|Mushroom Soup made from chicken stock|
From stock we can make soups and sauces. Chef Gilligan went on to explain that from those base sauces (or mother sauces) we can make other sauces. And so on. He then looked to us -- Who can name the five mother sauces? Someone mumbled Hollandaise from the back. YES! Hollandaise is one. Any one else? Another student threw out Tomato Sauce. YES! That's another. And then the class went silent. Geez, I thought to myself. I eat, don't I? What the heck are the three other mother sauces?!? But before I could get the B out for Bechamel, Chef quickly gave us the answers. Yes...Bechamel was one. Velute, another. And lastly, Demi-Glace. If you didn't know these, remember them. You might need them if you're a contestant on a game show someday. As we were about to head over to the demo station to begin our day, Chef paused. He wanted us to know three important things:
1) A recipe is ONLY a guideline. You must have a relationship with the ingredients.
2) Everything in a recipe should taste great by itself.
3) Cooking is about always adjusting. You want consistency without diluting flavor.
Am I crazy here or do you see another "life" metaphor coming on? I wanted to contemplate this for hours while eating Pasta Fazool but the sound of a 100mph whisk reminded me that there's no time to contemplate....there's food to be made!
For our demo we observed a Bearnaise Sauce made from the base mother sauce -- Hollandaise. Bearnaise is not the most difficult sauce to make. In fact, I recommend giving it a try. But there are a few tricky parts. So, here are the pointers to help you out.
This sauce is simply egg yolks with a tarragon reduction whisked to thicken with warm melted butter. But as simple as that sounds, there's a process known as "emulsification" that needs to occur so that the egg yolks "accept" the melted butter into its mixture. If you flunked chemistry, have no fear. Emulsification is when two liquids that won't combine are agitated and suspended into each other. Ahhhh.....agitated! So, what agitates the eggs you ask? Heat them. In a tricky manner, you want to whisk the eggs in a bowl that is cradled over a boiling pot of water. You need enough heat to make the egg mixture whip like ribbons but not too much heat so that they turn into scrambled eggs. When it's the right texture (almost mustard like), you want to pour a tiny bit of your melted butter into the egg mixture. This is the "suspended into each other" part. Once the melted butter is introduced and whisked, you can then start to slowly pour in the rest of your butter. Both artists and scientists should try it. It's quite amazing how the two come together. Note: prior to emulsifying, make your tarragon reduction with peppercorns, wine, vinegar, shallots and fresh tarragon. Once this has been over heat and almost dry, strain and take the wine mixture, add a little cool water and your egg yolks. Then you may let the emulsification party begin! Once you have your sauce, just add a little more fresh tarragon so you have the nice little green speckles in your golden color sauce. You can also add a little lemon zest, too!
The demo was great. Easy to understand. We were all ready to make our very own Bearnaise sauce. But as I glanced around the room I realized that the stations weren't set up for Bearnaise. They were set up for six different other stocks and sauces we'd be attempting to make. Chef smiled, "pair off and find a station. The recipe you'll be cooking is with your mis en place. Remember....it's a guideline. Have a relationship with the ingredients!" I quickly scanned the different stations. Oh man, did Mr. Miyagi just take over our cooking class!?!
|It took a lot of muscle to get them looking this good|
As the hours of cooking continued, I started to develop, what will eventually be a long relationship with my ingredients. And as we enjoyed our Day Two meal -- Mussels Steamed in White Wine Sauce, Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Bearnaise and my team's Mushroom Soup, I contemplated Chef Gilligan/Miyagi's "jump right in" style. I liked it. It's how everyday should be. Just remember that:
2) Everything in
Stay tuned for DAY THREE...
For more information on cooking classes at Sur La Table visit: LEARN TO COOK