Sauces are an important component in any meal but this is even more so at Christmas time. Imagine sitting down to your Christmas lunch and having your turkey with no gravy and all of your trimmings with no cranberry sauce! The thought of it alone seems to strip the day of all of its magic, so with the help of our expert saucier, and Head of Cuisine Chef Eric Bédiat, Le Cordon Bleu London will be paying homage to this commonly overlooked condiment, and providing you with a quick guide to Christmas sauces.
Which sauce to choose?
There is such a vast range of sauce choices available that it can be quite tricky when it comes to choosing which one is best suited to accompany your Christmas lunch. So Chef Eric has suggested the following sauce pairings to make your day that little bit easier:
- Turkey - If this is your poultry of choice then a gravy made from turkey bones is the best option as it will compliment the delicate meat of the bird.
- Beef Wellington - With this classic dish, a rich madeira or port wine sauce is the best choice as it will compliment the earthy undertones of the red meat.
- Salmon - If salmon is your preference, then a white wine, dill and lemon sauce would be ideal as the acidity will compliment the richness of the fish.
- Nut roast - This vegetarian dish needs a strong tomato salsa or mushroom sauce as both will enhance the flavour of the nuts and vegetables used in the nut-roast.
Making the perfect Christmas gravy
There are many different factors that will affect the taste and texture of your gravy. The initial flavour comes from the melted fat and the roasted meat that is used in the sauce, which is combined with flour in order for it to thicken. Other factors to consider when making your gravy include, the quality of the stock, the quality of the wine (if used), the browning of the bones, and the choice of seasoning, as all of these can dramatically alter the flavours of your sauce.
Making a sauce is not an exact science but there is definitely an art to it and a certain skill set that is needed to achieve perfection, therefore it is important to note that the experience of the person making the sauce is also something to consider. You will need to understand the physical changes that happen during the cooking process which is taught on Le Cordon Bleu London’s cuisine programmes, and in our Modern and Classic Sauces short course.
Le Cordon Bleu Master Chef Eric's Top Tips
Here are Chef Eric’s expert top-tips that will help you on your journey to Christmas sauce perfection:
- Reduction Method - Make use of the reduction method when making your Christmas sauce. This refers to the evaporation of liquid during the cooking process which then concentrates the flavours.
- Lumpy Gravy - If you accidentally make a lumpy sauce or gravy you can strain it through a fine sieve or cloth in order to rid it of the unpleasant clumps of flour.
- Thickening Sauce - The simplest way to thicken your sauce is to make a simple roux (cooked melted fat and flour) or a beurre manié (raw flour and butter paste).
- Practice, practice, pracitice - Making sauce is an art that cannot simply be learned from a recipe, so you have to practice to make perfect.
If you want to add a festive twist to a classic sauce, Chef Eric suggests finishing the sauce with a mustard, or freshly grated horseradish to add some warming notes and make your Christmas lunch that extra bit special!
What sauces will you be creating this Christmas? Tweet us @LeCordonBleuLDN using #LeCordonBleuXmas