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Thursday, November 1, 2012


Classical French cooking puts a great deal of significance to sauce cookery. The working French kitchen dedicates a cook on sauce preparation; in fact the saucier is ranked only behind the sous chef in the cooking brigade. Classically, there are five "mother sauces" from which others are based on. But we gleefully threw all these conceits out the window while cooking for Foodapalooza 2012

The challenge was to prepare sauces from quintessentially New England ingredients: blueberries, rhubarb, and cranberries, and pair them in savory preparations. Both the berries involved the same basic sauce direction: heat the berries (straight out of the freezer, I might add) on a sauce pan, adjusted with sugar for sweetness, and add complementary spices. For blueberries, I chose chipotle pepper and cumin. I wanted smoky overtones, with a gentle back heat. The cranberries, however, were a platform for fall sunshine: lemon peel and lemongrass, and a touch of maple syrup. I wish I could post an exact recipe, but the quantities will vary depending on the flavor the berries harvested. 

Rhubarb, I went a different route - I roasted it. Laid the chunks on a sheet pan with a sprinkle of sugar and a touch of olive oil and a hot oven. After I got little bits of char, I dumped it into a bowl, and mashed it while it was warm with slivers of raw ginger, tasting to adjust with more sugar or salt. 

Not that the item we were pairing the sauces needed much help: beer battered bacon. 

Beer battered bacon with New England Sauces.
To make, start with good bacon. We had some amazing stuff. Cut it into thicker slices. The beer batter is 50% rice flour, 50% AP flour, egg whites we had left over from making ice cream, baking powder, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, and enough beer to make a thick batter (we used the hoppy Harpoon Ale). Allow it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum. Bacon slices can be dipped directly into the batter (it'll stick), and then into hot oil and fry until golden brown and delicious. Try not to burn yourself. Dip chunks into the sauces.

The blueberry chipotle sauce did double duty in a second dish:

Duck, blueberry sauce on sourdough.

What's great about dishes like these is that it's all about technique. Duck breast is scored, seasoned with salt, and put into a searing hot pan skin side down. The fat will render out, and make a nice crispy skin. Sourdough was inoculated the day before, and baked earlier in the day. We toasted it, buttered, laid the duck slice, and a dollop of blueberry sauce.

Chives are there to make it look like we have green stuff on the plate. 

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