Cooking Class 8 Sauces 101

Well we finally moved from the animals, for now. On Sunday we started with Sauces. We did some prep and took some notes. We did our mirepoix, as a group. We needed 16 ounces. We cut that and realized that we cut way to many onions. We had 16 ozs and barely had carrots and celery. Then we did 3 potatoes each, to practice our knife skills.

Today I decided to step it up. I took a stand for all the food that goes into the garbage never to be used or seen again. I took all the trimmings from my table’s exercise. I put them in water and remembered to put my name on them. Two tubs of potatoes-one with diced and one with odd shapes. Dinner for 4-5 nights.

After that we watched a demonstration on starches. We used arrow root, corn starch, and the a Beurre Manie. The Beurre Manie mixture is made of butter and flour–similar to pastry dough. Arrow Root is the clearest–if I remember correct. We mixed them with hot water. BM is the cloudiest. We also made a roux. It is the same as the Beurre Manie but it is cooked. We did the pale, blond, brown and chocolate phases. The last phase ended after leaving it in the over to turn a chocolate color, 2 hours or so. Nice little science demonstration. We also made clarified butter. If you remember 2 posts ago, I mentioned cooking the fat down to an oil. Well that is what we did with the butter. We got about 12 jars out of that–looked like canola oil-or beer.

Next we moved to the demonstration on Bechamel sauce and Espagnole sauce. Bechamel is a sauce made of mostly milk, chx stock and cooked with a clove and bay leaf studded onion. The Espagnole sauce uses the dark roux, and mixes with a whole pot of stock, plus the caramelized mirepoix. This took a long time to make. After we added the mirepoix (cooked in a sauce pan with tomato paste) from earlier to the stock and roux, we spent hours skimming the crap off the top. I thought that it looked like a giant brown mess. We also worked on one sauce ourselves, called Veloute. It was adding the flour butter mixture to chx stock basically. (this is from memory so I will probably have to check my notes to make sure I wrote the correct names with the procedure.)

That took us all afternoon as we had to do a double batch so each person could try out. That also meant a double order of pots. Lets count shall we: 3 pots of stock, as a copying of the demonstration, 1 pot for clarified butter to see the science, 5 for the sauces (one Espagnole, 4 of others), 1 flat pot for the chocolate roux, which stayed in the oven for 2-3 hours (hard on stains), a sieve to strain, 2 bowls for cooling, 3 whisks and 4 ladles–here is the CRAZY part, multiply this by 3. Here is the CRAZIEST part, my table partner and I had DISH DUTY this week. Did I mention that class ended at 4 and we spent an hour scrubbing and loading the steamer/dishwasher and cleaning water. You have to change the soapy water occasionally and that means nothing else must be draining, including the dishwasher. A fun exercise in kitchen cleaning.

Man, after that I was beat. I was so beat, but I wanted to hang out for a minute. My hands looked like scales. Those were not the hands you show up to dinner with.

Oh, the funny of the day. I lost my whisk. Before classes started I engraved all my pieces and washed them as told to us on orientation. Well some pip squeak took mine and would not give it up. No worries, I have one without a name that I secured, so that I can make a trade next class. (I asked several times and made it known to the class that I was looking–in the end there was even an extra one, that I put in the cage of tools in our kitchen.) Our table usually has its things all over the place especially if the stove it being used. Chef take our tools and does whatever. He has his but ours are near and he puts it back, but other people grab as well and don’t put back. My partner at the table, was missing her ladle for most of the day as well. She found hers I believe. Me, I will make the person who took mine sorry. Someone will be embarrassed, silently. I don’t want anyone to loose face.

A dark way to end the day. I was glad to go home–beat by heat (top floor kitchen with large glass windows), by work and by a thief. At least I am learning. That is all that matters.

Enjoy life. Eat well!

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