Yeah. And that woman is me. Believe me, I’m no professional chef nor am I a professionally trained cook, but the one thing I do well is a sauce.
So true. Not only is my taste in classic clothing strong, but my taste for a classic sauce is the same!
Let me also add that as I continue on my weight loss journey, I refuse to starve myself. If I starve, I will become cranky. If I become cranky I will become resentful. If I become resentful I will become very bitchy to Bonaparte. My phone conversations with Oona will have her saying “Mom.” “You need to stop this.”
If’n I don’t eat. I get very cranky and resentful!
And so—because the cool weather is here, and the days are becoming shorter, Bonaparte and I have resumed our “Saturday Night Feaster”. Last Saturday we opened up the Feaster Season with Chicken Veronique—which I wrote about in Thursday’s post.
But I really want to touch upon what truly makes a meal special. The sauce.
If you want to get a better understanding of what I mean when I talk sauce, check out Netflix and watch the film “King Georges” about French chef Georges Perrier. When I saw the film last week for the first time, a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that I am just like him with the sauce obsession. I wrote to him but he didn’t write back. Just another delusion in “The Life Of My”!
If you like French food–and want to know why Perrier is so passionate, watch this movie! It is great and very entertaining. You WILL laugh!
And though I am just as passionate about my sauces as Georges is, I don’t smoke. Hmmm..maybe falling ashes into a sauce will give it a more “smoky” taste!
But I made Bonaparte watch this documentary Friday evening and he was quite entertained by it. I wanted Bonaparte to understand just how passionate Perrier was about sauces–especially since Bonaparte insists on sauces with our weekend meals!
Anyway, last night we had Cornish Hen. Now—Cornish hen is fine on its own. But to make it truly spectacular, you need a sauce. I’m not talking about heavy, consistency-as-thick-as-paste gravy. I’m talking about a true sauce.
You don’t need flour to make a thicker sauce. And you don’t need to go to the grocery store to buy a jarred sauce that cost about the same as making it from scratch. And when you make a sauce at home, you are using fresh ingredients. Caveat: If you cannot find dried cherries, substitute with the “cherry” craisins.
What you do need to make a great sauce is time. And patience. That’s why I don’t do sauces in the summer. I don’t have the patience during the hot weather months to stand guard over the hot pot.
My only exception is Béarnaise because I can make it in the blender.
Photo from Wikipedia because I am too lazy to look through my own photos. ANyway, this is the color of a good Bearnaise. I’m a firm believer in the more tarragon in the recipe, the better!
I started off using Julia Child’s recipe but realized that Tyler Florence’s is more user-friendly. (Click that purple printing for his recipe. It is very easy and not intimidating!)Now I just use my own instincts.
Child recommends Bearnaise for chicken and fried fish. I’m sorry but I would never put a Bearnaise on chicken. I’m iffy about putting it on fish too but for the birds. No. Just my opinion!
The Julia Child recipe for Bearnaise. As you can tell from the filthy mess of these pages, I’ve used this recipe–a lot! Truth be told–it’s the only recipe from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” that I use. I know this is sacrilegious, and as much as I love watching her on old TV shows, I find her recipes to be very convoluted to read properly.
Anyway, back to the sauce I made last night. I don’t know about you, but our cold-weather Saturdays are spent usually running errands in the earlier part of the day and relaxing during the afternoon. This is the time I start the prep work for our dinner.
I’ll show you in pics what I did last night because it’s so much easier than my rambling. My apologies my friends!
Tonight it is Cornish Hen with my very own Cognac Cherry Rosemary Creme Sauce and Turnip greens!
I “Spatchcock” the little birds.
The little birds covered with red onion and waiting to be prepped with a herbed butter in between the meat and the skin, topped with canned cherries and into the oven.
Now for the sauce:
The backbones of the hen, along with necks and gizzards are brought to a boil and simmered for an hour. I also add some salt and pepper. The broth will reduce to about a cup.
This photo was taken before I ran back to the store for fresh Rosemary. I had to go to more than one store. Believe me, the Rosemary is what adds the extra depth and flavor to this sauce. Here’s the ingredients. If you cannot find regular dried cherries, (Trader Joe’s has ’em) the cherry Craisins are a fine substitute.
Let the dried cherries/craisins soak in about a cup of the cognac–but you will need more cognac later…
I forgot to take a photo, but while the cherries are draining and the Craisins are soaking and the broth is cooking, peel and mince one large or two small shallots. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan, add the shallots and cook them until transparent.
Now you are going to keep an eye on the sauce like a nosy neighbor!
Add the broth to the cooked shallots, and cook it till reduced to about a half of a cup, add the cognac soaked Craisins and the cognac that you soaked them in…
Let it boil until it reduces a bit more…
Then add the cream. Cook this until it boils–and let it boil until it almost reaches the top of the sauce pan–then lower the flame to below a simmer. KEEP STIRRING. Add more cognac, salt and pepper (use white pepper) and a couple of sprigs of Rosemary as well as chopped Rosemary. Let it cook on low for about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste it to see if you need more cognac. Take it off the heat and let it rest while the hens cook.
And after the hens are cooked and taken out of the oven to rest for a few minutes, put the sauce back on over a low flame and add two tablespoons of COLD or CHILLED butter. The cold butter thickens the sauce and makes it super-silky!
While the food cooks, it is time to enjoy an aperitif or two. We looked through this book about Bonaparte’s grandfather while enjoying our Kir Royals!
Cornish Hen plated and….
The silkiest, smooth and most flavorful sauce ready to be spooned over the birds!
Bonaparte is looking forward to more dinners with sauces–maybe next weekend it’ll be steak au poivre or steak with Madeira sauce…
Steak with Mushrooms, Foie Gras and Madeira sauce. I”ll do a step-by-step next time I make this!
See? You CAN enjoy a good and hearty meal while losing weight–just don’t do it every night! And you CAN have a great sauce without being heavy or using a ton of flour!
Oh..and after dinner, we watched a GREAT movie starring Vincent Lindon. “The Measure of a Man”. I HIGHLY recommend this film to ANYONE who has lost a job and has been on the search for a long time. It is gripping and intense. To make matters more gut-wrenching, Lindon’s character has a special needs child. It is filmed documentary-style. And there isn’t a ton of dialogue but Lindon acts mostly with his eyes and facial expressions. He definitely deserved the Cesar award last year for best actor. If you have Netflix–you are lucky because it was recently added!
The remarkable Vincent Lindon in a very emotional film–it doesn’t get more real than this!
Yeah. Let me know if you love a good sauce or if you’ve tried your hand at sauces–or what you think of sauces in general! I’m the nosy neighbor!!! Let me know if you’ve seen the two movies mentioned here too!!!!
Today’s song is a sort of “Six Degrees of Separation”. Sandrine Kiberlain. She’s a French actress but also a singer–and I picked up her CD on one of my trips to Paris–it ended up to be one of my faves and I love this song “Le Quotidien”. But–it turns out she used to be married to Vincent Lindon!! Anyway, it is a very sweet song and her voice is just so very soothing!