Lessons 15-19: Classic & Contemporary Sauces

One week, 26 sauces and my first burn later and I find myself picking up a sense of speed and urgency, hustling each morning to prep and make the day's multiple recipes. We kicked up the heat this week as Chef Ted guided us through the background and preparation for the French Mother Sauces as well as countless derivatives of classic and contemporary sauces. But before we could launch into emulsions, chutneys and relishes, we had to learn the basics of preparing a roux, a cooked paste of flour and fat that's used as a thickening agent in sauces, soups and stews.

We practiced making each of the three types of roux (pale, blond and brown), and for some of us that meant multiple attempts as we learned just how quickly butter could burn. And butter wasn’t the only thing burning. Despite my best attempts at safety, a splash of hot stock marked my first (and I’m guessing not last) burn in kitchen 601. I quickly realized the importance of slowly straining sauces and how to handle a hot pot with a side towel. Lesson learned! We began making the French Mother Sauces on Tuesday morning and I was especially interested in learning about the use of an onion piqué (slideshow image #2) to flavor Bechamel Sauce.

Wednesday marked a hectic day in the kitchen as we worked to make nine different sauces including, Allemande, Mornay, Fortified Wine and Creole. The lesson plan also included one of my favorite recipes for the week, Classic Tomato Sauce (slideshow images #4 & #6). By mid-week we began to get accustomed to the hustle needed to prep, make and present multiple recipes in under four hours. Chef Ted continued to guide us through the best and most efficient techniques for sauce preparation. He demonstrated preparing a sauce au bain marie, or over a simmering hot water bath (slideshow image #9).

This is an example of a technique that I never even knew existed, and yet now couldn’t imagine not knowing as we advance in our lessons. I also learned about the importance of salt in drawing out the flavors within a recipe. But as you might imagine, seasoning requires tasting, and did we ever taste. Pinch of salt. Taste. More salt. Taste. This process repeated until I was so full of rich and buttery Hollandaise, Bernaise and Sauce Soubise that I swore off butter for the rest of the week (or so I thought). Friday marked a marathon day of eight different contemporary sauce preparations. We made sweet and savory relishes, chutneys and infused oils including, Corn and Red Pepper Relish (slideshow image #13) and my personal favorite for the day, Mango Chutney with slivered almonds and raisins (slideshow image #11). We’ll gear up next week for the last four culinary lessons of Module One, culminating in Tuesday and Wednesday’s written and practical examinations.

Coming up next week: Chicken Consommé, Cream of Broccoli Soup, Purée of Carrot Soup, Onion Soup Gratiné, Lobster Bisque and Gazpacho

A look back: Lesson 1: Mise en Place Lesson 5: Medium Dice & Mirepoix Lessons 6-10: Fabrication & Stocks Lessons 11-14: Meat Fabrication DICED blog is written by culinary arts students, staff and alumni of The Institute of Culinary Education. Explore news, recipes, and information on starting a career in culinary arts.

This blog is written by culinary arts students, alumni as well as the president of The Institute of Culinary Education. Find news, recipes, and information on starting a career in <a href=”http://www.iceculinary.com”>culinary arts</a>.

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