Friday, February 22, 2008

Mastering the Sauce

This week, I successfully made two sauces from scratch, both with a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach.

The first was a pan sauce to accompany my steak. I de-glazed the pan I cooked the meat in with Maker's Mark Bourbon, then I added a bay leaf, assorted peppercorns and heavy cream. The sauce was simple, yet highly effective in making beef peppery and delicious. This was the first time I have made this sauce and I must say that I was proud.

Tonight I went for sauce improvisation part two, and utilized more of the cream. I made an Alfredo sauce with pasta and grilled chicken. I started the sauce by melting some butter in a pan, then sauteing some garlic and shallots , to which I added freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and finely chopped fresh parsley. I threw in a bit of salt at the end, but that's it. It takes a while to reduce the sauce to the right consistency, and you have to continuously stir with a whisk, but it's a fairly easy sauce to make and the outcome was honestly about as good as anything as I've paid lots of money to eat at a restaurant. 

A friend asked me to help her cook so she can get more comfortable with it, saying she messed up easy recipes. The thing is, I mess up recipes too. I think a lot of the time they are poorly written, or just plain incorrect when it comes to their proportions or measurements. Sure, there are some things that should be precise, like, uh, ok fuck it 99% of cooking can be done by feel. And that is my wisdom for the day, I encourage anyone with an interest to just mess around with food. You start to get an idea or what ingredients make sense in which dishes, and then cooking becomes a trial and error journey. Sometimes, that journey ends with delicious food, and that's worth any flubs you might encounter along the way.

1 comment:

m.xx said...

I enjoy slicing open chicken breasts and stuffing them with a multitude of unexpected ingredients (cranberries! brie! walnuts!). Thanks for the sauce tips, sir.—Prather