Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thanksgiving Suprême

When I set out to write a novel based around warring chefs, I was faced with the reality that I had very little concept of cuisine. That's not to say that I couldn't cook, but that since my tastes are fairly simplistic I'd never ventured to try many of the more 'advanced' culinary techniques which my characters would be well-acquainted with. So over the past six months or so I've been picking my way through Auguste Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire, seeing what I can pick up which is both realistic to cook in a modern-day kitchen and that might stretch both my culinary talents and tastes.

I've been focusing particularly on creating and playing around with the possibilities of roux-based sauces, with the intent of working my way through the five 'mother sauces' sooner or later, and when Thanksgiving crept up on Jenny & I last week, it was time to move beyond the béchamel and simple cheese sauces and try something a little more exciting: a suprême sauce!

(Note: I'm not much for following specific recipes, so I won't be providing exact amounts of ingredients and the like. Nor am I much for tradition, so I'll undoubtedly be committing all sorts of culinary faux pas which would get me knifed in some dark Leparien backalley for my crimes against cuisine. Finally, no-one seems to be able to agree on a precise definition of a suprême, so I researched the general concept & creation of the sauce, and can then play around with flavours and so on over the next few months. Damn, looks like I'm going to have to buy more double cream.)

The basic principle of a suprême is as follows:
- Create a roux from equal parts butter and flour.
- Instead of adding milk as you would for a béchamel or cheese sauce, add hot stock to the roux, whisk and simmer for half an hour or so to create a velouté, a velvety stock-like sauce thickened by the roux.
- Apparently the velouté is considered more an intermediary step than anything you would serve to someone for dinner, so once you have your velouté you can turn it into a supreme by stirring in a heavy cream.

I, of course, bastardised the recipe based on whim and experimentation: we served the sauce with pork loin steaks, and as such used pre-prepared pork stock rather than the home-reduced chicken stock typically associated with suprême - Capucine Vaucher would've slipped something nasty into my drink for that slight alone - and I also poured a glass of cheap-ish Chardonnay into the stock prior to adding it to the roux, which made for a pleasant addition. The result: a thick, creamy light-brown sauce which I was so smitten with that I completely forgot to take any photos.

With salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, it was delicious, if a little overpowered by the artificiality of the over-seasoned stock. I'm looking forward to making some fresh chicken stock one of these days, then I'll have another try at this recipe and see if I can create something a little more subtle.