Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Butter Sauce. Beurre Blanc, which is the French name for it, is made by sweating shallots, adding an acid (usually wine or vinegar) reducing and then adding chilled butter. This is considered to be the purest (read right) way. Pretty easy, but there is a hotly debated issue to this sauce, does one add cream? Cream is considered cheating. It's said to be added to make the sauce more stable because butter sauce made the traditional way can be a fickle creature indeed. Too hot, it breaks. To cold it breaks when it hits a hot plate. To much butter it breaks. You get the point. I have been making beurre blanc the "right" way for more than 20 years and I have always derided those who make it with cream as cheaters, lesser cooks. If you need cream to keep the sauce then you don't know how to make it. But over the years I have seen some Michelin 3 star chefs make beurre blanc with cream and have been confused as to why. Are they cheating? Do they need to stabilize their sauces? I seriously doubt it. Most of the beurre blancs made in 3 star restaurants are made to order, so there is no need to make them stable. But why add cream? The other night I was picking up a fish dish that has a beurre blanc on it but in my hast I forgot to make the sauce (I also make my beurre blanc to order) but I had enough of a left over cream sauce still warm so I added some butter to it and made a cheaters butter sauce. I liked it. I like the way it looked. I liked the way it tasted. I thought the addition of cream gave it nice body. Since I don't make more than an order at a time I'm not interested in the stabilizing aspect of the cream addition but I liked the result in flavor and look. Tonight I made it again with the cream, this time because I wanted to and I like it. I'll be making it like this for a while to see what I really think about it. Lately I've been questioning everything I do in the kitchen. Why do I make it this way and not that way? Is this the best way for this? I have been revamping my thoughts and ways for many things I have done for the last 20ish years. Questioning ones cooking is the best way for progress. If a cook never questions why he/she does something then that cook never grows. Never gets better. I scraped the crepe recipe I was taught during my apprenticeship yesterday because I have never really like it. I came up with a new one and like it better. I've noticed what I have questioning lately is the basics I learned way back when. I'm returning to essentials of cooking and wondering what I can to better. I've changed my knife stroke when I cut chives. I've started messing around with how I poach eggs. I've noticed that I am more mindful on how high the heat is when I sauté. Do I really need everything I put into my chicken stock? Is it necessary to cook this so long? Does it really need cooked at all or can I just leave it alone? It's all really very exciting. I think at it most basic level what I'm really doing is continuing my quest to simplify my food. I have for a few years now trying to see how little I can do to the food I serve. The over riding question I continually ask myself is what is the least I can do to the dish and still make it good? And so the quest continues. It seems my life is like this. I have been coming full circle in all areas of my life and re-examining everything. It's been a very good growth period for me. I have questioned everything about myself and have been making a concerted effort to change those things about myself that are useless or need changing. I have long made the same mistakes out of habit and have over the last couple years slowly been changing my outlook and ways. I am coming up on a year since I quit drinking. I have been making an effort on my social skills, which have never been good. I am trying to make amends to those I wronged or offended in the past. I am returning to the basics of what it means to be human and am enjoying it. And so the quest continues.