Monday, March 12, 2012

Sauces and Marinades

Sauces and Marinades is a 6 week course offered at George Brown College through their Continuing Education program.  The main focus of this course is marinating different types of meats and fish, and then either creating a sauce out of that marinade, or pairing the dish with an accompanying sauce. 

The instructor for this course was fantastic.  She taught us to analyze and dissect each recipe in order to really question and understand why each step was included - which helped to further my quest to be able to 'cook without a recipe'. 

Week 1: Mmmmm...Carbs....
First class.  This was a demo-only class.  The instructor provided an introduction to the properties of sauces and marinades and the flexibility that these provide a cook in the kitchen. 
Demonstrated in this class were sauces specifically for pasta.  All of the sauces tasted awesome (It's not too surprising that I found all of these recipes amazing...I do love me some carbs...).  There was a Three Green Pasta with Scallops and Pesto Sauce - this pasta had peas, pesto (making pesto was part of the demo as well) and asparagus (hence - three green) and a healthy dose of whipping cream.  When I've made this at home, I replaced the whipping cream with skim evaporated milk and it actually tasted great.  There was a Spagettini Col Sugo Di Erbe E Pomodoro Crudo, which was a lovely basil/sage/rosemary/mint tomato sauce.  It tasted amazing with olive oil and parmesan cheese (I never would have thought to put mint into a tomato sauce...).  There was a Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato in Cream Sauce.   I loved the flavours of the red pepper and sun dried tomato.  There was also a Pasta with Cream Wild Mushroom Sauce.  This sauce had dried wild mushrooms (which were rehydrated), white wine, shallots and (you guessed it) whipping cream.  Rich, but very good.  And lastly, Linguine with Clams in a Spicy Pernod Sauce.  This recipe had fennel which I had not worked with too much before this class, so that was interesting.  Pernod (for those who don't know) is a French liquor (tastes like Anise).  Also, this was my first experience with cooking clams.  So that was it for the first class.  I found these to be very easy, not time-consuming recipes that would work for a weeknight dinner. 

Week 2: Meaty Goodness...
Meat.  This week we covered how to marinate it and how to make lovely sauces to go with it.  Demonstrated was a Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Sauce, a Marinade for a Flank Steak and a Roast Rack of Lamb with Hazelnut Rub and Blood Orange Sauce.  The Gorgonzola Sauce for the Filet Mignon was a very rich, creamy sauce.  The Cayenne and Thyme added to it was a nice way to break up the creamy-ness of this sauce.  The marinade for the flank steak was zesty and spicy.  It utilized pineapple juice to tenderize the flank steak.  The instructor emphzised that it was essential to marinate tougher cuts (like flank steak) overnight to achieve the correct tenderization.  The Lamb with Hazelnut Rub and Blood Orange Sauce introduced the class to the concept of a 'Gastrique', which is a sauce that has a sweet plus an acid (i.e. Caramelized sugar and vinegar).  The lamb racks are first seared in a hot pan, then they were marinated for a few hours.   They were then covered in a walnut crust and roasted in the oven.  The lamb is served with a blood orange sauce.  It's an impressive recipe that was easy to make once it was broken down.  Grilled Flank Steak with Roasted Shallot Sauce was part of the lab.  In class we made the marinade and added it to the steak.  As it was flank steak, we took that home and let it marinate overnight.  Roasting the shallots before making a sauce added a rich hearty flavour to a simple stock based sauce. 

Week 3: Les Poisson
Fish.  I love learning new fish recipes.  Fish is so healthy and I feel great after I eat it, but sometimes I am at a loss for new ideas on how to make it.  Demonstrated in this class was an Asian Marinated Mahi Mahi Fillet and a Grilled Swordfish with Lentil Ragout and a Horseradish and Apple Sauce.  The Mahi Mahi was simple & flavourful (hoisin sauce and sesame oil) and only required 30 minutes of marinating time, which is great for a weeknight meal.   The Grilled Swordfish with Lentil Ragout (which had bacon – YES!) was a good hearty meal.  I love the texture of is like the 'meat' of the fish-world.  The labour intensive part of this dish was the ragout, but it's well worth it as a side dish to the swordfish. Teriyaki Marinated Salmon Fillet in Phyllo Pasty with Herb Dressing was part of the lab in this class.  I loved loved loved this recipe.  The salmon is first marinated in a teriyaki-like sauce then wrapped in phyllo pasty, which is sprinkled with sesame seeds.  A sour cream, dill and lemon sauce is made to accompany it.  I've made this a number of times and it has always been a hit.  I'll include my version for this recipe in a subsequent post. 

Week 4: Bock....Bock, bock, bock!
(I've started to see the Cadbury's Easter commercials on TV.  I couldn't help myself). 
As you've probably guessed by now, chicken is the topic of today's class.   A Herb and Buttermilk Baked Chicken Breast with a Creamy Peppercorn Sauce, and a Broiled Chicken with Fresh Peach and Ginger are demonstrated today.  The Herb and Buttermilk Chicken marinade is good for both baked chicken and deep fried chicken.  Marinating chicken in buttermilk really tenderizes chicken, and infuses them with an incredible amount of flavour.  The Broiled Chicken with Fresh Peach and Ginger was interesting - as it combined the flavours of sweet peach and the zing of ginger.  This would be a great marinade for bbq chicken.  The lab for this week included a recipe for Herb Breaded Chicken Breast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Pecans in a Creamy Mustard Sauce.  This recipe involved flattening and stuffing chicken breasts, breading and baking them and making the accompanying sauce.  The goat cheese pecan stuffing wasn't too overpowering, and went well with the herb breading.

Week 5: Pork
Before this class, I had not worked with pork too many times - so this was a good introduction.  Also, it was interesting to me that about half the class didn't show up - so I ended up with A LOT of extra pork.  (I guess people don't like pork...?)
Demonstrated in this class was Sautéed Medallions of Pork with Red Onion Confit and Cider Bourbon Sauce.  The pork loin for this recipe is first seasoned with salt and pepper, seared on all sides and then cooked off in the oven. The cider/apple/bourbon sauce and red onion comfit combine to create a nice tangy flavour.  Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Marinade was also demonstrated in this class.  This was an easy (5 ingredients) marinade.  The pork chops themselves require only 30 minutes of marinating in this spicy citrus marinade time prior to searing or grilling.  Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin is included in this week's lab.  It's was actually really good.  The marinade helps to tenderized the meat.  It was a combination of soya sauce, gingerroot, mustard and lime juice. 

Week 6:  Food on a Stick...
This week was all about food made and served on a stick (food on a stick is more fun!). 
This week, Yogurt Lamb Souvlakia, Pork Rib Satays, Velvet Chicken Satay, Cilantro Chutney and Garlic-Soy Marinated Beef Strips were demonstrated.  These recipes included great marinades and sauces which would be good for appetizers, and for a BBQ.  'Velveting chicken' essentially means marinating chicken in corn starch and egg white.  This is a Chinese cooking technique which helps to prevent the chicken from overcooking - which is required for chicken satay’s (since the chicken is cut so thin, it's easy to overcook it). 
Chicken Kabobs with Ginger Lemon Marinade and a Pork Satay recipe are included in the lab for this week.  The marinade for the chicken kabobs includes gingerroot, coriander and fennel seeds.  The kabobs are made with green peppers, pineapple chunks and cherry tomatoes.  This is an ideal summer BBQ recipe.  The pork satay is a great basic recipe.... It's a 'Thai' inspired recipe as it uses coconut milk, soya sauce, chilli pepper and cumin.  It’s paired with a coconut milk/peanut butter based sauce.

This course includes a lot of great techniques for marinating and cooking different types and cuts of meats and fish.  As you can see, each class was packed full of many different, usable recipes.  Everything was very flavourful and the instructor was amazing.

Happy Cooking!  

1 comment:

  1. I think it is so awesome you are studying Culinary Arts! Good luck with schooling!