Sauces

Sauces

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A good sauce can add distinction to everyday foods – as nice for family meals as for special occasions. It is reassuring to know that there are really only three main groups of sauce: white, brown and emulsion.

When you become proficient at the basic recipes, you can make virtually any sauce recipe you come across. Also, there are myriad pan sauces which fit perfectly into today’s lifestyle – light, quick and foolproof to make – and simple fruit sauces, made from puréed and sweetened fruit.

Remember that a sauce should have body, but must never be so thick that it sits heavily on the food. A pouring or flowing sauce should run freely off a spoon; a coating sauce should be just dense enough to cling to the food but not to blanket it thickly. Be ready to add a little more liquid if your sauce is too heavy.

To store: Most sauces to be served separately with food can be prepared ahead and reheated when needed. Place hot sauce in a heatproof sauce container. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the sauce, then with a lid. When cool, store in the refrigerator. To reheat, remove plastic wrap, place sauce container in a pan of hot water and stir over very gentle heat until sauce is hot.

Emulsion sauces, such as hollandaise and béarnaise, must not be heated beyond lukewarm (it is quite correct to serve them at this temperature) or else they will separate; place the sauce container in a pan of warm water off the heat and stir until smooth.

Sauces based on a roux: The basis of many sauces is a roux, a cooked mixture of fat and flour. The longer it is cooked, the darker the colour becomes and the nuttier the flavour. A white or golden (blond) roux is used for the lighter coloured sauces, and a brown one for the dark sauces. It is important for a smooth result to cook the roux slowly, stirring, until it is the desired colour. When the liquid is added, the sauce must be stirred or whisked constantly until boiling so that it will thicken evenly without lumps.

White sauces

These are light in colour, usually creamy-white or a light straw colour, delicate in taste and smooth as satin. This smooth texture is achieved by a wellmade roux and the liquid being carefully added.

The two main white sauces are béchamel and velouté. Béchamel is made with butter, flour and milk, flavoured with aromatic vegetables and herbs; velouté is made with butter, flour and white stock – fish, chicken or veal, according to what food it is to accompany. A knob of butter is sometimes swirled into the sauce at the last moment for extra richness. A velouté sauce may also be enriched with egg yolks and cream.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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