A Saucy Series, Part II: Sauce Madame
Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.
As part of my series on sauces, this goes to the top of the pack as an ancient ancestor of European sauces. Even ketchup owes a debt to this sauce, as does Sauce Espagnole.
This recipe for Sauce Madame is over 600 years old, and comes from the oldest cookbook in England – actually, it wasn’t even a book, it was a long scroll that a household scribe kept in the kitchen of Richard II that has come to be known as the Forme of Cury (cury comes from the French, Querie – the business of a cook –– not the spice). If you would like more of the history, visit my blog for the rest of the story.
The recipe is richly flavored, full of fruit and enriched with breadcrumbs and not flour, as was the style from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. The texture is smooth and elegant. I include a recipe for the sauce without galyntyne, if you want to skip the bread addition –– it was made that way as well.
Normally made with goose, I decided to use one of D’Artagnan’s Rohan ducks and the result is delicious. You could also make the stuffing separately (in a covered casserole with a tablespoon of duck fat and 1 cup of demi-glace cooked for ½ hour to 45 minutes till fruit is tender) and use it with duck breast or legs and thighs…it would be good with chicken as well. The sauce keeps well and you can make the poudre douce and galyntyne ahead of time. I froze some of the galyntyne to use later and it worked beautifully.
Duck in Sauce Madame (original recipe, with measurements interpreted)
1 duck (a Rohan duck ) 5 ½ to 6 pounds
2 T salt
3 c cored, peeled and roughly chopped pears and quinces or tart apples (if you use quince, chop small or steam for a few minutes to soften). I only had pureed quince that I had put up this year so added ½ a cup of that and ½ an apple for texture.
2 c grapes
5 cloves peeled garlic, cut in slices
branch of sage
1 c chopped parsley
2-3 sprigs fresh hyssop or thyme (or 2 t dry)
2-3 sprigs fresh savory (or 2 t dry)
½ to ¾ c juices from duck with some of the fat –– if there’s not enough add demi-glace
¼ c galyntyne (recipe below)
½ c red wine
2 t powdered or grated galingal to your taste (available in the Thai section of your market) or use powdered ginger
3 t poudre douce (recipe below) or to your taste
Preheat oven to 375º
Rub duck with salt inside and out.
Combine fruit, garlic and herbs and stuff the duck with it. Truss up the bird so the stuffing doesn’t leak out.
Put ½ an inch of water in a roasting pan and put the duck on a rack, breast side down. Turn the bird after ½ an hour so the breast side is up. Roast about 1½ hours total for a medium bird –– you will be keeping it warm so you don’t need to cook it to death (around 150º when measured at the thigh). Check the bird regularly and turn the pan in the oven every half hour or so. You may want to put foil around the legs so they don’t burn.
When the bird is done, remove the stuffing and tent the bird. Put the juices in a heavy saucepan with the stuffing. Stir and allow the fruit mixture to cook a bit more; the fruit may not be softened enough and will improve with a bit of a cook. Add the galantine and wine and spices. Stir to combine.
While the mixture is cooking and after the bird has rested 10 minutes, carve the bird into serving pieces and keep warm in a 200º oven while you finish the sauce. Originally these would be speared with a knife and eaten with fingers. Pour the sauce over the duck and serve.
4 t powdered ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t grains of paradise
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t sugar
1/4 cup toasted bread crust, ground good pinch each of galingal, ginger, cinnamon
1 t salt
½ c wine vinegar (approximately)
Combine the breadcrumbs with the spices and salt. Add enough vinegar to make a thick sauce and set aside. You can push though a strainer if you want a finer texture.
Notes: I used about ¼ of the crust of a peasant loaf. I cut it off the bread and toasted it till medium brown (a toaster oven works well, but you can do it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300º). Then I put it in the processor. To make it extra fine I put it in the spice grinder in batches to give it a fine texture. Then I toasted it in a skillet to get it a little browner –– don’t take your eyes off it when you are doing it. It goes from perfect to burnt quickly –– stir constantly.
Sauce Madame sans Bread
Stuffing from bird
juices from duck with some of the fat (around a cup, about 2 T of that duck fat or to taste)
½ c demi-glace
½ c red wine
1 t powdered or grated galingal
2 t poudre douce
Cook the stuffing with the rest of the ingredients. Reduce till thickened somewhat and serve on the duck.