Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chicken Veloute

The surf has been awful lately. This morning while I was floating around and waiting a long, long time for a wave, I started to think about sauces and how I needed to refine my skills. Like Chef from Apocalypse Now, I guess. I've always loved that scene where Chef is walking through the jungle talking about how he was supposed to study at the Escoffier School in Paris, but got drafted instead. And then the tiger pops out and they run like hell, machine guns blazing.

     So anyway, there I was floating around Santa Monica Bay and thinking that while I've made a chicken veloute as part of a dish (vol au vent with creamy chicken filling), I hadn't really made it all on its own. I went home and that's what I did. No real reason, really. I just wanted to perfect that sauce and focus on that one thing. I figure that if I can't master the Mother Sauces, then what the hell business do I have calling myself a competent home cook?

Chicken Veloute

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

1. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, prepare a white roux by melting the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour a bit at a time until smooth.

3. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the stock. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook until the taste of the flour has vanished. This may take 10 to 20 minutes. You may skim any skin that forms on the surface with a spoon. Whisk frequently.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer if necessary.

Chicken veloute, like the other mother sauces, is a fundamental cooking skill. It's like the bottom turn of surfing. If you can't pop up, take the drop and bottom turn, well, you're not surfing. The chicken veloute can be used as a sauce on meat or pasta, and can also be used as a base for soup. The chicken veloute can be enhanced with cream and other elements to form other sauces.

The beach this morning

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