I learnt a couple of basic cooking techniques when I started catering many years ago.
any meat dish or serve with mustard, a green salad and a bottle of wine to share for lunch.
The first was how to reduce cream and use it as the basis of a sauce.
By simply adding grain mustard, for example to a cream reduction, you create a sauce which is beautiful with poached chicken or baked pork fillet.
It may also be used for a pasta sauce and add flavour with wine, pan juices, mustard, tomato paste, parmesan cheese.
Cream reduction is the basis of one of my favourite dishes, potatoes Dauphinois.
Peel potatoes and slice very thinly. Rinse in cold water, pat dry and layer them in an ovenware dish which has been rubbed with garlic and butter.
Pour over an outrageous amount of cream and dot with more butter.
Cook for an hour or so at 160 degrees then turn up the oven for an additional ten minutes until golden on top. It is a perfect accompaniment to The other sauce I prepare regularly is a simple tomato-based sauce. A wonderfully rich sauce is easy using the best quality tinned tomatoes and adding flavour with onion, carrot, garlic, herbs, pancetta, anchovies and so many other variations.
It can then be used for slow cooked lamb, pasta or tossed through Mediterranean vegetables and served with grated parmesan. The ways to use these sauces are endless.
The techniques are obviously very simple, but when I started cooking, I was very simple, too! I read lots of cookbooks and taught myself much more, but I still use either a cream reduction or a tomato-based sauce every week. (I suppose it is one reason the Italians make such a big deal of preserving tomatoes and making sugo or passata. It is the basis of so many dishes).
Cooking off a good base Although there has been hot summer weather in recent days, we won’t have to wait long for a few colder days to enjoy some slowcooked lamb shanks. For this recipe you’ll need four lamb shanks Frenched (from Torquay Farm Foods).