Saturday, October 8, 2011

I am back home after a lovely week in North Carolina visiting my sister and her family. It was fun….and sooooo much food! I must post about our visit to Machu Picchu for lunch! No, not the ancient city in Peru, but the new restaurant in Raleigh. It was so interesting and good!....but that is for another day.....

Today is back to our Sauces….

Like any French mother sauce, Espagnole is not meant to be served as is. Rather, it's a base for any number of other, more complex sauces.

Why do you need to learn this?

As Americans, we don't think of "sauce" so much as we think of "gravy." But French mother sauces — including veloute, hollandaise, bechamel, and tomato — are the sauces from which all other sauces are derived.
Today, I’m going to tell you about Espagnole, or Spanish Sauce. The French have a strange way of looking at things, for instance, it is said they named this sauce Espagnole, not because it is Spanish in flavor, but rather because of its color….go figure!

No matter what it is called, it is an important sauce to have in your book of tricks.

Espagnole is a classic brown sauce, typically made from brown stock, mirepoix, and tomatoes, and thickened with roux. Okay, backing up a bit….what is a mirapoix? Simple.

In French cuisine, a Mirepoix (French pronunciation: [miʁpwa]) is a combination of onions, carrots, and celery (either common pascal celery or celeriac). Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.

Similar combinations of vegetables are known as (holy) trinity in Creole cooking, refogado in Portuguese, soffritto in Italian, sofrito in Spanish and Suppengrün (soup green(s)) in Germany.

Basic Espagnole Sauce with Variations (Brown Sauce)

1/2 bay leaf
2 parsley stems (no leaves)
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 clove garlic
1 piece of cheesecloth, cut into a 6-inch square
1 piece of butcher's twine, cut 12 inches long

1 small onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons additional butter
6 cups beef stock or bouillon, room temperature
2 ounces tomato puree
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

1. To make sachet, place the bay leaf, parsley stems, thyme and garlic in the square of cheesecloth. Gather up the corners and twist together. Using just one end of the string, tie the sachet closed. The other end of the string (the long end) will be suspended from the handle of the saucepan.

2. Cut the onion, carrot and celery into medium (1/2-inch) dice. Set aside. Mince garlic.

3. Heat the 1/2 cup butter in small saucepan until hot. Whisk in the flour (to a paste consistency) and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 to 6 minutes until mixture (roux) bubbles, turns light brown in color and has a nutty aroma. This is called a dark roux. Set aside.

4. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy, 4-quart stockpot over medium heat.

5. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Sauté the vegetables, stirring often, for about 5 to 6 minutes or until well browned. Add minced garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Add the cooked roux to the vegetables, stirring to combine.

7. Gradually, pour in the brown stock and then the tomato puree.

8. Tie the pre-made sachet to one handle of the stockpot, letting it dangle in the liquid.

9. Bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities from the surface, as needed.

10. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours, skimming the surface occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to about 1 quart.

11. Untie sachet. Then pour sauce (and sachet) into a fine strainer or china cap lined with cheesecloth. Use a ladle or spoon to gently press any remaining vegetables through the strainer. Discard the sachet.

12. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, if desired.

13. Set over a double boiler filled with warm water until ready to serve. Or cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to I week. Sauce may also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 quart.


Demi-glace: A '"brown stock" is simply a stock made with roasted bones, rather than bones that have only been rinsed and/or blanched prior to use. To make a brown stock, you can use roasted beef or veal bones or roasted chicken bones. In this recipe, we are calling for a brown stock made with roasted beef bones (see Basic Beef Stock). Place 4 cups Brown Stock and 4 cups Brown Sauce/Sauce Espagnole in a heavy, I-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by one-half. Remove from heat. Pour sauce through a fine strainer or china cap lined with cheesecloth. Allow to cool completely. Then cover and store n the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Sauce may also be frozen for up to 3 months. Makes 1 quart

Bordelaise Sauce: Place 1 cup red wine, 2 minced shallots, 1/4 teaspoon crushed black Peppercorns pinch of thyme and 1/2 bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook for about 33 minutes or until reduced by three-fourths. Add 1 quart Demi-glace (see above) and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a line strainer (or cheesecloth). Cut 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and drop them, one at a time, into the sauce while stirring constantly to combine. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups.

Madeira Sauce: Place 1 quart Demi-glace (see above) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes until reduced to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup Madeira Wine, stirring to combine. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups.

Mushroom Sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy saute pan over moderate heat. Add 1 minced shallot and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms and continue sauteing until brown. Add 1 quart Demi-glace (see above) and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon dry sherry and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 cups.

Here is a good recipe, using the Espagnole Sauce

Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Espagnole Sauce

Yield: Makes 10 servings
2 (2 1/2-lb) pieces trimmed center-cut beef tenderloin roast

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb small fresh cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup medium-dry Sherry
2 2/3 cups espagnole sauce

Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Remove any strings from beef if tied, then pat beef dry and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until just smoking, then sear beef 1 piece at a time, turning with tongs, until well browned, about 5 minutes each. (If beef tenderloin pieces are too long to fit into skillet, halve each crosswise, then brown 2 pieces at a time.) Transfer beef to an 18- by 12-inch flameproof roasting pan, reserving skillet.

Roast beef in oven until thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into center of each piece registers 120°F, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer beef to a cutting board, reserving roasting pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 25 minutes. (Beef will continue to cook as it stands, reaching 130°F for medium-rare.)

While beef roasts, heat butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then reduce heat to moderate and cook mushrooms, stirring, until liquid they give off is evaporated and mushrooms are pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

While beef stands, straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add Sherry and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add Sherry mixture and espagnole sauce to mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Cover skillet and remove from heat.

Cut off and discard strings from beef and cut meat crosswise into 10 or 20 slices. Pour any juices on cutting board into sauce and heat over moderate heat, stirring, until hot.

Serve beef with sauce.

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

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Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
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Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
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