchen!  Just a preview of what's to come I'm sure!


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