heirloom·modern: Oui Madame

10 Jan

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange probably shouldn’t qualify for an heirloom·modern as it was published in 2005, but, since it is a translation of a book originally published in 1927 and I’m my own editor, I give myself a bye on this one.

Beware The Madame

This book came out at about the same time as The Silver Spoon two Christmases ago and I bought them both for myself with my pitiful year-end bonus because, well, no one else did. While in spirit the two books are similar, translations of tomes that in their respective countries; France and Italy, are as essential to any home cook as The Joy Of Cooking is here in America. But, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The Silver Spoon is concise and clearly written, full of pretty pictures and easy to asses ingredient lists. And La Bonne Cuisine? Yeah, not so much. With every nit-picky direction and convoluted, circuitous explanation, it becomes abundantly clear to me why some male French chefs are less than enthusiastic about having women in the kitchen… They fear they’ll all be like The Madame. She’s a bossy, know-it-all, pain in the arse perfectionist that makes Gordon Ramsey look like a trained goldfish.

And this is the woman I turned to for my contribution to a joint-effort New Year’s Eve feast.

In fact, it’s because of her bossiness and perfectionism that there’s no pictures of the most splendid, gorgeous and unapologetically perfect sauce I’ve ever made; Sauce Périgueux, aka Brown Sauce with Essence of Pork and Black Truffle.

Sounds a lot better in The Madame’s native tongue, non?

I had to transport the two halves of the sauce in Tupperware on the subway to Brooklyn and then assemble the sauce there, and to be honest, by the time it was done and we were ready to sit down to our roasted loin of venison accompanied by savory mushroom bread pudding and an intensely wonderful salad of greens, spicy candied pecans and pungent bleu cheese, I was too happy, hungry, and, well, drunk to give a rat’s ass about taking a picture!

So, you might be saying to yourself, Ann, why on earth would I ever buy this book and take this woman’s abuse? Because she’s right, she’ll make you look like a culinary star and where else are you going to find a recipe for Brain Beignets?

Head below the jump for heirloom·modern: The Madame’s Sauce Périgueux.

heirloom·modern: The Madame’s Sauce Périgueux

(Adapted from Le Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, translated by Paul Aratow)

prep time: at least an hour ~ cooking time: hours

Sauce Brune (The Brown Sauce)

  • 3 tbsps Butter
  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 4 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 small Onions, finely chopped
  • 3 slices of good Bacon, finely chopped
  • 4-5 sprigs Parsley, leaves stripped
  • 2 sprigs of Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2-3 tbsps Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups good White Wine
  • 6 1/3 cups liquid, be it water, very good dark Stock of your own making (veal, beef or otherwise) or a combination
  • 4 tbsps of Tomato Paste or Tomato Powder
  • 1 tbsp Mushroom Better Than Bullion
  • 2 tbsps Madeira

Set a large saucepan big enough to contain the liquids over a medium-low flame. Melt the butter and olive oil together then add the carrots, onions, parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Cook slowly until the ingredients begin to caramelize and color. Lower the heat and sprinkle the flour over the mirepoix. Allow the mixture to cook very slowly until the flour turns a reddish brown, about 15 minutes. (Now, I’m going to be honest with you, my flour never turned color and the sauce turned out perfectly).

Gradually add the wine and all but about 1 cup of the other liquids you are using and mix to incorporate completely. Pour the cup of liquid in a container and place in the fridge. Add the tomato paste or powder and the mushroom bullion to the sauce pan. Stir to incorporate. Raise the heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

Lower the heat and bring to an even, gentle simmer where the bubbles are always coming up in exactly the same place. Do not cover. Allow to simmer gently for 1 hour using a metal spoon to skim the foam, fat and gook that rises to the surface. This is very important. The better you skim the sauce at this step, the easier the next step will be.

While you are doing this, begin the Sauce Périgueux.

Essence Of Ham

  • about 1/2 lb of Lean, Cured, Unsmoked Ham
  • 2-3 small Shallots, very finely minced
  • a few springs of Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tbsps Olive Oil or Butter (your call)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Madeira

The guys at the deli where I bought my ham sliced it into very thin slices, so I just cut it into strips. If you watched your deli guys more closely and caught them before they did this to you, cut your ham into cubes.

Heat the fat in a saucepan and add the ham, cook until lightly browned. Add the shallots, thyme, bay, water and madeira. Let this simmer away until it has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Taste the sauce. If it’s not hammy enough, add more water and allow to cook down again. When the flavor is to your liking, turn off the heat and strain through a chinois or cheese cloth. Set aside in a pan and keep warm or place in a Tupperware and chill.

Back to the Brown Sauce.

After 1 hour, turn the heat off and strain the sauce through a chinois or cheese cloth into another sauce pan. Return the sauce to medium heat and bring back to a light simmer where it’s boiling in just one spot and skim, skim, SKIM! It is essential to try and rid the sauce of as much fat as possible.

From time to time, pull the chilled liquid out of the fridge and add a tablespoon at a time to the sauce. This will cause more gunk to rise to the surface. Return the extra liquid to the fridge. Keep doing this until all cold liquid is gone and the sauce is clarified. This took me well over an hour while The Madame says it should take a half hour.

Turn the heat up to high and allow to boil until reduced to about 1 1/2-2 cups. Turn the heat off and add the 2 tbsps of Madeira, stir to incorporate and strain once more through a chinois or cheese cloth and keep warm in a pan or put in a Tupperware and chill in the fridge.

Sauce Périgueux

  • 3 small Black Truffles, preferably fresh, but if not, preserved are okay
  • Truffle Salt (only necessary if using preserved truffles)
  • 1/4 cup Madeira

If the Essence Of Ham and Brown Sauce have been chilled, bring them both up to a low simmer in separate pans. Chop the truffles. Add the Essence Of Ham to the Brown Sauce and add the truffles. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the Madeira. Stir to incorporate. Taste. If the truffle flavor isn’t coming through enough add a small pinch of truffle salt.

I thought this was delicious the night it was made, but my lucky friends that got the leftovers said it was even better the next day. Do with that bit of knowledge what you will, but be sure to enjoy the sauce with something decadent. Enjoy!

2 Responses to “heirloom·modern: Oui Madame”

  1. Julie January 12, 2007 at 10:36 am #

    This looks really good but clarifying that sauce looks like a bitch. You’re a dedicated woman.

    (Both of those books are on my wishlist but haven’t made it to the top. There’s just so darned many books out there!)

  2. Ulla January 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm #

    I agree with you on the silver spoon I have yet to buy it, but I spent 20 minutes transfixed by it at the book store and it is on my to buy list.

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