Making a good sauce has similar qualities as making a good relationship. Gravy.
- 1. Use fresh, quality ingredients.
- 2. Keep a sharp eye on it, or else something will stick to the pan.
- 3. Put all the love in it.
Not easy enough.
Culinary students make sauce day after day, over and over. French cuisine; butter, cheese, flour, cream. I don’t use these kinds of sauces because cheese separates, cream curdles and butter burns. I know the drill. Saute some celery, carrot and onion, throw in some garlic first. Don’t let it burn. Deglaze with liquid. Balance. Truth.
I don’t use flour because my mom used to mix flour with the turkey drippings in the roasting pan on Thanksgiving. She never heated it though and the glop usually tasted just like blah. If you heat flour it mandates away the bad taste and can become a thickener, absorbing the flavor of the other ingredients. Corn starch can also be added to thicken a sauce, but maintain prudence. A minimal amount of corn starch can significantly thicken any liquid. Also, be sure to mix with a bit of water before adding to your sauce, this will avoid clumping.
Often times, folks buy ready made sauce in the grocery store for convenience and cost. Many of these sauces, like soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, cannot be reproduced in the home at a price worth. Buy these sauces and use them as supplements in the sauces you make. I make a soy sauce, butter and cornstarch mix that was great with a little pepper. Don't be afraid to experiment, whe you start to understand how different ingredients react to heat and each other you will be zen sauce maker okay.
Looking at a recipe in the paper or a magazine, then a quick look in the cupboard for ingredients manifests a dreary sink,
”I don’t have the ingredients to make that.” They say.
Then, at the grocery store, spices are found to be quite expensive and a bottle of Olive Oil? Too much. Taking a leap when it costs to jump can be a gratuitous endeavor. Most people just side on the easy way. They don’t know that the high road offers more than a better view.
The neat thing about making a sauce is that you can make it into more. You can make your sauce into chili or a soup or stew. Sauce is just a basic blanket for food.
Sometimes a mistake is made and the sauce tastes too bitter or sweet. This is no fault of you. A number of different variables can contribute to a weak sauce. Hopefully, you are strong.
I always start with a clean two quart saucepan or a large twelve inch saute pan. I put it over medium heat for about a minute and then I add enough olive oil of the Spanish, Greek or Italian variety to coat the bottom of the pan. Don’t skimp on the oil. On average, a bottle of good cooking olive oil should cost about seven dollars for a 17 oz (500 ml)bottle. Don’t store it in the fridge, but beware that in high heat or sunlight it may become rancid. Smell it if unsure, a good rule to follow is, if it doesn’t smell “right”, toss it. This rule applies to all food products except durian fruit. The oil should become lucid and will easily coat the pan. A good tip to follow is to stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and if small bubbles form around it, you are ready to add your food. If the oil starts to smoke, it is too hot.
For my basic, all purpose sauce, I always add garlic. Garlic is vulnerable to heat. Sear it too hot and it will become burned and bitter. If you don’t cook it enough, the sharp flavor will overwhelm your sauce. Browned or roasted garlic will add a subtle and wondrous accent to food of any cuisine. Onions are next, you want to cook them until translucent. Browned edged onions will add an extra bit of flavor, this is called caramelization. When the bottom of the pan begins to get brown and the garlic and onions begin to stick, it is time to deglaze the pan. Any liquid will release the flavors stuck to the pan. I use; water, wine, beer, lime juice, broth or the liquid in the tomatoes or beans I’m cooking. Be creative. Adjust. Become.
Sauce is made when the liquid is thick enough to coat your spoon.
I add a number of different vegetables to my sauces and each has evolved properties when combined with other ingredients. The important thing to remember is that anything is all right. Creativity is the key to hitting a target, and when the target is hunger, you will likely hit the mark. Hunger is the best seasoning and using what you have can be liberating and economic.
Mushrooms pose a significant flavor and the juice extracted from them while heated can be a wondrous element to any dish. The varieties of mushrooms is vast and I can only offer you this much, never wash fresh mushrooms, they absorb moisture. If you run them under the faucet, they will soak up that nasty chlorinated water and take longer to cook. Simply wipe away any dirt with a dry towel, snip off the ends of the stems and chop. Add with onions and garlic, toss to coat with oil. Add a bit of butter if.
Tomatoes are versitable and delicious. I use canned roma tomatoes, but any canned tomatoes will do. Most of the canned variety are ripe when packaged, so the quality is stable. Be careful to note the sodium content and adjust your salt accordingly. If using fresh tomatoes, squeeze them right in. the juice will assist the deglazing process and you don't have to worry about loss on the cutting board.
You might worry about the seeds, but don't. Put it all in.
I forgot about salt. Sea salt, kosher salt, regular old table salt. Add about a teaspoon at the beginning, the middle and the end. Easy like a story.
The time to add your spice is when you add the liquid to deglaze, unless you are making something with cumin. By heating cumin in the oil, it will extract a smoky pungent punch, then add the liquid. I add whole coriander, fennel, red pepper and caraway to my hot pan first to explode the flavor from the seeds. Any dried spices, I add with the liquid, except cayenne or paprika, which I add at the end. Then I reduce.
Reducing only means that you are cooking off liquid to thicken the sauce. It allows the flavors to mingle. I put the lowest heat under and allow it to simmer, little bubbles break the surface sporadically. This is the middle when I add more salt and if I’m making marinara, I splash some more olive oil in. Simmer.
Drink some wine and pound a heater whilst you stir, put on your water and salt it generously if making pasta. Cover the pot to make the water boil quick and to save energy. Get your fresh herbs chopped and any cheese grated. Deep breath stretch. Preheat oven to toast bread.
Bread is the judge of a good sauce. When the bowl or plate is absent of anything a fork can fill, the bread is used to sop up any leftovers. You should always have enough sauce for bread.
As the sauce reduces, cut the heat, add a bit of salt and fresh herbs, pour over your dish, fold a few times, top with cheese and serve.
Eat. Wash dishes.