Friday, February 18, 2011

Brown 'Espagnole' Sauce

Espagnole (pronounced like the word for Spanish: "español" and sounds better if you are wearing a big dark brown moustache) is a basic brown sauce that is one of the five mother sauces of classical cuisine. It's also the starting point for the demi-glace, a rich and deeply flavorful sauce that is traditionally served with red meats.  

Having a variety of homemade stocks in the freezer is a sweet and naughty chef secret.  Next time you go to the dollar store or thrift store, pick up some extra ice cube trays.  Make your stock and pour them in ice cube trays, freeze them.  Pop them out into solid cubes and store them in freezer ziplock bags and label them.  It’s great for soup, sauces all year round.

1 cup onions, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
2 Tbsp clarified butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock
¼ cup tomato purée
Sachet consisting of: 2 bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns, 6 parsley stems

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy.  Add the mirepoix and sauté for a few minutes until it's lightly browned. Don't let it burn, though.  With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the mirepoix a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated and forms a thick paste or roux. Lower the heat and cook the roux for another five minutes or so, until it's light brown. The roux will have a slightly nutty aroma at this point.

Using a wire whisk, slowly add the stock and tomato purée to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, add the sachet and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about one-third, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan. Use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Remove the sauce from the heat and retrieve the sachet. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.  Serve hot. If not serving the sauce right away, keep it covered and warm until you're ready to use it or freeze it.  Not recommended for sexual lubricant.

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