Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Word about Sauces

Being a bit of a food TV addict, I was watching Hell's Kitchen the other evening. Gordon asked the chefs to name the "Five Mother Sauces", which they did with relative ease. Some of the names were mumbled or impossible to spell by hearing them (even though I used to be fluent in French - shame on me!). Since I'm always looking for ways to flavor my meat, I went to researching them.

The most surprising thing about this topic is that, for migraine purposes, I have already fully explored the basics. We've already discussed simple gravy (veloute) and bechamel. The third sauce, espagnole, is a doctored, slow-cooked version of veloute with tomato paste added at the end (not good for your migraine patient, so leave it out if necessary). Sadly, the last two mother sauces, vinaigrette and hollandaise, contain acids (vinegar or lemon juice), so are definite migraine no-no's.

The great thing about these sauces is that a few minor variations can give you an almost endless variety of options for flavoring your food. Cream cheese added to veloute makes a great sauces for pasta or chicken. Milk or cream added to veloute creates a great sauce for pot pie. Cheddar (if you can eat it) added to bechamel makes a great sauce for macaroni and cheese. Cajun seasoning added to veloute makes a killer specialty gravy for chicken. The common options are generally simple and well-documented, plus you can expand those options with whatever vegetable or seasoning happens to fit what you are having for dinner.

The only big cautionary note I would throw in is this: if you add egg to a hot liquid, it MUST be tempered so it will not scramble. Add a small bit of the hot sauce to the egg and stir. Then, add more hot liquid to the egg and repeat. When the egg mixture has been fully brought up to temperature, it is added slowly to the cooking sauce. When eggs or milk products are added to a sauce, it can no longer be cooked at high heat levels, because there remains a possibility of curdling.

So, if you can now make a quick light gravy, a slow dark gravy, and a milk-based gravy, you have mastered the migraine-friendly basics of sauce-making according to Escoffier. Congratulations!

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post Bill. One of the most common complaints I get is that it's hard to flavor or compliment meals with gravies, spices or dressings, but as you explain, we have limited means to do so. However, it can be done. This is an excellent post delicately explaining the different ways we can change sauces/gravies to fit our lifestyle. Well done!

    ReplyDelete