Friday, October 8, 2010

Culinary School 2: Stocks, Soups & Sauces

Following up where we left off, May and June whisked me into Stocks Soups and Sauces, building on the fundamentals of cutting, dicing and prepping.  See here's the issue:  if you want to eat more sustainably, a bit part of that means buying whole animals (ie. a whole chicken rather than just the oh-so-coveted-breast meat) but then what to do with the rest of the bird?!  Once you remove all the meat from your animal, you still are left with about 2 pounds of solid carcass and what better to make than stocks.  Here are the basics.  Every sauce must begin with a stock and every stock begins with mirepoix and bones.  Mirepoix is a 50%-25%-25% mix of onions-carrots and celery, in that order.  To make white stock, you use duck or chicken bones that have not been roasted.  To make brown stock, you can use duck or beef bones that have been roasted until browned.  This is what gives the stock the nice caramel color.  Lastly you have fish stock, made with mirepoix and, duh, fish bones or shells from any shellfish (achoo!  I'm sadly allergic).
From all of these 3 stocks come the five mother sauces: Bechamel, Veloute, Tomato, Espagnole (Brown), and Hollandaise.  From these we make Mournay (in mac & cheese), Supreme (white sauce with mushrooms & cream ex on chicken), any tomato sauces, espagnole (for any steak sauce) and naturally hollandaise (Benedicts?!).  Needless to say: YUM.  Butter and cream flowed around the kitchen all class long. My favorite recipe was for Mornay sauce.  May I just warn you this sauce poured over noodles or blanched cauliflower or pretty much anything is deadly.  It's not for the faint of heart, or weak of will.
To be quite honest, I haven't used any of the skills learned from this class until two weeks ago.  It was a hot summer and soup was not on the menu.  But in the last week, I've made carrot and sweet potato soup with mole stock, broccoli cheddar soup from Paprikash stock and have more on the menu for next week.  Now that we're in full swing of fall roast up some veggies, throw them in a pot with some stock and voila, you have dinner.
My only word to the wise is this:  when you're pureeing soups, always use a towel on top of your blender or processor, because if the hot liquid comes spewing out of your ill placed lid, you burn your entire forearm.  Badly.  Lesson learned.

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