Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sauces Chapter!

Sauces and Gravies

A piece of meat, a serving of boiled grains, and a sautéed vegetable can sit on a plate together and be a lovely meal. But add a sauce, and this meal of individual elements can be elevated to something more unified and divine.

Instant Drizzle

This sauce is so easy to make, it feels like cheating. Drizzle this on fish patties (recipe #), baked chicken (recipe #), meatloaf (recipe #), sautéed vegetables (recipe #), or even hamburgers (recipe #).

1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp yellow or Dijon mustard

Whisk these together. Then use it as a dip, or a spread, or for a fancy effect, drizzle it over your food before serving.

Universal Gravy

This recipe can be used to make many different sorts of gravies and sauces. The combination of a fat, flour, and liquid is also used to make the sauce in many sorts of stews (recipes # and #).

1 tbsp fat, such as butter, bacon grease, chicken fat, or oil
1 tbsp flour
1 cup liquid, such as chicken stock, beef stock, milk, or tomato sauce. (Use less for a thicker sauce, or more for stew liquid.)
Salt (omit the salt if using a salty broth)
Other spices (optional)

In a skillet on medium heat, heat the fat until it is melted and hot. Add the flour, and whisk it around for a few minutes. Then add the liquid, continuing to whisk. Bring the sauce to a boil and then continue to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. (It will thicken even more after it cools.) Season to taste with pepper and salt. (Though salt may not be necessary if you started with a salty broth from a can or made from bullion.)

Thick Beef Gravy (quick ingredient)

2 tbsp of fat from beef pan drippings, or drippings from cooked hamburger, or butter or oil
2 tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth

Follow the Universal Gravy directions (recipe #).

Chicken Gravy (quick ingredient)

2 tbsp chicken fat, butter, or oil
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth (recipe #)
(optional) 1 cup milk

Follow the Universal Gravy directions (recipe #). Add milk to make the gravy Southern-style.

Southern Breakfast Gravy (quick ingredient)

This, served over toast or biscuits, makes a hearty Southern breakfast.

2 tbsp butter, or bacon or breakfast sausage drippings
2 tbsp flour
1 ½ cups milk
½ to 1 cup cooked, chopped bacon (recipe #) or breakfast sausage (recipe #) (optional)

Follow the Universal Gravy directions (recipe #). OR, cook some chopped bacon or sausage until done, remove some of the fat from the pan if necessary, and then continue making the gravy in the pan without removing the meat. Add lots of pepper for a traditional Southern taste. Serve immediately. When reheating leftovers, add a little more milk.

Enchilada Sauce (quick ingredient)

Use this with reheated chicken, tortillas, and some grated cheese to make quick soft tacos.

1 tbsp chicken fat, butter, or oil
1 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth (recipe #)
1 cup tomato sauce, OR 2 tbsp tomato paste and ½ cup water or chicken broth
(optional) minced onion or garlic, as much as you like.
1 tsp cumin
hot pepper to taste

Sauté the optional onion in the fat, add the optional garlic, and then follow the Universal Gravy directions (recipe #). Season to taste.

Cheese Sauce
(quick meal ingredient)

Cheese sauce is a good topping for pasta or vegetables. Use it to make that all-time favorite, mac-n-cheese (recipe #).

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese (any kind)

Follow the instructions for Universal Gravy (recipe #). Remove the pan from the heat. Then, when the sauce has stopped boiling, sprinkle in the cheese and stir until melted. Do not boil the sauce once it contains cheese, or the cheese will curdle into unfortunate lunps.

Basic Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
(prepare in advance)

When tomatoes are in season, it’s a great time to buy lots. Save them for year-round recipes by turning them into tomato sauce. Tomato sauce freezes beautifully. You will need freezer bags or plastic boxes for this.

You may want to peel your tomatoes first, for a smooth sauce, but this step is optional.

You may want to leave your sauce unseasoned if you are making lots for later. Then, when you thaw out individual containers of sauce, you can try out different spices. Tomato sauce can be used for more than just pasta: Mexican and Indian dishes are just two other types of food that can be made with tomato sauce. (recipes # and #)Tomato sauce can also go into soups (recipe #) and stews (recipe #), or can be used to braise pot roast (recipe #) or smaller pieces of meat (recipe #).

lots of tomatoes
a little bit of oil

You will need two pots on the stove, a bowl of cold water, and a slotted spoon. Start by filling the smaller pot with water and setting it to boil. In the larger pot, which will be your sauce pot, put a few tablespoons of oil and set to a medium heat.

Place as many washed tomatoes in the boiling water as will fit. Watch for their skin to split. Once the skin splits, use the slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes into the bowl of cold water. (You can use ice to keep the water cold, or refill from the tap as necessary.)

Once the tomatoes in the cold water have cooled enough to handle, squeeze the tomato out of its skin and into the sauce pot. Discard the skin. Repeat, until you have peeled them all (or you have filled your sauce pot.)

If you decide to make sauce with the tomato skins on, just put the washed tomatoes directly into the sauce pot, and start cooking them.

Stir the tomatoes and continue to cook them until they are soft enough to be mashed with a potato masher. When they are mashed to your satisfaction, the sauce is done. Let it cool before going in the freezer. Or, you can add whatever seasonings that you like, and eat it right away.

If you prefer a thicker sauce, continue to simmer the pot with the lid off, stirring occasionally, for up to several hours.

Marinara Sauce
(quick meal)

Marinara sauce is the standard Italian tomato sauce that is served over pasta. Here are some variations:

Marinara from Canned Tomatoes. Combine one small can of tomato paste with one or several cans of crushed, diced, or whole canned tomatoes. Heat on the stove or microwave. Add Italian spices and season to taste. Serve over pasta.

Marinara from Frozen Basic Tomato Sauce. Thaw out the desired amount of your home made tomato sauce (recipe #) either in the microwave, or on the counter or in the refrigerator. Heat on the stove or microwave. Add Italian spices and season to taste. Serve over pasta.

Marinara with Ground Meat. Sauté the ground meat of your choice in a little oil until browned (recipe #). Add chopped onion or garlic if you desire. Add to this one small can of tomato paste with one or several cans of crushed, diced, or whole canned tomatoes. Add Italian spices and season to taste. Serve over pasta.

Marinara with Vegetables. Sauté the chopped vegetables of your choice in a little oil until slightly wilted. Add to this one small can of tomato paste with one or several cans of crushed, diced, or whole canned tomatoes. Add Italian spices and season to taste. Serve over pasta.

Tomato-Paste Pizza Sauce

If you are making pizza, either from scratch, from store-bought dough, or if you are making pizza bread, you can use marinara sauce as your pizza sauce. However, marinara sauce is a bit watery as a pizza topping. This recipe makes a thicker sauce that is less likely to leave your crust soggy.

Usually when vegetables are canned, they lose nutrition. Tomatoes are an exception to this rule, however, and tomato paste is the most nutrient-rich form of tomatoes you can find!

1 small can tomato paste
¼ cup water
Dried or minced garlic to taste
Dried or minced onion to taste
Other Italian herbs to taste, such as oregano or basil
(optional) sugar to taste

Mix all of the ingredients, then use in your pizza recipe.

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