Sauces are what pulls the dish together and I agree some of those French albeit delightful sauces are heavy and not waistline friendly. So here is my take on it: once a week with that really great dish, eat the sauce! Lick the spoon and the plate – go on!
I never learned cooking techniques properly, meaning in a cooking curriculum like the Cordon Blue school. Everything I know I learned from watching my Michelin starred chef dad, TV cooking shows and mostly by trial and error. Lots of errors! Sauces have not been my forte ever but these 3 sauces I can whip up anytime and they go with everything I cook. But it all starts with stock!
STOCK – Good cooking starts with a good stock. Making your own stock not only saves you a penny or 2, reduces food waste but also has you really making food from scratch! I collect bits and pieces of vegetables and herbs thought out the days in a jar in my freezer, so when it it time to make stock, I already ve a starter kit so to speak and I don’t waste anything.
It is rather a long process yet soo worth it. My entire childhood was scented with chicken or beef stock simmering away on the stove all day long.
Now full disclosure as I have a tiny apartment and a tiny freezer when I run out of stock I do use store bought. I love the brand LaCroix as they are mild with the salt/preservatives.
Most importantly when making stock do NOT add any salt as it will overpower everything especially when reduced for making sauces. Seasoning with salt comes at the end when you are finishing a sauce and you can salt to taste.
- CHICKEN STOCK – submerge in water the carcass of the cooked chicken you roasted, add onions, carrots, leeks, celery, thyme, bay leave and parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of hours, strain and voila. If your butcher gave or offered you the giblets, make sure you brown them first in the pan and than add them to the water. Store in sterilized jars or in the freezer.
- VEGETABLE STOCK – same as the chicken stock, just swap the chicken carcass for mushrooms. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minute and strain.
- BEEF STOCK – ask your butchers for some cow knees and use the recipe above swapping chicken carcass for the cow bones. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of hours and strain.
- FISH STOCK or FUMET – submerge in water the carcass of the cooked fish or crustaceans, add the same vegetables and herbs, add a splash of white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes and strain.
A simple a favourite of mine to serve with chicken, is a CHICKEN CREAM SAUCE: let the chicken stock (500 ml) reduce by 1/3 in a sauce pan, add cream (125 ml) and bring to a boil for a minute, reduce the heat and add strong mustard (2 tablespoons), season with salt and pepper and serve.
BEURRE BLANC (white butter sauce) is great with vegetables, fish and poultry.
STEP 1: Boil the dry white wine (60 ml), white vinegar (60 ml) and 2 shallots ( chopped finely) in a sauce pan over medium heat until liquid is reduced to a few table spoons and has a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
STEP 2: Add the cream (80 ml) and whisk it all smooth, boil for a minute. (don’t let it burn the bottom of the pan)
STEP 3: Reduce the heat and while constantly whisking add the chilled, small cubes of butter (240 gr). Let them melt away and lift the saucepan from time to time from the heat to lower the heat when needed.
STEP 4: Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat, sieve and serve immediately.
A variation of this is a shallots & red wine sauce: swap the white for red wine (250 ml), omit the vinegar, reduce the red wine with 1 finely chopped shallot and add only 2 tablespoons of butter at the end. Sieve and season with salt and pepper.
BECHAMEL ( white sauce) is used in many casserole dishes baked in the oven like lasagna, pies, etc
STEP 1: In a saucepan add 2 tablespoons of butter and let melt. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes to cook out the flour until the paste bubbles a bit. This is called a ROUX. (if you wish to make GRAVY or VELOUTE add chicken or beef stock (60 ml) to the roux and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes)
STEP 2: Add hot milk ( 300 ml) and constantly whisk till the sauce thickens about 2/3 minutes. Remove from heat. You can now add any flavour you like such as cheese or vegetables. You can store it for later use, make sure to cover it with wax paper or plastic warp to prevent a skin from forming.
Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used my vintage sauce boats.