Cooking with the Fonds: Cooking Class – Week 2

This week in cooking class, after a quick review of our knife cuts from last week, we learned three pan sauces:

  • Brandy Mustard Cream Sauce for Chicken
  • Rosemary Pan Sauce for Pork Chop
  • Maple Orange Sauce for Salmon

We sautéed each of the meats in a stainless steel pan first; removed the meat to a plate, and then used the same pan to create our sauce, using the fond from the meat as a base.  I learned to have all the  ingredients ready to go before starting the process (mise en place); once this is in place, time to hit the stove! 

It was somewhat chaotic with 11 other students trying to navigate around a new kitchen.  Honestly, it felt like a  Top Chef Quick-Fire Challenge once we began sautéing the meat!  I’m used to baking, and most of my recent cooking exploits have been about roasting and soups – two very slow processes from start to finish, compared to these recipes we were re-creating.  While I may have been one of the last to finish my Brandy Mustard Cream Sauce with Chicken, I think Padma and Tom would have enjoyed my creation :-).  Some important points that I will definitely try to apply moving forward:

  • The first step in creating a pan sauce is to brown the meat.  Season with salt and pepper and then dredge the meat in seasoned flour and pat off excess to that the flour is barely noticeable.  The flour will help thicken the sauce and brown the meat.  We did this for the chicken, pork and salmon pieces.
  • It is often more economical to purchase your chicken at the meat counter at your supermarket – you could save $1 to $2 a pound, and then when you get home, you trim the meat of the visible fat.   Butterfly the chicken to increase its yield and pound the chicken to achieve an even thickness throughout for cooking.
  • “Let it Snow” – season your meat with salt and pepper by positioning your hand well above the meat so that when you sprinkle seasoning, it is evenly dispersed as if it is snowing.
  • The fond is a critical part of creating a flavorful sauce.
  • Use Clarified butter when sautéing.  It cooks at a high temperature without burning.  The butter may be created ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator to use when cooking meats. 
  • After sautéing  salmon, put in the oven at 300 degrees to finish it off.  During that time you can work on the sauce – both should be finished around the same time.

If you like sweet flavors with your proteins as I do, we made a very quick, easy and delicious sauce for salmon:  Combine 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup orange juice in a heated sauté pan after cooking the floured salmon (you can even substitute honey for the maple syrup).   Once combined, use a wire whisk for about 4-5 minutes until the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Remove the salmon from the oven (as above), plate, pour the sauce over and enjoy!

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