Thursday nights will bring Advanced Sauces to my repertoire.  I was not looking forward to the class for 2 reasons:

  1. Almost everyone I know from my previous classes is taking the class on Wednesday night, meaning I would not know anyone in the Thursday class.
  2. After a cursory review of the syllabus, it all looked like a review of the sauces we learned in the introductory course, Stocks, Sauces, and Soups, and this camper was none too pleased about that considering how much cash I’m putting on the table for these classes.

But, I decided to give it a chance, and boy, I’m glad I’m sticking with it.

We are a small group, and my classmates, from what I can tell are salt-of-the-earth types. True, I didn’t know most of them before Thursday, but I’m looking forward to working with them.

We also have Chef Stranek as an instructor, and I like him.  He is, in the eloquent words of a classmate who shall go unnamed, “kind of a hard-ass” but he’s a good guy who wants us to learn.  Plus, he’s a straight-shooter,  a man of few words who is effective in communicating what he needs to, no more.  Good stuff. I like people like that.

Really, I like all kinds of people, but in an instructor, those are good qualities.

Last night was largely review, but we made a couple of new things, one of which I plan to repeat for any occasion worthy of a celebration, because this stuff is the bomb.

What sauce could possibly bring so much pleasure?  Zabaglione, of course.

Say it with me:  ZA-BA-GLEE (love that show)-OWN-A.  Zabaglione!  Sounds like something a magician would say after a seriously gnarly trick.

I’ve actually heard of this sauce, and I may have even tasted it at some time in my life, but never really knew what it was or how it was made.  Turns out it’s made using hollandaise technique, which isn’t very difficult.  Who knew?

Basic formula for Zabaglione:

2 oz. marsala (or champagne, white wine, cognac, or other liqueur*)

2 oz. sugar

3 egg yolks

In this version, I am using Grand Marnier.

Combine all in a metal bowl with a whisk.  Place bowl over low heat (or if you need a little security, place it over a bowl of simmering water), and whisk vigorously and consistently until it reaches ribbon stage and is steaming.  Basically, you’re whisking until the yolks are cooked, but not scrambled.  It will probably take about 10 minutes. (Yes, your arm will be tired.)

Ribbon stage looks just like how it sounds – it looks like a silky ribbon, the sauce will nicely coat the back of a spoon and as you mix you will leave a trail in your bowl.

This is how it will look after you've whisked it enough.

*If you use a liqueur or something stronger than a white wine, you may want to reduce the amount for a less boozy result, and instead use a bit of water to dilute the mixture.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but zabaglione is much greater than the sum of its parts.

We poured the sauce over strawberries, gave it some broiler action (called a salamander) for a couple of minutes to brown the top, and it tasted like toasted marshmallows, only better.  You could fold whipped cream into it and make a mousse, trifle, or parfait, or freeze it for a frozen dessert.

Here is my Grand Marnier zabaglione with sliced pears and a dollop of creme fraiche. I also mixed some creme fraiche into the mixture. Berries would be better, but I didnt have any on hand.

Versatile and delicious.  You can’t ask for much more than that.