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It's time to get sauced.
And Laurent Manrique certainly knows a thing or two about it - especially when it comes to getting sauced the classic French way. If you know the basics, you'll be well on your way to Black Diamond sauce-dom in no time.
The Gascony-born chef was trained at Michelin-starred Paris restaurants Le Toit de Passy and Taillevent before earning Michelin stars of his own stateside at San Francisco’s Aqua.
Now, Manrique is the chef/partner at Millesime in New York City.
"It's not about making sauces for just the sake of it," says Manrique. "It's about teaching my younger cooks the proper techniques that will allow them to expand their skills, and also to give them the understanding of why we're using a particular sauce for a particular dish or ingredient."
So whaddya say - feeling saucy?
Five French Sauces You Should Try to Master and Why: Laurent Manrique
Béarnaise is a sabayon made with the reduction of vinegar, shallots and tarragon and adding clarified butter. The key is to make sure that the sabayon doesn't break, meaning the fats – the butter and yolk – separating."
2. Sauce velouté
Add milk to a roux and you have a sauce béchamel – the base for soufflés – add fish stock and you have a fish velouté, chicken stock a chicken velouté and so on."
3. Beurre blanc or beurre monté
You have to move the saucepan until everything moves like a wave. It's all in the wrist. When you watch a chef doing it right, it's a thing of beauty. The sauce will thicken enough to coat a spoon and develop a glassy shine so brilliant you can see your face in it."
To this hot pan you want to add a cold liquid, the contrast in temperature lifts almost everything off the pan. A good jus really captures the essence of the main ingredient.
Next time you roast a chicken, make a jus using just a cup of water and you'll get this sauce that is the very natural, light essence of chicken.
In the kitchen we say: 'Make sure you keep the eye in the jus.' There should be a circle of shiny fat on the surface of the jus amidst the deglazing liquid - that's where the flavor is."
5. Sauce vinaigrette
A basic vinaigrette is a mixture of two parts oil to one part vinegar, and is usually thickened by adding mustard should you choose.
When vinegar hits lettuce it basically starts breaking the leaves down. With something delicate like mache or sliced tomatoes you want something lighter that doesn't overwhelm the flavor, so use a broken – or un-emulsified – vinaigrette. For something heartier, such as romaine or roasted artichokes, use a thick vinaigrette to coat it.
Considering your ingredient goes even further. To really enhance flavor you have to mindful of what goes into the vinaigrette.
For example, I prefer to not use olive oil in a vinaigrette to dress butter lettuce, but instead a nutty oil like almond or hazelnut. Butter lettuces love nutty oils, trust me.
Another quick tip for making salad: Toss it with your hands, it's much for delicate than using a spoon. The vinegar is already attacking the texture of the salad so you don't want to make things worse."
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