Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook's Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors: Susan Volland
by Nick Harman - Sunday January 3, 2016 1:01 pm
Hard to argue with those opening words from this mighty, big book. The author worked on Modernist Cuisine. The art and science of Cooking and so, naturally, knows a lot about the art and a science of sauces. She is not pedantic about method but at the same time she knows that there is a way of doing things and a way of not doing things. Read and learn, young Skywalker
Saucing used to be a key element in any kitchen, fine dining or not. The skill of making sauces was one that elevated the chef saucier in a classical kitchen to one of the very highest positions possible, close to Chef and Sous Chef. He or she didn’t just make sauces, of course, but that was one of the role’s most demanding responsibilities.
Today we don’t have the reverence as we used to have for classic sauces, they went a bit out of fashion when chefs discovered people would rave over any old bit of meat that had been smoked, but some places still do things the old way and the food is always more interesting as a result.
So here across 350 pages we have the bible of successful sauce making, beginning with a guide to the right kit and then The Three Fundamentals of Sauce Making - maximise flavour, manipulate texture and season confidently, all broken down across 14 or so pages with charts and a fair bit of science.
A large chapter on turning water into sauce is fascinating and very useful, as are sections on sauces on the side, updating classic French sauces, syrups and sweet sauces plus a chapter on Making sauces like a Pro with endearing subheads such as I’ve got chicken and I need a sauce right now. We’ve all been there.
On every page can be found lucid explanation, firm fundamentals, some science, some art, lightly worn knowledge and profound understanding of what goes on in that pan, all delivered in a winning conversational style.
There are 150 recipes, dietary alternatives, simple throw-together sauces and even how to rescue disasters, because even the best chefs can make mistakes. With this book you can probably even make Bearnaise sauce successfully, I know I did.
This is not a book that tries to take us back to the 1970s; there is no whiff of rancid Cordon Bleu about it, just an appreciation of saucing and a modern interpretation of what saucing means and what it can do. A must for the serious cook's bookshelf, an indispensable reference and sauce (sic) of inspiration.