Basic Velouté

One of the things that really appeals to me about “The New Making of a Cook” is the chapter on sauces.  Ever since I have learned that they exist, I have wanted to learn how to make the “mother sauces.”  This first one took quite a long time, but the results were very delicious.

The chapter we worked from, “A Multinational Society: Sauces from All Over the World,” has a long introduction.  It talks about Roman Sauces, Sauces in the Middle Ages, The Renaissance and the Italian Connection, and The Emergence of French Sauces.  Next, we get into French and Western Sauces in the Twentieth Century.  Just before the actual recipe we tried, the book recommends that you read pages 268-275 so as to become familiar with “the theory of starch- and flour-bound sauces.”  I read these pages and it was quite helpful.

Basic Velouté printable recipe

FFR – 2 1/2 quarts medium texture

1 cup butter, preferably unsalted

1 cup unsifted unbleached all-purpose flour

3 quarts hot classic white stock of your choice, or Secondary Stock (page 220), or fish fumet (page 543)

1 cup chopped mushroom stems

Small bouquet garni

4 white peppercorns

2 cups classic white stock of your choice, at room temperature

Make white roux with the butter and flour (see page 272), cooking 10 to 12 minutes.  Off the theat, whisk in the 3 quarts of hot stock in two separate additions.  Bring back to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Add the mushrooms, bouquet garni, and peppercorns.  Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming 2 to 3 times.

Add the 2 cups room temperature stock and, without stirring, bring to a boil again.  Turn down to a simmer, skimming again at regular intervals until totally fat- and scum-free.  Let the velouté reduce to the consistency you personally prefer.  Strain through a China cap into 1 1/2-cup freezer containers.  Cool to 140F, then to room temperature in a cold water bath; seal well and immediately freeze or refrigerate.  Will keep refrigerated, 2 days; frozen, 3 months.

First thing we did was make a bouquet garni.  A bouquet garni consists of a bundle of fresh thyme, fresh parsley, and a bay leaf or two.  Willow tied one together.

Willow helped me remove the stems from the mushrooms and I chopped them.  I had to use a few of the caps to make a whole cup.

All of our ingredients, ready to be made into velouté!  The stock was a packaged chicken stock that I found at our local grocery store.

Heating up the stock.

This is page 272 of the book, where it says how to cook a roux, since the recipe simply says, “make white roux with the butter and flour.”  Here is what it says:

“Use a heavy-bottomed pot that carries heat evenly (copper, enameled cast-iron, copper-dressed-bottom saucepan).”  If you don’t have the proper pan, you could try using a double boiler.

“Heat the fat, preferably butter, until the foam recedes; you can also use clarified butter or, for a controlled-fat diet, corn or sunflower oil.  When using any oil which can heat to high temperatures, and can damage the flour, heat it over moderate heat.

“Add the unsifted flour off the heat; mix well and return the pot to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for a suitable length of time, using the chart below as a guideline [see the above chart, in the photo].  A white roux looks straw yellow, a golden roux, golden yellow.

Because we had a full cup of butter and flour, we used the 8-minute cooking time for our recipe.

Melting the butter.  We are never sure what they mean by “until the foam recedes,” but Willow and I watched it and took it off when it mostly looked close enough.

Adding the flour off the heat.

Back on the heat.

Stirring occasionally.

Our white roux is ready.

Back off the heat to whisk in the stock.  We got our trusty Joel (Willow’s daddy, my husband) to take photos.  Willow whisks.

Second addition of stock.

Back on the heat.

We watched and watched, and agreed that this was a boil.  It was pretty thick.

Adding the mushrooms.

Adding the bouquet garni.

We could not find white peppercorns at the store, so we used regular black peppercorns.

Now everything is in and it’s time to wait.

As the mixture simmers, a scum forms on the top.  According to a discussion on page 273 of the book, “the scum is made of some of the proteins and fibers contained in the flour.  Below the scum is a layer of liquid fat; it is the butter, fat, or oil used to prepare the roux.”  You can see little pockets of fat in the above photo.

When skimming, you should use the long edge of the spoon and not the tip.  That makes it easier to get all the scum and fat off the surface.  The sauce form a skin on top, and under the skin is the scum and fat.

Simmering sauce.  We added 2 cups of room temperature stock after 30 minutes of simmering.

A closeup of a spoon full of fat.

You can see the skin on the surface here.

We put the stuff we skimmed off into this bowl.  Here is what it looked like.

Finally, after quite a long time, here is what our sauce looked like.  It was at the right consistency, so it was time to strain it.

We don’t have a China cap, so I just used a regular strainer.  I looked at the equipment section of the book and it said that if we didn’t have a China cap, which is an expensive and specialized item, that a regular strainer would be fine.

What it looked like after straining.

Cooling to 140 degrees.

In the cold water bath.  I ended up freezing most of it, but I kept one container in the fridge to try.  It was very flavorful and non-greasy.  I am very glad we went to all the trouble of skimming it, even though it took forever.

Join us next time as we move on to the chapter on vegetables.  We will be doing artichokes!

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