I never dreamed that food would become a subject of controversy in our home. In general terms, my husband will eat anything I put in front of him and ask for more. But in the last couple years, he is demanding that I make brown sauce for almost everything I cook.
My feeling is this: There are some dishes that are suitable for brown sauce, but there are others that I refuse to pour the sauce on. I do have my standards, I’ve told him time and again. But he is persistent, and rather than create a lasting dispute, I now make brown sauce and put it next to his plate so he can make his own mixtures. I’ve gone so far as to make the sauce an place it next to his desserts.
Sauces have been around since medieval days. In times past, most food was served on top of thick slices of bread, and the meal was eaten with one’s fingers. When the bread absorbed the juice of the meats on top of it, the idea of thickening meat juices to make sauce started.
Medieval sauces would have contained more acidic ingredients and spices but no butter, making them taste strong. In recent history, one of the most important developments was the creation of roux which is a mixture of sauteed celery, carrots and onions, browned in butter or olive oil. Roux provided a smoother textured sauce and became the thickener of choice well into current times.
In the 17th century, French chefs prepared “jus” by browning large pieces of meat, then poking holes in the meat with a knife, then putting it into a press to extract the juices. That juice was then added to the roux, which was then called ‘coulis.” The coulis was the basic ingredient for brown sauce well into the 19th century. Sometimes, pureed almonds, lemon juice, onions, mushrooms and cloves were added to the sauce as thickeners.
In the 18th century, French chefs generally served meat roasts in their natural un-thickened juices. But various flavors were added to the juices to differentiate them, such as oranges, chopped shallots, truffles, garlic and herbs.
Nouvelle cuisine was developed by French chefs in the 1960s, which eliminated the use of flour as sauce thickeners, replacing it with cream, butter and egg yolk.
makes 3 cups
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounce can sliced mushroom
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
salt and pepper to taste
-Warm the oil in heavy saucepan. Add the onion, stir and cook over medium heat until golden, stir often.
-Drain the mushroom, save the juice from the can, and add to the onion. Stir.
-Add the garlic, ginger, clove, salt and pepper. Stir.
-Place the corn starch in a bowl, add the mushroom juice and water to make 3 cups of liquid. Stir until the corn starch dissolved. Poor the corn starch mixture over the vegetables. Stir and bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning and cook, stirring often, until the liquid thicken. If you are like my husband you can serve this sauce on everything except ice cream.