Friday, May 25, 2012

Black Sauce, Anyone?

Sabina Welserin’s coloured roast chickens intrigue me immensely, and I have been pondering upon the impact of the colour of sauces ever since I posted the story. I am equivocal about the idea of black sauce. Black is a difficult colour to create in the kitchen. Would a black sauce look appealing?

Admittedly, soy sauce is black enough, but it is more of a condiment, is it not? And anyway, it is a commercial preparation on the whole, not a product of the average kitchen. Black butter sauce is common, but is actually brown, so does not really qualify.

Sabina Welserin’s recipe for black sauce for fowl required ‘sufficient powdered cloves’ to make the sauce ‘truly black’. Is this possible? It would add up to an awful lot of cloves.  Methinks it would be dark, but impossible to make truly black – and overpowering in smell and taste.

How about other recipes for black sauce? Welserin does have another version (with a bonus yellow sauce), in her recipe for boar’s head. Would it be truly black? I leave it to you to decide.

How to cook a wild boar's head, also how to prepare a sauce for it.
A wild boar's head should be boiled well in water and, when it is done, laid on a grate and basted with wine, then it will be thought to have been cooked in wine. Afterwards make a black or yellow sauce with it. First, when you would make a black sauce, you should heat up a little fat and brown a small spoonful of wheat flour in the fat and after that put good wine into it and good cherry syrup, so that it becomes black, and sugar, ginger, pepper, cloves and cinnamon, grapes, raisins and finely chopped almonds. And taste it, however it seems good to you, make it so.
If you would make a yellow sauce: Then make it in the same way as the black sauce, only take saffron instead of the syrup and put no cloves therein, so you will also have a good sauce.

From a much earlier cookery manuscript, the Forme of Cury, compiled about A.D. 1390, by the Master-Cooks of King Richard II, we have a similar liver-based ‘sauce noir [black]’ for capons.

Sawse Noyre For Capouns Yrosted.
Take the lyuer of Capons and roost it wel. take anyse and greynes de Parys*. gyngur. Canel [cinnamon]. & a lytill crust of brede and grinde it smale. and grynde it up with verions. and wit grece of Capouns. boyle it and serue it forth.

* greynes de Parys = grains of paradise, melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper [ Aframomum melegueta is a species in the ginger family, from West Africa]

Does the modern cook make Black Sauce? I don’t know of any recipes, but am on the watch out. I see another black sauce post in the future, folks, so please keep checking back.

Quotation for the Day.

“Tether even a roasted chicken.”
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai


Phil said...

Boil up some black beans and make a paste or use the water? Maybe?

SometimesKate said...

If you used some of the dark pan drippings it might make it darker. Brown some bacon, and add some sugar till it caramelizes?

TerryB said...

What about squid ink pasta (assuming the ink isn't infused into the paste itself)?