There is an old French Culinary Adage:
Anyone can learn to cook but sauce-makers are born.
I don't know where I first heard or read this, but I believe it to be true. Maybe it was something Julia Child once said. I love reading old cookbooks -ah! that's 19th century old, not your Mother's Betty Crocker. (I read that too, but for a different reason.)
"No one has any claim to be called a cook who cannot make soup without artificial clearing," said the Marchesa. "Like the poet, the consommé is born, not made. It must be clear from the beginning, an achievement which needs care and trouble like every other artistic effort, but one nevertheless well within the reach of any student who means to succeed." — The Cook's Decameron: A Study in Taste, Containing Over Two Hundred Recipes ... By W. G. Waters
And Reading in:
THE FRENCH COOK;
A SYSTEM OF FASHIONABLE, PRACTICAL, AND ECONOMICAL
COOKERY, ADAPTED TO THE USE OF ENGLISH FAMILIES. BY LOUIS EUSTACHE UDE,
CI-DEVANT COOK TO LOUIS XVI, CHARLES X., AND THE EARL OF SEFTON; PROJECTOR OF THE ORIGINAL COFFEE-ROOM HELD IN THE UNITED SERVICE CLUB-HOUSE IN ALBEMARLE STREET; STEWARD TO HIS LATE ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE of YORK; AND FOR TWELVE SUCCESSIVE YEARS STEWARD AND MANAGER OF THE ST. JAMES CLUB.
FOURTEENTH EDITION, CORRECTED AND REVISED THROUGHOUT BY THE AUTHOR;
IN WHICH ARE INTRODUCED A PRACTICAL METHOD OF ECONOMY, AND A SYSTEM FOR CLEANLINESS — OBSERVATIONS ON THE ADVANTAGE OF GOOD COOKERY
THE MEALS OF THE DAY NEW METHOD OF GIVING GOOD AND EXTREMELY CHEAP FASHIONABLE SUPPERs AND RUUTS AND SOIREES, AS PRACTISED BY THE AUTHOR WHEN WITH THE EARL OF SEFTON. MUCH GOOD ADVICE — ANECDOTES — RULES FOR CARVING — CHOICE OF MEAT AND AN ADDITIONAL LIST OF SEVERAL NEW DISHES, LATELY INTRODUCED INTO THIS COUNTRY BY THE AUTHOR.
LONDON : EBERS AND CO., 27, OLD BOND STREET., 1841.
So, reading on page 9, what to my wonderment, I saw:
19. Sauce Tournée.*
Take some white thickening✝ (No. 14) dilute it with some consommé or broth of fowl neither too thin nor too thick I must repeat what I have already said that a sauce when too thick will never admit of the fat being removed Let it boil on the corner of the stove. Throw in a few mushrooms with a bunch of parsley and green onions. Skim it well and when there is no grease left, strain it through a tammy to use when wanted.
* This sauce is always Sauce Tournée is the sauce that the modern cooks call velouté but velouté properly so called will be found hereafter.
✝ You must adopt the name Roux Blanc because thickening is made with the yolks of eggs.
21. The Velouté.
Take much about the same quantity of stock broth No. 2 and of the sauce No. 19 and boil them down a large fire. When this sauce is very thick have thick cream boiling and reduced which pour into sauce and give it a couple of boilings season with a salt and strain through a tammy. If the ham should too salt put in a little sugar. Observe that this is not to be so thick as the béchamel.
22. Velouté, or Béchamel, a new method.
As it is not customary in England to allow a principal cook six assistants or deputies for half a dozen or even ten entrées. I have thought it incumbent on me to abridge, to the best of my abilities the various preparations of sauces, &c. Put into a stewpan a knuckle of veal, some slices of ham, four or five pounds of beef, the legs and loin of a fowl, all the trimmings of meat or game that you have, and moisten with boiled water sufficient to cover half the meat; make it sweat gently on a slow fire, till the meat is done through; this you may ascertain by thrusting your knife into it; if no blood follows, it is time to moisten with boiling water sufficient to cover all the meat. Then season with a bundle of parsley and green onions, a clove, half a bay leaf, thyme, a little salt. and trimmings of mushrooms. When the sauce has boiled long enough to let the knuckle be well done, skim off all the fat, strain it through a silken sieve, and boil down this consommé till it is nearly a glaze; next take four spoonsful of very fine flour, dilute it with three pints of very good cream, in a stewpan big enough to contain the cream, consommé, flour, &c; boil the flour and cream on a slow fire. When it boils, pour in the consommé, and continue to boil it on a slow fire if the sauce be thick, but on the contrary if the sauce be thin on a quick fire in order to thicken it. Season with salt but put no pepper. No white sauce admits pepper except when you introduce into it something chopped fine. Pepper appears like dust and should therefore be avoided This sauce should be very thick. Put it into a white basin through a tammy and keep it in the larder out of the dust. This sauce is the foundation, if I may so speak, of all sorts of little sauces especially in England where white sauces are preferred. On this account I seldom adopt the former method. In summer I was unable to procure any butter fit for use and accordingly I was forced to do without and found that my sauce was the better for it. This sauce should always be kept very thick as you can thin it whenever you please either with stock broth or with cream. If too thin it could not be used for so many purposes. NB With this sauce you make croquettes, rissoles, sauté of poulets, aux suprême, ditto aux concombres, ditto aux truffes, and partridges with truffles by adding the reduced consommé of game (No. 14 sauce).
and not forgetting No. 14.
14. White Roux✝ — (White Thickening).
Put a good lump of butter into a stewpan let it melt over a slow fire, and when melted drain the butter and take out the buttermilk; then put in the butter, two or three spoonfuls of good flour enough to make a thin paste: keep it on the fire for a quarter of an hour, and take care not to let it colour; pour it into an earthen pan to use when wanted.
✝This is an indispensable article in cookery and serves to thicken sauces the brown is for sauces of the same colour; and the colour must be obtained by slow degrees otherwise the flour will burn and give a bitter taste and the sauces become spotted with black.
And now, reader, you know why French Haute Cuisine is not practiced, even in France any more.