Brown stock, white sauce and grey days

Last week, when it was still a bit cool out, I made up some brown stock, using dried chanterelle mushrooms instead of veal bones. It was great – rich and deeply flavored. I was astounded at how much body and depth of flavor I was able to achieve just using the mushrooms. The method was virtually identical to the white stock I’d made previously: begin with 1/4 cup of oil, add the mirepoix and cook. However, in this case, you cook the mirepoix until it is deeply caramelized, adding a few tablespoons of tomato paste near the end and letting that brown as well. Then add the salt and about one gallon of water. Then simmer away for at least an hour. Then strain and it’s ready for use. I salvaged the strained veggies and added back a little stock to make a quick soup – couldn’t let those delicious chewy little chanterelle nuggets go to waste! 

Unfortunately, on the cooking front, (fortunately, on all other fronts) the weather over the past week or so has been gorgeously sunny and warm. Not so good for making rich sauces, as was on the cooking agenda. I’d planned on progressing through TPC more-or-less in order, as the recipes tend to build on each other – stocks are turned into sauces, sauce bases into soups, etc, but I’ve revised that plan a bit. Soups during the summer is just not going to happen. But, I would still like to finish off the sauce section before moving on. On that note, I was very happy when I woke up yesterday to find it cold and rainy! And again today!

Yesterday evening, I threw together a dairy-free béchamel sauce. The concept is really quite simple—just using a dairy free milk instead of cow’s milk. The technique is identical to that of the velouté, just using milk instead of stock. I’d been thinking of trying it weeks ago, but I couldn’t settle on a non-dairy milk that seemed workable – coconut had too much of it’s own flavor, same with soy, rice was too thin, etc. Then, I fortuitously stumbled upon this recipe for homemade oat milk the other day. I gave it a shot and lo-and-behold, I soon had a quart of rich, but extremely neutral tasting, oat milk. I whipped up a basic roux with some flavorful olive oil, added the oat milk and let simmer, stirring often, with a couple of cloves of garlic. Just before serving, I pureed it with my immersion blender for incorporate the garlic and added a bit of pepper and nutmeg. Served over whole wheat pasta with spinach and kale and topped with a few red chili flakes it was the perfect rainy day meal – creamy, rich and comforting, but still much lighter than it’s dairy-laden inspiration. Béchamel now in my arsenal, I’m plotting a vegan moussaka…

I’m hoping the cool and the grey will hold out for another day or so, so I have time to try out a basic brown sauce with my chanterelle stock. Then only the (more sunny-weather-friendly) mayonnaise, hollandaise and tomato sauce remain!

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