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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sauces made Simple

Friends often ask me 'what do you do to change up the basics?' or 'what else can I do, quickly, to my chicken/fish/steak?' Often my responses are spices and sauces. I find myself most often playing with pan sauces but had set a goal for myself this year to branch out a bit and so when I found this great article titled 'Sauce made simple' in the April edition of Cooking Light magazine, I knew this was a hint to get going on the sauces. Please do not let some of the fancy names such as bechamel or aioli throw you off--all of you singletons and moms can do this!

I know, some of you might say 'Aren't most sauces unhealthy?' As cooking light points out "Even rich, buttery sauces, such as bearnaise or beurre blanc, have a place in a healthy diet. Just think strategically about the foods with which you pair them. Choose steamed vegetables, fish, shellfish or other lean meats to keep total saturated fat within reasonable limits."

Cooking Light has many great sauce recipes online but I will share two in this post: red wine reduction bechamel. Since so many of my lovely friends also enjoy wines, I will start of with this Red Wine Reduction Sauce which would be great with beef, veal, venison or duck. Grab a pre-made jar of beef demi-glace to have on hand make this an even quicker option.

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
1 cup full-bodied red wine (such as cabernet sauvignon)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons Beef Demi-Glace
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 10 minutes). Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Add butter, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper.

Bechamel Sauce (great for chicken, beef, casseroles and vegetables)

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
1 1/3 cups (serving size: about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

1. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour over onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Gradually add milk to flour mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Strain mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

3. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately.

More sauce can be found here, just scroll down the page for the sauce category.


Tangled Noodle said...

I love the red wine reduction sauce! My husband loves his steak but I'm always at a loss for a sauce for it. I've got the April issue of CL - I skimmed through it but now I really need to go back and look more carefully! 8-)

Chow and Chatter said...

wow love the sauces will try them thank you

Mary said...

I'll try to get a copy of the April issue. This looks like a wonderful red wine reduction thats kind to the waist and hips.

girlichef said...

This is definitely a great way to change things up. Funny how adding/changing one little component of a meal can make it seem like a new dish!

...and sure, you could enter an older post in the chile contest if you like. Just add a link back to the challenge, maybe mention it (just a sentence would work) in your next new post and then send me a quick email with the link to the chile post and a photo! :)

Katherine Aucoin said...

I love the red wine reduction sauce. I can imagine how wonderful it is on beef!

Sippity Sup said...

Suaces, it's always good to have an array in your back pocket (so to speak). GREG

Nicole said...

Good post! It's funny, I was just telling my sister if she keeps plenty of fresh veggies, fruit and chicken breast around she can switch up the sauces and spices and make a dozen different meals with virtually the same ingredients. I'll send her a link to your blog for ideas:)

Hornsfan said...

When you start off by quoting one of my favorite cooking mags you've definitely got my eye!

Anonymous said...

Sauces are wonderful - couldn't live without them! Bechamel looks excellent on those crepes!

Kelsey B. said...

Excellent! Sauces are great and I adore red wine reduction, great ideas!

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