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Beautiful, Tasteless Sauce...


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Beautiful, Tasteless Sauce...

ideabaker | | Feb 19, 2009 08:37 AM

Hello fellow CH'ers;

Three days ago I decided that to improve my sauce making skills (I've never made a sauce) I would cook a different sauce every day for the next seven days.

I rarely eat meat, but when I have it in restos I love when it is served on a bedding of delicious, thick sauce, so I decided to start with a sauce to go with steak.

I went to the market and picked up a large, expensive club steak. Got home and pulled out my ready-made Classic French Demiglace by More than Gourmet http://www.morethangourmet.com/produc... . Opened it up and inside of the package was a recipe for a Peppered Port Sauce that claims to be the "perfect complement" to beef and would "dazzle" guests. I was excited.

I melted the required amount of butter, sauteed shallots, added crushed peppercorns, and thyme. I set them aside, pan seared my kosher-salted steaks and set aside to keep warm. Added the suggested amount of red wine to deglaze the steak pan, adding back the shallot mixture. Brought to the boil and reduced by half, just like the directions said. I then added the port and WHOOSH, the whole pan went up in flames. I yanked the heavy and large pan off of the stove and shook it around a bit until the flames subsided. Whoa, my first flambe! (Mental note, I've gotta tie my hair back next time I try this...).

Returned the sauce to the fire and whisked in the Demi-Glace until it was dissolved, then whisked in heavy cream, just like the recipe said. Then I pressed my sauce through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon. When I lifted the sieve didn't know what to expect, and what I saw made me feel like a proud mother. My sauce was thick, rich (looking) with an elegant gloss. It kind of looked like melted chocolate. Eager to taste it, I grabbed a spoon and put a bit of the sauce into it.

Lifted the sauce to my lips and tasted... nothing. I mean, maybe I tasted a tiny bit of the pepper but that was about it. I was devastated. Not only did I almost set myself and the kitchen on fire, and use up a container of not-so-cheap Demi-Glace, now I had the pricey steak with no tasty sauce. Then I wishfully thought that just maybe, when I poured the sauce over the meat (I was too bummed to even think about plating it with the sauce on the bottom) it would absorb more of the meat's flavor. So I poured it over the steak and sat down to eat it. Yuck! It was an ok steak, but my sauce just made it a pedestrian and sad attempt at a delicious meal.

So... any thoughts on where I went wrong? I never salted the sauce, should I have (the Demi-Glace had 240mg of Sodium)? I grabbed my copy of "Sauces" and saw that I should have been tasting the sauce along the way, but frankly after the thing caught on fire, the last thing on my mind was putting my face anywhere near it at that time. Also, even if I'd noticed it had no flavor earlier in the process I have no idea how I would have corrected it... added some mustard? Some orange extract? More salt?

Any ideas anyone has to build a sauce for steak with rich flavor would be greatly appreciated. (Or any recipes for a beginner at sauce making.) I'm so bummed out about this experience that I put off the "sauce a day" challenge until I can at least get this one (or one like it) right.

Thanks in advance!

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