Sunday, November 25, 2018

Making Sauce Espagnole

Making one of the seven master sauces in French culinary arts

Vegans don't read, cause this is about making sauce espagnole, which involves beef... There are lots of things I miss about restaurant cooking. The gauge of the pots and pans, the dishwasher to wash them, the prep cooks cutting and helping me with chopping and coming up with ideas for specials. I also miss--sometimes--being in the kitchen from 7 AM till Midnight, which is time enough to make things like tomato sauce from super scratch and making a basic brown sauce. Not saying I can't do that at home, but I don't. For tomato sauce I start with my garlic and onions and fresh tomatoes, but then use an organic sauce and organic vegetable stock (and whatever spices I need) to finish it off so that it's done in 2-3 hours, instead of 8-10 hours.
Brown sauce is even worse. Sarah Appel and I would get in 50 pounds of marrow bones--beef leg bones--and roast them for a couple of hours. Then we'd hit them with a hammer to loosen up the marrow, and put them in a 10 gallon stock pot with onions and carrots and celery and water and let that baby cook for several hours till all the marrow was rendered--which might include adding several gallons of water a couple of times. Then we'd remove the bones and veggies and cook it down for another couple of hours till we had a really good stock available.
That's where the sauce espagnole starts. Once you have your stock, you take a 5 gallon stock pot. You put garli-- maybe 5 head--in olive oil, onions--maybe 10--a large head of celery--no leaves, as those are bitter-- a couple of pounds of carrots, a few pounds of mushrooms, a couple off pounds of diced jowl bacon or dry-cured ham, a couple of bunches of Italian parsley, white pepper corns, thyme and bay leaf and when that is rendered, you add the beef stock and cook that baby for 12-15 hours, slowly. After about 8 hours you add either homemade tomato paste or a 6 ounce can of organic tomato paste, then start shooting dashes of white wine into that mix to bring the fat to the surface, which gets skimmed and tossed. And you do that for hours, until you have the most perfectly clean/clear black broth you have ever seen. You start with gallons and gallons and gallons and wind up with maybe a quart. But that sauce espagnole will save for a week in the fridge, or months in the freezer. And it will be the backbone of any damned brown sauce, or cream sauce for meats, that you want. You want a bourbon sauce? When your meat is done, you pull it, then toss the bourbon and a teaspoon of the espagnole into the pan and voila! you have people getting moist when they eat it. You want a good creamed mushroom sauce? Add a teaspoon per serving of the espagnole and they will be begging for mercy from their tastebuds.
Anyway, I miss that because I'm not gonna take that time at home. So what I do is all the veggies, thyme, bay leaf, white pepper corns, cured ham and get that rendered. That means, at the volume I'm making, 3 heads of rough cut garlic in olive oil, two onions, 4 stalks of chopped celery, half- a pound of baby carrots, one large shallot, one bunch of chopped scallions, one half pound of button mushrooms, half a bundle of Italian parsley, 10 whole white pepper corns, one pound of dry cured ham, half a bundle of fresh thyme and one bay leaf. All of the veggies were organic.
That cooked for one hour, rendering it all perfectly. Then I added store-bought beef bone broth, three quarts, and that's cooking down now. In an hour, I'll add 6 ounces of organic tomato paste and a concentrated beef bone broth and more water. I'll keep adding the concentrated bone broth--organic--till it has the right consistence. Then I'll do the wine thing to get the fat to the surface for elimination. And when it's perfect, I'll taste it: It will be neutral but so rich that my mother could fly. I'll end up with maybe a pint of good, really good espagnole, enough to last a month or two in this house, if it's kept in the freezer. 
As good as it is, it won't be as good as I used to make in the restaurants.
I hope everybody is eating well tonight. Just share a little and you'll get more back than you know what to do with. You all know that. You all do that. Sorry to preach to such a nice group of people. Enjoy.

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