A sauce can make or break a meal. They add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal. The sauces I grew up on were industrial inventions like Heinz 57, Hellman’s mayonnaise, Worcestershire, and Gates BBQ. But now that I learned the art of making a great one the old condiments will never do for me again and I will not serve them to my lover either. My go to sauces (not including the sauces I posted last week that go on pasta) include a Bechamel which I serve over chicken breasts, a mayonnaise which I use with everything, and an apple sauce I serve with pork or potato dumplings.
Bechamel sauce seems fancy but can be made in just ten minutes. I keep the fat content low by using 1% milk and adding sherry instead of whole milk. The roux, in French cooking, acts as a thickening agent for the sauce. Butter and flour are steadily cooked together for several minutes to remove the pasty taste of the flour. Also, The best type of pan to make a Bechamel in is heavy-bottomed enameled, stainless steal, pyrex, or porcelain. You do not want to scorch your sauce and these types of materials conduct heat more evenly compared to thin-bottomed pans. Bechamel can be made into a variety of different sauces. When making chicken I add sherry and mushrooms to the Bechamel, for vegetables I add fresh turmeric and extra black pepper, and for fish I add white wine.
1 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
1 cup of warm 1% milk
salt and pepper to taste
Turn the heat on your stove to low. Melt the butter into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Once the butter is melted add the flour to the pan. Whisk the flour into the butter ensuring to catch the flour and butter that is around the edges. Then take the pan off the stove and add the warm milk. Immediately whisk the mixture, be sure to scrape the edges. While you are whisking return the pan to the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Whisk the milk while it heats on the stove. After about 4-6 minutes the liquid will begin to thicken. Continue to whisk for 2 more minutes then add the salt and pepper (and any extra ingredients you decide to add to the sauce). Serve over chicken, fish, vegetables, or with a sandwich.
Home-made mayonnaise quintessentially emulsifies canola oil and egg yolks to make a thick condiment that adds flavor with fat. There are two ways to make mayonnaise, either by hand or by food processor. I am usually only cooking for two people, myself and my boyfriend; therefore, I just whip this spread by hand.
Mayonnaise (Yield: 3/4 cup)
1 egg yolk
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
In a medium to large bowl whisk together the egg yolk, salt, pepper, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk for 2 minutes to fully incorporate the ingredients. Use a rubber scrapper to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, add canola oil a teaspoon at a time. After adding a little over half the oil, taste the mayonnaise and decide if it is the correct consistency. I like my mayonnaise so thick the spatula can stand straight up in it. Add more oil as needed. Also, add cold water to thin to desired consistency. Spread on bread or use as a dip for fries and artichokes.
Apple sauce brings me right back to my childhood lunch room. I make this sauce in the fall when I have so many apples I don’t know what to do with them all. I have found that apple sauce not only makes a great dessert it’s delicious on pork chops and potato dumplings too. Each different type of apple has its own distinct flavor. I use Rome apples or Macintosh apples to make my sauce. This recipe contains no sugar or fat.
3 apples,washed, peeled, and chopped
1/4 cup cold water
pinch of cinnamon
Place the apples and the water in a medium sized sauce pan, cover the pot with a lid and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the apples begin to burn on the bottom add a tbsp. of water, in order to prevent the sugars in the apple to caramelize and taste burnt. Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until the apple are very soft. Then, once the apples are cooked through put the apples in a large bowl and begin mashing with a potato masher, food mill, or fork. Sprinkle cinnamon or any other warm spice into the apples and stir until well mixed.