BRIAN IN THE KITCHEN  brought to you by Stittsworth Meats

March 26 2010

Mother Sauces - Espagnole

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1/2 bay leaf
2 parsley stems, no leaves
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 clove garlic
1 piece of cheesecloth, cut into a 6-inch square
1 piece of butcher's twine, cut 12-inches long

1 small onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons additional butter
6 cups beef stock or bouillon, room temperature
2 ounces tomato purée
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

TO MAKE SACHET - Place the bay leaf, parsley stems, thyme, and garlic in the square of cheesecloth. Gather up the corners and twist together. Using just 1 end of the string, tie the sachet closed. The other end of the string, the long end, will be suspended from the handle of the saucepan. Set aside until ready to use.

Cut the onion, carrot, and celery into medium, 1/2-inch, dice. Set aside. Mince garlic.

Heat the 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan until hot. Whisk in the flour to a paste consistency, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 to 6 minutes until mixture (roux) bubbles, turns light brown in color and has a nutty aroma. This is called a dark roux. Set aside.

Place the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy, 4-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté the vegetables, stirring often, for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until well browned. Add the minced garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the cooked roux to the vegetables, stirring to combine. Gradually, pour in the brown stock and then the tomato purée. Tie the pre-made sachet to one handle of the stockpot, letting it dangle in the liquid.

Bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities from the surface, as needed. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours, skimming the surface occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to about 1 quart.

Untie sachet. Then pour sauce and the sachet into a fine strainer or china cap lined with cheesecloth. Use a ladle or spoon to gently press any remaining vegetables through the strainer. Discard the sachet.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.

Set over a double boiler filled with warm water until ready to serve. Or cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The sauce may also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 quart