Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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.