Secrets of Herbert's Kitchen

Gravy, stock, sauce, jus………..Everyone always asks how we chefs do it!

To my mind the sauce is absolute key and the most important part of a dish, it brings out the flavour, it enhances, it compliments or creates a contrast.

In my kitchen a sauce will have gone through three to five and more stages before it ends up on your plate but I will try and give you some hints how to make them at home.

A good sauce starts with a stock and at home a simple way of doing this is: when you have roasted a chicken or any other roast you save all the bones, trimmings and residue of the roasting tray and put it in a fitting pot, cover it with cold water and bring it to simmer. Put a lid on it and keep simmering slowly for 3 to 5 and more hours toping it up with cold water when needed. You can stop this process any time, cool it down, put it in the fridge and put it back on the next day when you are cooking again. This could go on for two to five days and if you have any other meat trimmings like lamb or beef in the meantime just add them. Eventually you should have a good strong stock which should be jellified. Strain it, reduce it until quite strong and sticky and store it in jars. Leave any fat on it as it will seal the stock which will help to keep it longer. Store in the fridge, if it is well made and well enough reduced it will keep for weeks, even a month.

When you next make a roast or a meat dish just take some of this stock and add it to your dish or use it to make the Sunday roast gravy or a fortified sauce, like with mushrooms, shallots, wines, fortified wines, truffles, herbs, pepper sauces, cream sauces and so on.

You can of course buy any meat trimmings or cheaper cuts of meat, chop them up, roast them in the oven and follow the same method, this will give you an even stronger result. Also, if you have a jar of stock in the fridge that has been there a while and you generate some more trimmings just repeat the same process and add this stock to it, it will make it even better.

Chicken or veal stock is very useful as a base for any sauce, it will immediately give it a boost and a nice velvety texture and enhance the Sunday roast.

Another tip is to cook the stock/sauce in a casserole in the oven with a lid on it (just like a stew), this will stop the house from smelling too much or steaming up which should please the boss whoever it is! ;)

There is no need to add any herbs or vegetables at this stage as the final flavour should be added towards the end but if you have a few onion bits, parsley stalks, garlic, celery and perhaps an overripe tomato do put it in.

Don’t leave the stock on overnight!


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