sauce and puree making

Joined May 15, 2017
Good evening everybody.

For context: started cooking school with little to no pro cooking knowledge. First job was at a sushi place. Started woking some noodles and shimejis, learned how to roll and after 2 years decided to look for something else. Started as intern at a fine dining, a position opened for "saucier" and the chef asked me if I could handle it. Of course I said yes. I've been there for about 6 months now. Struggled a bit at first, but now I feel more in control. I work prep/line at night, and I have a partner who does the same in the morning and we have a pretty smooth relation, considering is one of the most heavy stations. We do all the stocks, reductions, sauces, purees and some garnishes.

Well, I found out early at the sushi place I worked the most important thing about professional cooking is organization and being highly methodic. That's what I try to exercise everyday, and it's working great. The menu changed almost completely last week and my station got even more work, and we are the ones struggling the less. The thing is, I never met anyone who worked on a position similiar to mine to look for some advices. My chef isn't very communicative on feedbacks, but I know he's happy with my work (I specifically asked him one day if I was doing something wrong and he threw me a couple of compliments).

I just wanted any tips, advices, dos and don'ts from someone who had to keep and eye on several productions. I don't know, just looking to hear any words that could help me get better on the matter (sauce and stock making etc).

Thanks in advance! :)

(english isn't my first language, so I already apologize for any mistakes)
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Would be helpful to know the kinds of things you are making beyond the generic "sauces and stocks" and purees. I have some ideas for you though...

Are you making veal stock? I find that blanching the bones works wonders on the final product. That is, filling the pot with the bones/water, then bring it up to a rolling boil. Then strain the bones out of the water, rinse them off, and add your cold water and cook stock like you would normally. This blanching process gets rid of TONS of impurities, fat, etc. that you wold otherwise spend a lot of time skimming off throughout the process. It's a pain in the ass but worth it, IMO.

Make sure you do a remouillage (aka "remy") with the bones for a 2nd stock. This will be a weaker stock than the first, but will ensure you get all the good stuff out of the bones. A lot of places just combine the veal stock and the remy, and reduce for demi. I think remy is good for stuff like braises, soups, etc.

When making stock, I don't add the mirepoix until the last hour or so of cooking. Think about it...when you make a vegetable stock you don't cook it for longer than about 30-45 mins, so why would you add vegetables to the stock in the beginning and cook them for 8 hours? They lose all their flavor by that time, and you might as well have not added them at all.

Remember that you can't have a great sauce without a great stock.

One of my "tricks" for making awesome purees (I assume you mean vegetable and starch purees for plating dishes) is to use the juice of the item I'm pureeing for added flavor. Like, a lot of people/chefs use stock, or water, or cream for their purees. So to make a carrot puree, most chefs will maybe add some sweated shallot and carrots to a pot, cover with water/stock, and puree when done. I like to use, in this example, carrot juice for the cooking medium. It really enhances the flavor and makes it super flavorful. A lot of times when I'm blending in the vita prep, all I will add to finish is a knob of butter. I don't like cream in most of my purees (sometimes I'll do a celery root and cream puree or something). But yeah, beet juice for beet puree, carrot juice, etc. Works wonders. Also works for carrot bisques and soups. Your kitchen has a juicer, I hope?

One thing too...refresh your sauces everyday. I assume you pull from a big batch of sauce (say, you make 2 gallons of bordelaise and pull enough for service every day). I also assume you bring to a boil to heat up, and at this time I would taste and adjust with a splash of finishing vinegar, salt, refresh with herbs, add stock to thin out if the sauce got too thick, etc. This is especially important if you are using "use first" sauce from the night before.

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