Fundamentals of cooking, week 8

Tomato sauce is not the same as marinara. Say it with me – tomato sauce is not the same as marinara. If there is one thing that was made clear to me this week, it was this very point. On Tuesday night we made tomato sauce, as in one of the five mother sauces – not marinara. You can make marinara from tomato sauce, but it is NOT marinara sauce. Everyone clear on that point now? Good, let’s move on.

The other thing I learned about tomato sauce is that it’s really freaking good. It’s laden with animal product (salt pork, bones, chicken stock), but it is really flavorful. As much as I love to modify recipes, I’m not sure how I could possibly modify this into a vegetarian friendly version and keep the same depth of flavor. The deeper into this program I go, the more exposure I’m getting to a whole new flavor profile that I’ve been missing out on as a vegetarian. (Not to say that vegetarian food isn’t delicious or elegant or lacking in depth or complexity, it totally has all of that.)

Working the stove, making tomato and chasseur sauce!
Working the stove, making tomato and chasseur sauce!

Since starting the quarter 8 weeks ago, I’ve gained a much deeper respect for the art of (and labor that goes in to) cooking. One of our projects was to make demi glaze and it made me really appreciate what goes in to getting a product that adds such complex flavors. To make a demi glaze, you first have to make the stock, let it simmer for at least 8-12 hours, strain it, then reduce it again for another few hours. The end result is a totally rich, velvety, concentrated flavor that you can really taste when incorporated to a dish. We used our demi glaze to make a chasseur sauce, which I can’t imagine making any other way and achieving the same flavor. Sadly, because of the labor and amount of product involved, this will probably be the last time I make that sauce, but I will never forget what it tastes like!

We also made a couple of soups this week. Everybody made cream of mushroom and I chose cream of broccoli over split pea for my second soup. I could easily eat either of those every single day. Although, the broccoli could use a little cheese if you ask me. These will definitely make it into the winter food rotation this season.

I feel like a broken record and I know I’ve said this before, but I am in love with learning this stuff and in love with being in the kitchen. No matter how long my day was or how tired I am, once we get into the kitchen, nothing else matters and it’s all about the food and the process.


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