Veloute

VelouteA veloute is a classic French sauce; labelled one of the five “mother sauces” by Escoffier it is at the core of lots of French cuisine, but that doesn’t mean that it is difficult.  What it does mean is that it is worth making.  “Veloute” means velvety and that’s exactly what this sauce is; smooth, rich and rather wonderful.

Most of the classic veloute recipes I have seen call for stock thickened with a roux (flour and butter) but this one doesn’t.  I guess you could say that makes it less authentic but it is based on a recipe by Michel Roux Junior and that’s good enough for me.

You can make this sauce with any light stock – just match it to your meal – fish stock with fish or chicken stock with chicken.  At a push you could use a vegetable stock but you will get less flavour.  I made the sauce to go with some whiting and samphire – the saltiness of the samphire and the sweetness of the sauce complemented each other wonderfully.

I poured some of the sauce into a shot glass for the photos and I have to admit I was very tempted just to knock it back in one because this sauce really is that good.  I had a little word with myself and settled for a sip but I would defy you to do the same.

Velote with whiting and samphire

Ingredients

2 Shallots

50g / 2 oz Mushrooms

20g / 3/4 oz Butter

100 ml / 4 fl oz Dry White Wine

300 ml / 10 fl oz Stock (fish or chicken)

300 ml / 10 fl oz Double Cream

Fresh Herbs (optional)

Method

Finely chop the shallots and thinly slice the onions.  Place in a frying pan with the butter and cook gently until softened but not browned.  Do not rush this part of the process – if the shallots are not properly cooked the sauce will taste of raw onion which will spoil it.

Once cooked, pour in the wine and turn the heat up.  Boil until the wine has virtually all evaporated.  Stir in the cream and bring to the boil, simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Strain the sauce through a sieve pressing down on the shallots and mushrooms to extract all the flavour.  Season with salt and pepper.  At this stage you can add some chopped herbs if you like; dill works well with most fish or perhaps some thyme with chicken.  You can also add a little squeeze of lemon juice if you want to lift the flavours but I like the creamy softness of the sauce without it.

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