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It's All in the Sauce

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Back when I worked in a restaurant kitchen, as early as I got up to start prepping for the day, one chef in particular - a tall, weathered man from Normandy - would always beat me there. My custards for creme brulee and parmesan broths were always made while working around his one, constant claim to the stove. Sitting there, every time, was a huge stock pot full of red wine, aromatics, and bones, all bubbling away.

He was making a brown sauce, and my prep days always interrupted its passive infusion during stage two: after the roasting of the bones and before the reducing of the liquid. Put simply, it’s a red wine sauce, and aside from enriching meat dishes in classic French cooking, it also functions as a culinary rite of passage. There’s an idea, long upheld, that ‘until you learn how to make a decent sauce, you’ll never be a great cook.’

Onward, then: if you don’t know how already, here is your chance to learn. Master this sauce, and you’ll be one step closer, at least in the discerning eyes of French chefs everywhere, to being a truly great cook.

The Process: Make a sauce, feel like a real cook from The Washington Post