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Saucy Series X: Bechamel Mornay

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.

Sauce Béchamel Mornay

I discovered Filet of Sole Verdi when I read a description of it that made me swoon –– sole, lobster and truffles on pasta with a creamy Mornay sauce that’s popped under the broiler to brown a bit. Escoffier invented the dish to impress the composer. With 2 great sauces in it I thought it was perfect for the sauce series.

escoffier

Escoffier

But when I looked up the original recipes for béchamel and Mornay sauce, I was shocked.

Escoffier’s original béchamel is made with veal! His white sauce is cooked with pieces of veal for two hours then strained. Remarkable. I will try doing it that way one of these days but decided that, since it was fish, I would go with the simpler, non-veal version that he used for “Lenten preparations.”

Béchamel was named after the Marquis de Béchameil (1630 -1703), of whom Escoffier wrote “After all, if it wasn’t for his divine sauce the Marquis de Béchamel would have been forgotten long ago.” Legend has it that it was invented to sauce dried cod. It is in Varenne’s 1651 Cuisinier Francais made with a veal velouté and cream, so Escoffier’s version echoes the sauce’s velouté ancienne roots (velouté has been around a very long time).

The same was true of the Mornay sauce. Probably named after a “player in the halcyon days” of the 2nd Empire, Charles de Mornay, I never knew Escoffier put fumet into the sauce (fumet being stock-based liquid the meat or fish was poached in). It makes a sublime addition to the cheesy sauce, giving it a bit of backbone.

When you put it together with the sole and lobster and truffles and pasta, ooh la la, you can see why Verdi was pleased with it. It is extremely elegant and if you do the sauces and pasta ahead of time, it can be ready in a few minutes.

Bechamel Mornay 1

Filet of Sole Verdi

(serves 2 main course-4 appetizer)

½ to ¾ lb. filet of sole
1 c fish fumet/stock*
4 c cooked pasta (don’t go too al dente on this, you want it softish to go with the elegant texture of the dish)
1 c cream
2 small lobster tails, shells removed
1 T butter
2 c béchamel
2 c Mornay sauce
1 large D’Artagnan truffle sliced and ¼ chopped (optional)
2-3 t D’Artagnan truffle oil to taste.
Salt and pepper

Put the fish in the stock on medium heat. Add a touch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes per side –– they cook very quickly. Remove. Reduce the stock to 1/2 a cup. Pour any juices that have collected from the fish into the reduced fumet. If you have a lot of juices, you should reduce a little further so you only have 1/2 cup.

Warm the cream. Add the cheeses to the cream. Toss the pasta with the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 t of the truffle oil and some chopped truffle, if you are using it, and toss just before assembling the dish.

Add the fumet to the Mornay sauce and stir. Warm it. It should be thick.

Sauté the lobster tails for a few minutes. They should not be fully cooked. Chop the smaller end of the tail and add to the pasta. Slice the fatter end.

Heat the broiler. Make single skillets or a large skillet with handles that can take the broiler.

Spoon the pasta into the dish. Lay the sole over 2/3 of the dish. Pour the Mornay sauce over the sole and tuck the lobster at the edge of the Mornay sauce. Heat the pan on the stove for a few minutes at medium-low heat.

Put under the broiler on high for a few minutes. Pay attention, it goes from perfect to burned in no time. Remove and top with chopped herbs. Tuck the truffle slices in and drizzle with remaining truffle oil.

*(I always freeze bones and shrimp/lobster shells and make this when I have enough to make a quart of stock. Then freeze it flat and break it off when I need it or freeze in ½ c portions). You could use chicken stock in a pinch.

Bechamel mornay 2

Béchamel

2 c milk
1 small shallot, sliced
1 clove (optional)
3 T butter
2 T flour

Heat the milk and simmer while you melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and stir over low heat till all bubbly. Do not let it brown. Strain the milk. Pour the hot milk slowly into the flour mixture, stirring all the while over medium heat till all the milk is used and the sauce is thickened. Add the cheeses and set aside.

bechamel mornay 3

Mornay Sauce

2 c béchamel
½ c fish reserved fumet
1 c grated Parmesan
1 c grated Gruyere

Add the fumet to the béchamel and reduce a little. Add the Parmesan and gruyere and stir till smooth.

Saucy Series VIII: Bordelaise

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.

Bordelaise Sauce

Sam Ward was one of the great entertainers of the 19th century.  He virtually invented lobbying in Washington.  He had a talent for creating great dinners with perfectly assembled guests who then made deals since they were in a great mood after great food and conversation.

Uncle Sam Ward

When I looked at one of Sam’s dinner menus, I could see what all the fuss was about –– it is everything you would imagine it to be. The menu is thoughtful and yet full of piquant touches like the Sorbet au Marasquin –– a touch of prussic acid from the cherry pits in maraschino liqueur in the sorbet to aid in digestion and cleanse the palate for the last of the dinner. His nephew, another renowned tastemaker named Ward McAllister, said Sam made sure he would never allow that lest “the fatal mistake should occur of letting two white or brown sauces follow each other in succession; or truffles appear twice in that dinner.” It was always a perfectly choreographed dance of flavors –– and conversation. Without both, the event will never be as great a success.

menu 1

What would I chose for the 4th dish from Sam’s dinner table? I think that Crêpes a la Bordelaise are the perfect choice –– a great addition to a beef dinner with steak or roast, potatoes and a vegetable. My crêpes are light and airy with a winey, mushroom-y bordelaise sauce. They could be served flat or as a beggar’s purse. I know they will delight at your dinner. I have made a white wine bordelaise before for you HERE, but this calls for the red wine version.

Bordelaise is another addition to my Sauce Series that uses both the mother sauce Espagnole and demi-glace. I have included recipes for both but it’s a breeze to order your demi-glace from D’Artagnan and store it in the freezer. I just slice off what I need and put the rest back in the freezer. Bordelaise is great for any steak. You can make it ahead and freeze it easily so you can make your meal in a snap.

Menu 3

Delmonico’s Chef Filippini Recipe from Sam Ward’s Era

Menu 2

Delmonico’s Chef Ranhoffer’s Recipe from Sam Ward’s era

If you are so disposed, you can dissolve a spoon of marrow into the mix, as was done long ago. I skipped that step and let the meatiness of the mushrooms add additional flavor and depth. It’s really pretty easy to make if you have the basics in your freezer.

Crêpes Bordelaise for 4

1 recipe for crêpes
1 recipe for bordelaise
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 T butter

Sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Add the mushrooms to the bordelaise. Fold your crêpes into quarters on your plate and ladle the sauce over them or serve the sauce on the side. They can be plated separately or served on a platter.

Crêpes (makes 12)

3/4 c milk
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/4 t salt
butter for pan

Throw the milk, eggs, flour and salt into the blender and let it rip for a minute.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Use a stick of butter like a marker and run it all over your pan (or you can use a spoon of clarified butter if you have it). Be especially generous for the first few and use butter before each pour of batter. Swirl 2 T of batter around the pan and flip once it has set –– do not allow to brown too much. Keep warm or reheat gently when you are ready to serve.

Bordelaise

2 shallots, chopped fine
2 t oil or butter
1 c red wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 T demi-glace from D’Artagnan
3 T Espagnole sauce* (or add a t. of flour to the sautéed shallots with 1 t. of tomato sauce or ketchup and a little more demi-glace)
stems from 4 mushrooms
1/2 bay leaf
pinch of cloves
1 1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 T butter or oil

Sauté the shallots in the oil till softened somewhat.

If you are skipping the addition of Espagnole, you can add a teaspoon of flour to the shallots to give the sauce the extra body and add a t. of tomato sauce or ketchup for the right flavor.

Put the wine, garlic, shallots, demi-glace, Espagnole (if you are using it) and stems from mushrooms into a pan and reduce at medium heat until thickened.

Strain the sauce –– you should have about 1/3 cup of sauce about the texture of chocolate syrup –– a bit less if you don’t use the Espagnole. This sauce keeps well for a few days.

*Super-quick version of Espagnole Sauce

1 T butter
1 T flour
1 T bacon
1 T onion
1 T white wine
1 t ketchup
1 cup stock
2 T demi-glace from D’Artagnan

Sauté the flour in the butter till medium brown. Add the rest and cook on low for 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour — till thickened. Keep watch lest it go too far. Strain and use.

•Quick Version of Espagnole Sauce

4 T butter
4 T Flour
3 T diced carrot
3 T diced onion
3 T bacon
2 c stock
1 t thyme
piece of bay leaf
2 T white wine
1/4 c demi-glace from D’Artagnan
2 T tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the flour and butter till it is a medium brown on a medium flame –– stirring all the time.

Add the vegetables, ham and bacon and stir. Slowly add the stock, wine and demi-glace. Cook over a low flame for 45 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes and strain, pressing hard on the solids. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Save the rest for other uses. It is an invaluable addition to sauces. Freeze it in small portions. Quickest and easiest is to put it in ice-cube trays in 1 T portions and store them in a baggy in the freezer. Then it’s a breeze to use.

Duckathlon VIII, The Video

Duck yeah!  Here’s all the evidence  needed to destroy any future political  careers.

Our annual Duckathlon was held on June 9 in the Meatpacking District of NYC. This year, our cameras followed the team from Annisa restaurant as they prepared for the event.  This profile of elite duckathletes gives a sense of what it takes to compete in our culinary obstacle course. With Chef Anita Lo leading her team “The Foie Freedom Fighters,” expect to see fierce competition along with the zaniness.  All for Life, Liverty, and the pursuit of Quackiness!

With many thanks to our partners, sponsors, judges, and all the teams who participated.  Looking forward to seeing you all at Duckathlon in 2014!

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 4

It’s Day 4 of our Turkey Day guide! And the home-stretch of Turkey Roasting 101. S0 – the bird is now perfectly roasted and ready to come out of the oven. You have already cleared a safe place for it, with surfaces protected if necessary from the intense heat of the roasting pan. Your cutting board with juice trough, sheet pan or warmed platter are situated close by………. uh… now what?!

Turkey Roasting Basics, Part 4

Give the Bird a Breather… Finally, it is time for a good rest. Unfortunately, that rest is for the bird, not for you. After the turkey is through cooking, remove it from the oven, and transfer it to the waiting board, pan or warmed platter. Then place it in a warm place (out of the way of any drafts) to allow it to ‘rest’ with the dressing still inside. Do not just place it on a flat cutting board. If that is Read more

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of our Thanksgiving Survival Guide! By now, you’ve learned some turkey roasting basics, so you chose a technique to initially protect the turkey from the dry heat; it is in the oven roasting beautifully, and you are basting away diligently – this is great! Now comes the second step towards a moist, juicy bird – don’t overcook it!

 

Turkey Roasting Basics, Part 3

First, use each basting as an opportunity to keep an eye on the browning. If the skin becomes too brown – too soon before the bird has cooked through, you can prevent over browning or burning, simply by shielding the skin. You do this with a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, that you crease from side-to-side across the center to form a tent shape. Place this tent very loosely over the top of the turkey. Be sure to leave at least 2 to 3 inches open between the bottom of the foil and the top of the roasting pan, to avoid trapping moisture or steam under the tent (remember, dry heat). If at this point the bird is already as brown as you would like, use the foil shield through the remainder of the cooking, and continue to baste as usual.

Otherwise, take the foil off at the beginning of the last hour of your cooking range to allow the bird to continue browning and the skin to ‘crisp’ again. If after that, the skin has browned to your liking, and the bird has still not finished cooking; just put a tent back over the turkey and leave it until the bird does finish cooking. In either case, it is very important to continue basting as usual.

Are we there yet?
Even when equipped with a guideline and good intuitive timing, a quick read or instant read meat thermometer is an indispensable little tool for determining when your bird has finished roasting. These are not the same meat thermometers that protrude out of the breast throughout roasting. Quick read thermometers have a slender sensor that you push into the meat to take the temperature

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D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 2

In the first installment of our Thanksgiving Survival Guide, we told you why turkeys should have fat added to the mix during roasting and gave specific oven temperatures for best results. For Day 2, we’re taking these lessons one step further, to ensure crispy skin and moist meat, with buttering, cloaking and barding.

Turkey Roasting Basics, Part 2

Here are three more ways to protect a turkey from the dry, oven heat, which will send you well on your way to roasting the perfect holiday bird.

Buttering beneath the skin is the second technique, and this one actually helps the bird to self-baste. This treatment is a particularly delicious choice for our free-range organic turkeys. For birds up to 16 pounds start with a well-chilled 1- pound roll of our black truffle butter, you may want two rolls if your bird is any bigger. Slice each roll evenly creating approximately 1/4-inch thick discs. Use your fingers to slip between the skin and meat at the neck opening, gently working up to using your entire hand to ease your way carefully along the breast and leg meat, taking care not to puncture the skin. Then place these black truffle butter discs in an even layer over the entire surface created between the skin and the bird; pat the skin back into place, and season generously with a Read more

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 1

Can you believe there are only 16 days left until Thanksgiving?! While warm, fuzzy visions of time off, family gatherings, food and football fill the minds of many, if you’re the designated chef on Thanksgiving, the tick-tock may have you feeling more distress than delight. Even seasoned cooks can feel a tad overwhelmed this time of year, and if you’re new to cooking or if this is just your first time hosting Turkey Day the pressure may frazzle your nerves like they’ve never been frazzled before. But before you have a total-food-freak-out, just remember – we’re here to help! 

This year, we’ve launched a brand, spanking new section of our website that’s chock-full of helpful articles, videos and chef recipes. And for Thanksgiving in particular, we’ve compiled a great deal of tried and true information, from how to choose your holiday bird to how to carve it and everything in between. So starting now we’re going to post a new article, video or recipe on this blog everyday until Thanksgiving.

We’ll start with the basics… Turkey Roasting Basics, Part 1! Here’s everything you need to know to get that beautiful bird into the oven. Read on…

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