Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Why should I make a sauce when I can buy one in a can or jar?

Sauces are fantastic.  Few things can sufficiently change the main protein part of the meal sufficiently to make the same protein palatable day after day.  For example, if you make chicken every day for a week, but use a completely different sauce every day, it won’t seem like you are eating the same meal.

There is a very practical reason to make sauces, though.

Have you ever noticed the bits stuck in the pan after cooking?  These bits are called fond, from the french word meaning foundation.  As in, the foundation for sauce.  These bits are what are formed by the Maillard Reactions, which are a series of chemical reactions that occur when high heat is applied during cooking. Those bits left in the pan are LOADED with flavor.  And they are very, very difficult to clean from the pan.  Unless you make a sauce!

When you make a sauce, the first step is generally to deglaze the pan.  Deglazing the pan is very simple — pour a small amount of liquid (preferably a room temperature or slightly warm and not a cold liquid) into the hot pan.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, and those little stubborn bits will come right off.

I generally find that I prefer a cream sauce.  Here are a couple of cream sauces that you can try.  These are both based on the bechamel sauce, one of the french ‘mother sauces,’ and the basis for nearly every cream sauce.  Cream alone or cream with milk should be used.  They derive their flavor from the cream scalding when it hits the hot pan.

Once the meat is removed from the pan, follow the instructions below.

‘Sawmill’ Gravy

If there is already a fair amount of fat in the pan, add a heaping tablespoon of flour to the pan.  Otherwise, add a tablespoon of butter and wait to add the flour until the butter melts (med-low heat).  Turn the heat up and stir with the wooden spoon.  When the mixture changes states (it will start to look different and lose some of the bread-like scent), add some cream and milk and turn the heat up to high.  stir with the spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the stuck-on-bits removed.  Add a little chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Once the liquid is boiling, the sauce will not thicken any further.  If it is too thick, add some more stock and stir to integrate.  In about 5 minutes, you have a fresh from scratch cream sauce!

Alfredo

(Notice the beginning part of this sauce is the same as the gravy)  If there is already a fair amount of fat in the pan, add a heaping tablespoon of flour to the pan.  Otherwise, add a tablespoon of butter and wait to add the flour until the butter melts (med-low heat).  Turn the heat up and stir with the wooden spoon.  When the mixture changes states (it will start to look different and lose some of the bread-like scent), add some cream and milk(totaling about a cup) and turn the heat up to high.  stir with the spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the stuck-on-bits removed.  Add some herbs (parsley or an Italian herb blend), a crushed garlic clove and some (1.5 cups) parmesan cheese.  I also like to put in about a tablespoon of dijon mustard.  In about 5 minutes, you have a fresh from scratch cream sauce!

These are two sauces that I frequently use.  The total time to make these is less than 10 minutes.

If you find that the cream sauce is hard to clean from the pan, I find this method helpful.  Once your pan has cooled (you should avoid quickly cooling a pan using water), put in some soap and fill the pan with water.  Put it over high heat and bring to a boil.  Kill the heat and let it cool.  Dump the water and wash the pan.  It should come clean very easily.  If you still have a some stubborn stuff stuck, use Barkeepers Friend (I prefer the powdered form) with a bar towel or soft sponge.  Barkeepers Friend is approved for use on most fine cookware.

 

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Category: Food
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