32 min

The Secrets Behind Succulent Sauces Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

    • Society & Culture

For this week’s Please Explain, James Peterson stops by to talk sauces. He’s an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, photographer and cooking teacher who started his career as a restaurant cook in Paris in the 1970s. His book, Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, has just been released in its fourth edition. James will answer all of our burning sauce-related queries – from béarnaise and hollandaise, to bolognese, crème anglaise, and everything in between. 

Check out some of James Peterson's sauce recipes below!

SAUCE BÉCHAMEL The amount of roux per given amount of milk depends on the use of the sauce. Thick  versions,  used  as  the  base  thickener  in  traditional  soufflé  recipes,  often  call  for  as  much  as  8  ounces  (250  grams)  of  roux  per  quart  (liter)  of  milk,  whereas  béchamel-based  soups  use  approximately  2  ounces  (60  grams)  per  quart  (liter)  of  milk. This recipe produces a medium-thick sauce, appropriate for vegetable gratins.

YIELD: 1 QUART (1 LITER)

INGREDIENTS                                                                   

milk           1 quart                  1 liter

butter        3 ounces              90 grams

flour          ¹⁄³ cup                  80 milliliters

seasonings (salt, pepper, nutmeg; optional)      to taste                to taste

1. Bring  the  milk  to  a  simmer  in  a  2-quart  (2  liter)  saucepan.  Whisk  it  from  time  to  time  to  prevent  a  skin  from  forming  on  its  surface  (see  Note).

2. In a second 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour. Stir the butter and flour over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the flour has a pleasant, toasty smell. (A) Remove from the heat for about 30 seconds to cool slightly.

3. Whisk the simmering milk into the roux.  Return the sauce to the stove and bring it back to a simmer while whisking. (B)

4. Once  the  sauce  has  returned  to  a  slow  simmer, turn down the heat and move the saucepan so  that  only  one  side  is  over  the  flame.  (This will cause a skin to form on only one side of the sauce’s surface, making it easy to skim.) Cook the sauce gently for 30 minutes to 1 hour, skimming off the skin. It is a good idea also to occasionally rub around the bottom and corners of the sauce-pan  with  a  wooden  spoon  to  prevent  the  sauce  from scalding.

5. When the starchy taste has cooked out of the sauce, it can be seasoned and strained, depending on its final use.  Béchamel should be stirred while it is cooling to prevent a skin from forming on its surface. Putting the pan over a tray of ice will, of course, speed cooling.

Note: Some chefs do not first bring the milk to a simmer and instead pour cold milk, all at once, over the roux.  This  method  saves  time—and  a  pot—but  be  sure  to  whisk  the  sauce  vigorously  to prevent lumps and skin from forming.

VARIATIONS

Use a pretreated flour such as Wondra.  Simply  mix the  Wondra  (the  same  amount  as  flour  called for in the traditional recipe) in cold water until  smooth  (make  a  slurry).  Bring the milk to a simmer. Whisk in the slurry. Simmer until the sauce thickens. It should be smooth, but just in case, work it through a chinois.

While béchamel is a fairly stable sauce, there are times  (especially  if  the  flour  is  old)  when  it  will  break.  To avoid this, blend hydrocolloids into the finished sauce.  Lambda  carrageenan  lends  an  authentic  dairy-like  mouthfeel  to  the  sauce  and  is  easy  to  use.  Start by adding 1%  lambda  carrageenan to

For this week’s Please Explain, James Peterson stops by to talk sauces. He’s an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, photographer and cooking teacher who started his career as a restaurant cook in Paris in the 1970s. His book, Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, has just been released in its fourth edition. James will answer all of our burning sauce-related queries – from béarnaise and hollandaise, to bolognese, crème anglaise, and everything in between. 

Check out some of James Peterson's sauce recipes below!

SAUCE BÉCHAMEL The amount of roux per given amount of milk depends on the use of the sauce. Thick  versions,  used  as  the  base  thickener  in  traditional  soufflé  recipes,  often  call  for  as  much  as  8  ounces  (250  grams)  of  roux  per  quart  (liter)  of  milk,  whereas  béchamel-based  soups  use  approximately  2  ounces  (60  grams)  per  quart  (liter)  of  milk. This recipe produces a medium-thick sauce, appropriate for vegetable gratins.

YIELD: 1 QUART (1 LITER)

INGREDIENTS                                                                   

milk           1 quart                  1 liter

butter        3 ounces              90 grams

flour          ¹⁄³ cup                  80 milliliters

seasonings (salt, pepper, nutmeg; optional)      to taste                to taste

1. Bring  the  milk  to  a  simmer  in  a  2-quart  (2  liter)  saucepan.  Whisk  it  from  time  to  time  to  prevent  a  skin  from  forming  on  its  surface  (see  Note).

2. In a second 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour. Stir the butter and flour over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the flour has a pleasant, toasty smell. (A) Remove from the heat for about 30 seconds to cool slightly.

3. Whisk the simmering milk into the roux.  Return the sauce to the stove and bring it back to a simmer while whisking. (B)

4. Once  the  sauce  has  returned  to  a  slow  simmer, turn down the heat and move the saucepan so  that  only  one  side  is  over  the  flame.  (This will cause a skin to form on only one side of the sauce’s surface, making it easy to skim.) Cook the sauce gently for 30 minutes to 1 hour, skimming off the skin. It is a good idea also to occasionally rub around the bottom and corners of the sauce-pan  with  a  wooden  spoon  to  prevent  the  sauce  from scalding.

5. When the starchy taste has cooked out of the sauce, it can be seasoned and strained, depending on its final use.  Béchamel should be stirred while it is cooling to prevent a skin from forming on its surface. Putting the pan over a tray of ice will, of course, speed cooling.

Note: Some chefs do not first bring the milk to a simmer and instead pour cold milk, all at once, over the roux.  This  method  saves  time—and  a  pot—but  be  sure  to  whisk  the  sauce  vigorously  to prevent lumps and skin from forming.

VARIATIONS

Use a pretreated flour such as Wondra.  Simply  mix the  Wondra  (the  same  amount  as  flour  called for in the traditional recipe) in cold water until  smooth  (make  a  slurry).  Bring the milk to a simmer. Whisk in the slurry. Simmer until the sauce thickens. It should be smooth, but just in case, work it through a chinois.

While béchamel is a fairly stable sauce, there are times  (especially  if  the  flour  is  old)  when  it  will  break.  To avoid this, blend hydrocolloids into the finished sauce.  Lambda  carrageenan  lends  an  authentic  dairy-like  mouthfeel  to  the  sauce  and  is  easy  to  use.  Start by adding 1%  lambda  carrageenan to

32 min

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