How Is Overwhelming Flavor Done??

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I went to a restaurant recently that had pickled beef tongue. Anyway there was a very dark almost black sauce very lightly drizzled over it. The flavor just exploded on my palette in a good way. So my question is, how is a sauce built to be so intense? It can't simply be by reduction. Any thoughts on how this is done? thank you. 
 
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In no particular order.

Layering flavours and seasonings.

Reductions

Infusions

Drying and Reconstituting items (dehydration)

Pairing complimentary flavours (synergy)

Properly extracting flavours (distillation,  rotovaps etc.)

Combining flavours with specific textures (Molecular Gastronomy)

Vapourizing flavour compounds

There are many ways, some old some new and even some old that are done in new ways.

What kind of sauce?

Might be able to help with more specifics.
 
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Thanks. I don't know anything else to say except very dark, very "beefy" flavored and intense. I see how sauce making alone can be an art. 
 
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Arguably the hardest art to master.

Absolutely the hardest one in which to blaze your own trail.
 
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Why couldn't it be a reduction? Would depend upon what is being reduced, I would think.
 
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Why couldn't it be a reduction? Would depend upon what is being reduced, I would think.
It could, I meant it couldn't simply be a reduction sauce only. It was so intense I wondered if there were some chemicals involved but can't really ask that. 
 
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One preparation of beef tongue that I have done in the past is a miso marinated beef tongue with a chinkiang demi sauce. I would describe the dish as fairly intense. It utilized ingredients that hit the five different elements of taste perception, as well as the technique of reduction to hit a good intensity level.
 
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I called the place and they said: "A reduced braising liquid with mustard sauce and a little vinegar" that's all they would say. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 
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mrdecoy,

Could it have been some sort of gastrique- turned sauce ? I know its a long shot but when I here of vinegar in a sauce, it came to mind. Then again vinegar or mustard can really make a dish pop. As Mike mentioned, its the layers of flavors that will give it that depth of body.

Petals.
 
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Thanks petals I don't know, I'm not knowledgeable enough yet on sauces. It was very dark (like A1 sauce) but only in color of course. Maybe I'll go there again and ask. I need to try the Foix Gras anyway. Thanks  
 
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The braising liquid is likely to be stock, wine, mirepoix, a few herbs, and perhaps some tomato paste. 

On the basis of your very sketchy description, I'd start with a pincage (saute a mirepoix until soft, add some tomato paste, and cook the paste until it's browned), add the braising liquid along with a little more wine and a little bit of Dijon mustard, reduce for awhile, sieve the aromatics out after they've given their all, and continue reducing.  The reduction level sounds about the same as a demi-glace which -- if starch isn't used to thicken -- is about 5 to 1. 

I'm going to disagree with Chef Petals.  Gastriques start with sweetness, sometimes with caramelized sugars -- often from sauteing fruit, then adding vinegar and sometimes stock.  If the sauce didn't taste strongly sweet and sour, it wasn't a gastrique.  Since you didn't mention it, I'm guessing it didn't cross the threshold.  But it's a soft term, we could both be right.

You never really mentioned sweetness, but did mention A-1.  A-1 gets its sweetness from raisins, mostly.  Raisins are not an uncommon ingredient for making tongue, you may want to add them somewhere.   

Foie (not foix) gras. 

BDL
 
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BDL,

A-1 only in appearance. It was a super concentrated beef flavor. I will go back and try to get more info. Yes it was an experience, I never thought I would like tongue ever, and the foie gras (the little sample I tried) was like New Years Eve on the palette. It was great to try all those wonderful things but I felt that I had over stimulated my senses when we left. :) 
 
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I get asked the same for my turkey stuffing and the gravy. I premake stock and for both will reduce 6 quarts down to 1 quart. Use it to wet the stuffing and to add to the pan drippings for the gravy. Very intense turkey flavor.
 
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BDL nailed it.  My definition is a classical French take off on a sweet and sour sauce, almost always frut based. Not done to much anymore though, at least I have not seenit on menues for some time, A long time ago Isaw one being made for beedf tongue using raisins and plums.
 
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Posted by mrdecoy1  
BDL,

A-1 only in appearance. It was a super concentrated beef flavor.... I never thought I would like tongue ever, and the foie gras (the little sample I tried) was like New Years Eve on the palette. It was great to try all those wonderful things but I felt that I had over stimulated my senses when we left. :) 
In terms of the sauce, you're probably looking at something very much like a demi-glace derivative.  The concentration of flavor is very much a matter of reduction.  The trick with a demi, such as it is, is to balance and round the meat flavor of the stock with wine, aromatics -- and in the case of beef a little bit of tomato.

In order to make sure the sauce stays smooth and doesn't taste over-reduced you want to do the reduction in stages.  In other words, reduce some stock (or braising liquid), then add a mix of fresh stock and wine and reduce some more.  As I already wrote, build a pincage for the first stock reduction in order to get some structure and sweetness from the tomato paste.

There's a lot of room for improvisation with ingredients.  For instance you can substitute Madeira, Sherry or Cognac for the wine, or even mix them.  Because tongue likes a hint of sweetness, I'd go with Madeira (an inexpensive Madeira like the one from San Antonio Winery which is available at Trader Joe's) all the way.  But Cognac makes things so very smooth and elegant -- it would be a very nice touch.  By way of another example, if you were looking for something particularly Mediterranean you might accent the sauce with a sprig of rosemary early in the reduction process and a few capers for garnish at the end.  If you wanted to go Baltic you could chop some tarragon and parsley and add that to the sauce just as you took it off the flame.  Anyway, you get the idea. 

Cooking is a kind of jazz; freshening a standard with a few twists. 

And yes... foie gras rocks.

BDL

PS.  Sorry about the spelling correction, but here's another one.  Palate, not palette. 
 
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Very good info here, thank you for sharing.

Here is a Hunter sauce with a few additions of my own for tongue. I made the sauce, added roasted garlic, pear puree coffee, wine...reduced.

Petals.
 
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A hunter sauce is just a demi-glace or you can use an espagnole, with the addition of mushrooms and shallots. You don't need a book for this sauce, that is if you go into the search bar, there are many topics on making your basic demi. Have you ever made a sauce from scratch ?

Once you have made the sauce the rest is fairly simple.

Petals.
 
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Go to the library and pick up Guide Culinaire (esscofier cookbook)  This has every classic sauce that you could need. La rousse is also good.
 
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