Mastering the basics in stocks and sauces builds confidence to take on new recipes. Take a look at our top tips and advice to get started, from how to make them, as well as how to save a sauce when things go wrong.
Stock, whether from meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables, is a vital component of many recipes. The success of a finished dish depends on the flavour and clarity of the stock used. Slow, gentle simmering is key: from 30 minutes for fish and vegetable stocks, to as long as 5-6 hours for beef and lamb. For meat stocks, fresh bones are ideal; you can use leftover bones from a roast but the flavour will be weaker. Tip: don’t add salt when making stock; adjust the seasoning when you come to use it.
Learn the method for making silky lump-free white sauce. It’s very versatile. Classic white sauce is based on a roux, a half- half mixture of flour and butter cooked with liquid that is slowly added over medium heat. Once you’ve mastered white sauce, you can make its derivatives including béchamel, Mornay sauce, and parsley sauce. A recipe may require the sauce to have “coating consistency”. This describes the way the finished sauce coats and clings to a wooden spoon.
Split sauces are not uncommon, but you can often use your chef skills to save them. When hollandaise splits, start with a fresh egg yolk in a medium bowl, a little of your vinegar reduction, and remake the emulsion using the broken sauce. Similarly, when dealing with split mayonnaise, start with a fresh egg yolk, and slowly add the curdled mayonnaise until the emulsion reforms. Splitting usually occurs when the oil is added too quickly so take it drop by drop.
How to make an easy plant-nut roast for family and friends
For a plant based cake with a great tangy and sweet spring taste, try out this egg and dairy-free cake from our 6-week Plant Based Eating.
Cooking and entertaining at home is supposed to be fun. It’s time one should approach with joy, not with dread. It’s only natural to feel nervous but with our guidance, it should be possible for you to have as much fun as your guests.