In Chatelaine’s new series Cooking Qs With Chuck Hughes, the celebrity chef and restauranteur answers your most-asked questions about favourite go-to meals.
This episode: From simple pasta dishes to eggs benny, there’s a sauce for everything! All the more reason to have a few reliables you can whip up perfectly every time. Here, chef Chuck Hughes reveals his secrets on how to make sauce like a boss.
What’s your go-to pasta sauce?
When it comes to pasta, Hughes prefers a super-simple tomato sauce. Using higher quality canned tomatoes, crush them in your hands so they retain a chunky texture. Add a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then top with some basil. Let it simmer, then enjoy! Easy-peasy.
How do I make the perfect roux?
Raised the French way, Hughes will always opt for a roux. It can be used to thicken anything from cream sauces to gravy to béchamel. Making it is easy, too: working with equal parts butter to flour, melt softened butter into a sauce pan, sprinkle in one scoop of flour, and mix with a wooden spoon. When the mixture is cooked at its first stage, it’s a blonde roux. After 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, you’ll see it start to caramelize. That’s when it becomes roux brown, which removes the flour taste.
You can start sauces with a roux, keeping it as your base, then add the remaining liquids, or you can use it to thicken a sauce.
How do you thin out sauce without diluting it?
Always use the liquid that’s at the base of your sauce, says Hughes. So, for example, if you’re using chicken stock, add more chicken stock. Water is an easy fix, but it will dilute the flavour of your dish.
What if your sauce is too salty?
Try diluting it. If that’s not working, try the opposite of salt: pepper! Hughes also suggests trying lemon or a starch, like potato.
What’s the best way to reheat sauce?
To avoid burning or changing the nature of your sauce, use a double boiler. Add three to four inches of water in a large pot, then add your sauce to a metal bowl and place it on top of your pot. The water acts as a buffer, and since your sauce is never touching the burner, it’ll warm up nice and slow.
How do you make the perfect Hollandaise sauce?
It’s one of the easiest sauces in the books, says Hughes. Start by melting two cups of butter into a pot. Once it’s heated and you can see a solid layer on top, separate: skim the hard top layer off the butter and set aside. This is called clarifying the butter. Then, using a double boiler, crack four eggs into the top bowl or boiler and whisk them. To avoid cooking them too much, Hughes periodically lifts the metal bowl from the double boiler. Next, start to incorporate the butter into the eggs, using the whisk. Once that’s done, add a bit of cayenne, mustard, salt, pepper and a little bit of lemon juice.