Good jus, that's cooking

Sauces are the foundation of fine cuisine and carefully prepared and well maintained stocks are the key for any good sauce or jus in classic or modern French cuisine.

No longer have Sauce Espagnole, a brown base sauce, produced out of a brown stock (through roasting of veal bones, root vegetables tomato paste and wine) and thickened with fat and flour a place in today’s cooking. Nor does Sauce demi-glace (a more complex sauce that requires the roasting of veal bones and root-vegetables and uses Sauce Espagnole as its base) play any importance in cooking.

The value of a well cooked sauce hasn't changed. The ingredients used for sauce making are similar; their application has, due to nutritional and economic reasons, seen a transition.

Today's praxis is in preference of natural jus that can be prepared by de-glazing a roast with wine or stock or by roasting veal bones, adding mirepoix (diced root vegetables and onions, tomatoes and herbs) to arrive at a brown stock that eventually be reduced to the desired flavour intensity. This jus (jus de veau) could serve as the base for hundreds of delicious sauces. This is quite easily achieved with a reduction. A reduction could be based on red or white wine with the addition of a flavour giving ingredients such as green pepper, thyme or rosemary, mustard, truffles and countless other favours.

The following ingredients are required to cook a jus: Take 3 kg of chopped veal bones and roast in a roasting pan to golden-brown colour. Remove bones, and add 800 grams of mirepoix consisting of 400 grams onions, 200 grams celery, 200 grams carrots - all diced, five garlic gloves, three sprigs of thyme and one bay leave. The addition of five ripe, diced tomatoes, a generous slosh of white wine and the tiniest sprinkle of salt will help to break down fats and proteins that eventually translate into additional flavour. Now, five litre of brown basic stock should be added, good veal or chicken stock could serve as a substitute. The sweetness of the root vegetables and the acidity of both, tomato and wine will, together with the savouriness extracted from the bones, form a balanced brown stock that, like a good wine has body and structure. I don’t favour the addition of tomato paste as many recipes suggest. The tomato paste quite often overpowers a jus’ taste.

Once the basic veal stock has reached boiling point, skimming of foam (proteins that rose to the top) and fat is necessary. Reduce heat to allow for the fond to simmer some three hours. Strain through fine sieve or muslin cloth and chill. Now, our delicious veal jus can be, and after removing some excessive fat that covers the surface be further reduced and serves as a natural jus, perhaps with the addition of a knob of cold butter or be transformed into a superb sauce by adding a reduction.


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