Stocks & sauces focus: Time to take stock

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Related tags: Cooking, Starch, Beef

Sauces are the building blocks of most cookery - and one of the first skills you should check when employing kitchen staff. But we all need a...

Sauces are the building blocks of most cookery - and one of the first skills you should check when employing kitchen staff. But we all need a refresher now and then - do you really know your starch from your béchamel?

Refer to our handy guide, courtesy of the 'cook basic hot and cold sauces' module of the NVQ level 2 in Food Preparation and Cooking.

A stock is a liquid that has been formed by extracting flavours, nutrients and salts during the cooking process from bones, vegetables and aromatic herbs. It is clear in appearance, has a delicate flavour and is clear of grease.

Types of stock include white beef stock, brown beef stock, vegetable stock, chicken stock and fish stock.

A glaze is a reduction of stock, formed by evaporation of the liquid. It can be stored and used to enhance the flavour of other stocks and sauces, and can be reconstituted by adding water.

There are three main types of thickening agent used in the production of a sauce: Roux, Beurre Manie, and Starches.

Roux​: A roux

  • is a mixture of flour and fat, gently cooked together over low heat.
  • White Roux: cooked for 2 -3 mins, white in colour.
  • Blond Roux: cooked for 3 - 5 mins, until a sandy colour.
  • Brown Roux: cooked for 10 - 15 mins, until brown in colour

Beurre Manie​: This is an equal mixture of flour and butter, kneaded together and then whisked into the liquid in small quantities, thickening as it cooks out. It is also known as a cold roux or pounded butter.

Starches​: Cornflour, arrowroot, potato flour, rice flour and barley flour are all used as thickening agents. Arrowroot and cornflour are the most commonly used. The starch must be mixed with cold water before adding to the hot liquid.

Other thickening agents used to make sauces include egg yolks; fruit and vegetables; blood - as in jugged hare and black pudding; and glazes.

Hot sauces

Bechamel​: this is a white roux, made with milk, with other ingredient/flavours commonly added including parsley, onion, cheese, mustard, egg and anchovy. Cooking time 34 - 40 minutes

Veloute​: a blond roux made with stock, with chicken, mushroom, fish, and caper commonly added as flavours. Cooking time 45 minutes

Espaganole​: A brown roux made with stock. The basis of a demi-glace, which in turn is used to make many other sauces including madeira, chasseur, piquant and devilled. Cooking time six hours.

Tomato​: A blond roux made with stock. Once tomatoes have been added, this is the basis for many other sauces, especially in Italian and Mediterranean cooking, with many flavour and ingredient variations. Cooking time 34 - 40 minutes.

Jus Lie​: A stock made with meat juices, thickened with arrowroot to make a gravy-style sauce. Cooking time: Two hours for the stock and 10 minutes to cook out the arrowroot.

Cold sauces

Vinaigrette​: A basic salad dressing, three parts oil to one part vinegar. Different oils and vinegars can be used, with the addition of herbs and spices, to vary the flavour.

Mayonnaise​: A mix of egg yolks, vegetable oil, salt & pepper and lemon juice, with mustard, vinegar and garlic also often added. Mayonnaise can be extended to produce sauces such as Marie Rose and tartare.

Horseradish​: Made with fresh horseradish, cream, salt & pepper and vinegar. Used to accompany roast beef and smoked dishes.

Mint sauce​: Made with fresh mint, vinegar, water and castor sugar; the traditional accompaniment to roast lamb.

Information and resources for the NVQ level 2 Food Preparation and Cooking can be found at the Quality Improvement Agency website

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