Getting Sauced at School

28 Sep

In my previous post Paula Deen Would be Proud, I discussed both the celebrity chef and my passion for mayonnaise, but added that even I can be a victim of mayo-overload. That’s why I was rather relieved when for our next sauce-centred class, we used a relatively healthy and un-oily vegetable mix as our “mother.”

Although it doesn’t really have much to do with Spain, the French call it sauce espagnol – a broth made from stewing, pureeing and straining carrots, onions, shallots, celery and garlic, and combing all that with stock, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.

The sauces that came out of this tasty demi-glaze were:

  1. Poivrade: most commonly paired with game, this accompaniment combines sauce espagnol with vinegar, red current jelly, and a drop of mustard.
  2. Bigarade: for this one we had to make up some caramel and fresh squeezed orange juice before adding it to our demi-glaze. Finish it off with a splash of cognac and a touch of vinegar and you have yourself a sweet addition that perfectly compliments the rich flavour of duck.
  3. Charcutière: a tad thicker than the others, this sauce uses chopped pickles, mustard, and tomato paste to liven up the sauce espagnol and apparently acts as a perfect dip for pork chops
  4. Madère: an agreeable sauce that goes with most meats, madère contains sautéed mushrooms, shallots and a combination of Madera and white wine, all added to the demi-glaze base.

We also learned how to make a classic Béarnaise, and although it doesn’t have the same base as the others, it was delicious all the same with an aromatic finish of freshly chopped tarragon.

Much like our other saucy lesson, we had to actually make some real food to satisfy our ever growing appetites.

For lunch we concocted tarte aux herbes, which uses parsley, chives, cilantro, grated parmesan cheese and cream to flavour the potato base that acts as the main filling for this savory pie. Instead of using a puff pastry crust, Marie-Blanche taught us how to make a very simple recipe in case we were ever in a hurry and didn’t have time to buy, or even worse, MAKE the gruelling puff pastry dough.

A simple salad of choux de fleur accompanied our herb tart. By combining the leftover chopped herbs from our other dish with a simple vinaigrette, we were able to transform these formerly dull steamed cauliflowers into a rather tasty side that was extremely easy to throw together.

For dessert we made tarte aux pommes traditionnel, which was a little bit bigger than the other apple tart we baked a couple weeks back. For this tart we also used the simple dough we learned to make for the tarte aux herbes, but added sugar to sweeten it up a bit. We also made a delicious apple-cinnamon confit to give our thinly sliced apples a moist base between the crunchy crust. Garnished with confectioners sugar and shredded almonds, this classic French dessert goes best with thick cream – not a very complex “sauce” like the others, but as I’m learning sometime simple can be better when using such fresh ingredients one has access to in this wonderful city.


One Response to “Getting Sauced at School”


  1. The Return of Waterloo – Bringing Wellington Back to France « Shortt and Sweet - 05/10/2011

    […] To conceive this bundle of joy, we baked over a kilo of beef tenderloin in the oven for about 10 minutes with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. While that was roasting away, we laid out puff pastry dough on a greased cookie sheet and once the tenderloin was slightly cooked, we placed it in the center of it’s blanket-to-be. We then slathered the beef in a generous layer of goose liver pâté as well as freshly made duxelle (as previously seen in post A Snowfall in Russia). We then wrapped up our package, decorated it with some leftover dough, and baked it for about 20 minutes until the puff pastry crust was golden brown. To accompany this rather rich dish, we made a simple Madera sauce (as previously seen in Getting Sauced at School). […]

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