Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exquisite Sauces, "quickened".

By Thomas Keller
From The French Laundry

Ideally, a great sauce is made from stock using the bones of the meat that is featured in the dish. The French Laundry doesn't have the space to store a dozen different stocks - nor do most home freezers. This method uses chicken and veal stock ( two stocks you should keep on hand) as a base for building different flavored sauces that impart the flavor of the meat or bird being served yet require only a small amount of hones. (For example, it would be difficult to acquire enough squab bones to make a proper stock.)

The "quick" sauces mirror the stock making process in many ways but the quick sauces are flavored by caramelizing the vegetables, browning the bones and then by repeated deglazing, reduction, and clarification. Listen for the sounds : When the bones are placed in the oil, you should hear a violent sizzle, which tells you your oil is hot enough. Once the liquid is added, the sizzling will quiet. As the liquid evaporates, a glaze will form on the bottom of the pan, which tells you that its is time to deglaze again. Each  time a glaze is formed, you will hear a sizzling and each time you deglaze the pot will become quiet.

We use some chicken stock and water as well as veal stock for these, if straight veal stock were used, it would reduce too much and become too gelatinous and the flavor would be too concentrated. The chicken stock allows is to cook the bones long enough to extract their flavor without the stock becoming too reduced. If you have a stock already made from the same kind of hones your are making the quick sauce with( eg, if you are  making a quick lamb sauce and have lamb stock on hand), replace half the veal stock with that stock.

Again, the proper amount of reduction over gentle heat with the pot pulled to the side of the flame, and continual skimming to remove impurities are paramount. And when the sauce are done, we strain them many times to remove as many impurities as possible. A single sauce may be strained as many as twenty times, the chinois washed between each straining, until the sauce passes through the chinois without leaving any particles. Initially we rap the rim of the chinois to speed the straining  and then progress to swirling motion but we never pump the sauce with a ladle. The goal is to remove the particles, not push them through.

You can make a quick sauce with the bones of a squab, venison, lamb or whatever meat you are preparing.

a chinois

a china cap

1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 pounds bones, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 cups of water
2 1/2 cups strained chicken stock or water
1 cup onions cut into 1/2 inch mirepoix / pieces
1 cup leeks cut into 1/2 inch mirepoix /pieces
1 cup diced carrots into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups strained Veal stock plus 1 cup strained stock made with teh same bones as " quick" sauce ( venison, duck, or lamb).

Heat the canola oil over  high heat in a wide heavy  pot  large enough to hold the bones in one layer. When it just begins to smoke, add the bones. Sear the bones , without stirring, for about 10 minutes. They should be well browned before they are moved, or they will give off their juices and begin to steam rather than brown. Turn the bones and cook for about 10 minutes longer, or until they are evenly coloured. ( Well-roasted bones will give the sauce its flavor)

For the first glazing: Add the 1 cup water to the pit. Listen as the liquid goes into the pot,  You will hear it sizzling as it hits the hot pot: then as it reduces, it will become quiet. Stirring with a wooden spoon, scrape up any glazed juices clinging to the bottom of the pot and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the pot is reglazeded and sizzling again. (The oil still in the pot will be removed later).

For the second deglazing : When the water has evaporated, deglaze  the pot with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock as above. This time, as the stock boils down, the color of the bones and liquid will become deeper and the natural gelatin present in the stock will glaze the bones.

For the third deglazing : Add vegetables. The water in the vegetables provides the liquid for deglazing. Cook as above until the moisture has evaporated and the vegetables are highly caramelized.

For the fourth deglazing : Add  the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock, the veal stock, and the remaining 2 cups of water. Deglaze the pot, scraping up the glazed juices from the bottom , then transfer the stock and bones to a smaller, narrower pot so that it will be easier to skim.

Bring to a simmer (with the pit set partially off the burner to force the impurities to the side of the pot) and ladle off the oil as it rises to the top. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, skimming often until the stock has reduced to the level of the bones.

Strain the sauce through a China cap  and then again through a chinois. Do not force any of the solids through a strainer, or they will cloud your sauce. You should have about 2 cups of liquid.

Pour the liquid into a small pot, reduce to about 1 cup, and strain.

For Variations 

The ingredients for all of the variations are added during or after the addition of the vegetables, during the third deglazing.

Squab Sauce : Add 1/2 teaspoon Squab Spice with vegetables. 

Squab Spice : 

1/4 stick cinnamon, broken into small pieces
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons quarte epices ( four spice powder ) .
{Notes :  I use 5 spice powder and less cinnamon because I cannot find any 4 spice powder which is everything 5  spice has less cinnamon}          
Toast the cinnamon, coriander, cloves and the quarte epices in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant.
Finely grind the toasted spices with the black pepper in a spice or coffee grinde. Sift through a fine mesh strainer, stirring with a spoon. Store in a sealed container at room temperature or in the freezer. ( The squab spice begins to lose some of its intensity after a few days, freeze for longer storage and use directly from the freezer.)                                                                  

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Steve Finnell said...
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