Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chorizo Sauce

Maybe you recall, back in September I wrote about a dinner I planned to cook for a couple describing their likes and dislikes, and asking you all for suggestions. Well I cooked their meal not this past Sunday, but the one before that and in my opinion and I think in the opinion of the diners it was a success. I would definitely go as far as to say that this was the best meal I've ever cooked. The thought, the work and the technique I applied to this dinner far surpassed anything I've done before.

Unfortunately, I can't post about it right now, because the pictures of the dishes are on the couple's camera, and they haven't sent me a cd with the photos yet. Instead, I'll talk about my chorizo sauce, my favorite part of the whole dinner not only because of it's taste, but because of the process involved in creating it.

There it was, a huge pot of chorizo and liquid in a massive pot just sitting in the kitchen. I'm actually surprised that I remember it this clearly, but then again, how could I forget. I was walking back into the kitchen from the dish room, and then I saw it, just sitting there, unattended. I grabbed a few pieces of spicy, delicious chorizo, before the creator of the sauce, Billy came over and said "no try the sauce." I spooned some out and it was incredible complex. It had some many layers of flavor. It was garlicky and slightly sweet- carrots and onions were definitely in there, and spicy from the chorizo. A touch of cream balanced all the flavors. I asked him how he made it while I scribbled instructions in my "chef's journal," where it lay dormant until just recently when it erupted with flavor on a plate with roasted broccoli and scallops.

Sauce making is involved. It takes skill and technique and experience. I remember before I had spent much time at Lacroix, I tried to make a bordelaise sauce from the French Laundry Cookbook--I failed. Another time I tried to make a chicken jus to accompany some roast chicken, and found myself virtually dipping my chicken into water. On an even simpler level, I remember a time at Lacroix when I was put in charge of the vinaigrette for the salad of the day, and I couldn't get it to emulsify. I just stayed broken and had to be scrapped. Average Joe off the street could easily sous vide a chicken breast, but it's much less likely that he would be able to create a thick, rich demi-glace.

Once you get a feel for it though (and I'm really no authority on sauce making) and get a hold of some basics, it's much easier to achieve your desired results. One other thing--using good chicken stock is very important. If you have a good gelatinous stock, your sauce will have nice body and will reduce down to a nice consistency. Store bought stock just won't give you the same body but if it's your only option, use it.

To make this chorizo sauce, render some fresh chorizo in a large pot (I used my beloved Dutch oven). I actually just took the chorizo out of the casing and got it really nice and brown. I then added some onion, garlic, and carrot and just sweated those veggies in the chorizo fat. I then roasted that at 450 for about 20 minutes. Then I deglazed with a little red wine, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom and adding homemade chicken stock and some sage to cover the chorizo. I cooked it down until it coated the back of a spoon.

In the end I decided not to add any cream, I thought it was perfect as it was. I also decided to leave the chorizo in the sauce, because it was just so tasty. Once you understand the process, it's really all about you, the saucier.


James said...

Sounds like a trip to taste city. I do this with pasta or gnocci every so often - could be every day, but you have to control yourself. Great risotto base too.

cd0103 said...

I can't wait for your post on the dinner. This sauce sounds wonderful!

craigkite said...

Mangoes again! "Chef" in Apocalypse Now was a saucier. He met the local Stray Cats while looking for mangoes. Wouldn't have happened with grapes, maybe kiwi fruit, but not grapes. He was coveting the mangoes in a big way, and it almost cost him his life.
So if you are going to become a saucier, you might want to give some more thought to these fruits you been letting take over in March Madness.

"Willard -The machinist,
the one they called Chef, was from New Orleans. He was wrapped too tightfor Vietnam...probably wrapped too tight for New Orleans."

Chef -"&*^k it. I want to
go get some mangoes.

Willard -Chef.

Chef -Yes, sir?

Willard -How come they
call you that?

Chef -Call me what, sir?

Willard -Chef. Because you like mangoes and stuff?

Chef -No, sir. I'm a real chef. I'm a saucier.

Willard -Saucier?

Chef -Yes, sir. See, I come from New Orleans.I was raised to be a saucier. Great saucier.

Willard -What's a saucier?

Chef -We specialize in sauces. Got to be a mango tree here somewhere. Then I was supposed to go to Paris, study at the Escoffier school.
Then I got orders for my physical.
Hell, I joined the navy. Heard they had better food. Cook school, that did it.

Willard - How's that?

Chef -Oh, you don't want to hear about that. They lined us up in front of a hundred yards of prime rib. All of us lined up looking at it.
Magnificent meat. Really Beautifully marbled. Magnifique.
Next thing they're throwing the meat into these big cauldrons.
All of it. Boiling it. I looked inside, man. It was turning gray."


Moral: "Never get out of the boat." Especially for Mangoes.

Mike Kelch said...

Your blog is so entertaing and so much fun to read! You actually convinced me to finally start my own food blog, something I have been wanting to do for quite some time. Keep up the good work and maybe others will be inspired like me.

Tom said...

That looks amazingly good. I'm sure that would be amazing with shellfish.