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 Financière is a ‘fork-list’ addition to my Sauce Series –– it’s something I’ve always wanted to make. The name has always whispered the Croesusian promise of shimmering golden lucre and made me want to try anything with the name attached to it. I’m in good company making the golden connection since no less than MFK Fisher said “The word financière, for fairly obvious reasons, means richness, extravagance, a nonchalant disregard of the purse, but I sometimes suspect that I use it oftener than it warrants to denote anything Lucullan. I need only reread some Victorian cookery books to reassure myself and justify my preoccupation with the word.”
There are a few things with the name. There’s a buttery-sweet goldbrick of a cake called Financiére but also a creamy Ragoût a la Financière made with sweetbreads, cockscombs and mushrooms (often nestled in pastry) in addition to that sauce I wanted to make –– a sauce redolent of truffles and madeira –– hence the financière connection.
When I started digging for historical connections to financière, I didn’t have to look far. A dinner held for Abraham Lincoln in 1861 had Vol au Vent Financière (a pastry case stuffed with that Ragoût a la Financière). A famous 1877 literary event known as “The Whittier Dinner” saw Mark Twain as the star speaker and most of the literary lions of the day attending. The menu featured “Filet of Beef, larded, Sauce Financière.”
Since this is another entry into my Sauce Series, I am making my financière sauce using some great D’Artagnan products. I’m using their Moulard duck breast as the base for the dish because it is perfect for the sauce with its meaty lusciousness.
For the sauce itself you can make the “Federal Reserve” version with sliced truffles or the “Banker’s Reserve” using truffle oil and truffle butter for that truffle magic. You can use pricey mushrooms like morels (although a good handful is only $6) or buttons.
Either way, you will love the sauce on pretty much anything from chicken to game birds to steak. It’s a keeper. I decided to combine a few recipes for the sauce from Gouffé, Francatelli and even Oscar of the Waldorf. The result was just what I wanted and it is quick to make and is not terribly rich –– just rich tasting!
If you want to go for full-out Fort Knox extravagance, you can use a few shavings of fresh white truffle in season or add a cube or 2 of foie gras to the sauce before serving
Duck Breast with Sauce Financiére
serves 2 -4
2 duck breasts, cooked and sliced (each breast gives about 8 slices)
1 recipe sauce financiére
2 – 4 pieces fried bread
herbs for garnish (sage, chervil, marjoram)
Place the sliced duck breast on the bread and spoon the mushrooms and sauce over the meat. Garnish with herbs.
1cup mushrooms (morels and sliced shitakes or creminis)
2 T butter or truffle butter or olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 t pepper
salt to taste
1 t mushroom ketchup (recipe HERE) or soy sauce
1 c D’Artagnan demi-glace
1 T meat glaze (a super reduced demi-glace or stock)
1 T Espagnole sauce (the recipe is HERE) or 1 t ketchup
3 T madeira (I would use Rare Wine Co. Savannah Verdelho)
1 D’Artagnan canned truffle, or fresh truffle sliced and/or D’Artagnan white truffle oil to taste
1 or 2 tablespoons foie gras, chopped (optional)
Sauté the mushrooms in the butter till softened a bit, add the truffle slices. Add the spices and mushroom ketchup or salt.
Add the demi-glace and meat glaze and Espagnole. Reduce to a slightly syrupy consistency (you will have around 1/3 to 1/2 a cup) and add the madeira and keep warm or reheat gently. Add the truffle oil just before serving. If you are using foie gras, put it in at the end and stir it in using a gentle heat.
2 large duck breasts from D’Artagnan* (there are smaller ones, if you use them change the cooking time)
Salt & Pepper
This is a virtually foolproof technique. Preheat the oven to 400º. Score the fat of the duck breasts with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the duck breasts, fat side down, in the skillet to render the fat, about 6 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over and sear for 1 minute. Turn the fat side down again and place the skillet into the oven to roast for 7 minutes, until breasts are medium rare (4 minutes for the smaller breasts). Rest them for 5 minutes then slice