A sauce is a liquid or semi liquid preparation served with food
principally to enhance its flavour, appearance or to make it more palatable.
Although there are now lots of ready made and convenience sauce mixes available
in one form or another, making your own sauce is not only cheaper but in most
cases they taste much nicer and once you've mastered the two basic sauce- making
techniques, you will be able to create all manner of sauces for any occasion in
a matter of minutes.
They are good way to add interest or a new dimension to everyday foods
such as meat, poultry, fish and vegetables and many are very simple and quick to
make. Next time you're having a dinner party and are at a loss for
something different to impress your guests, just think SAUCE.
Types of Sauces
Sauces can be hot or cold; sweet or savoury; thin or thick depending on how
they are being used.
Today the name sauce is given to many
preparations such as Bolognese sauce for pasta, bottled tomato, chilli and
brown sauces which should more properly be called condiments, salsas
(the Spanish word for sauce) and thin dipping sauces which would be better
referred to as accompaniments. On the other hand, the name isn't commonly
applied to some items when, logically speaking, perhaps it should be, such as
gravies, vinaigrettes and coulis.
In classic French cuisine, there are two main techniques for making
thickened sauces. The first is by using a roux and the second uses egg yolks to
create an emulsion and
from these two methods, grandes or mother sauces are made
which can then further enhanced and made into a very wide range of sweet and
Two other classic sauces are custard or Crème Anglaise which uses egg yolks to
thicken milk and thin vinegar based sauces such as mint sauce.
Roux Based Sauces
These sauces can be made thin enough to pour or thick enough to bind together
ingredients such as in vol au vent fillings and are thickened with ordinary flour which is cooked with butter
before the addition of liquid.
Roux is the name given to a cooked
butter and flour mixture which is used
to thicken liquids. Sauces made using
this method are very versatile as they
can be made thin enough to pour,
slightly thicker to coat or thick enough
to bind together ingredients such as in
vol au vent fillings and as the base in
To make a roux,
the butter is melted then an equal amount of plain flour is added and cooked for a
before the addition of liquid. The amount of time the flour and butter are cooked before the
addition of liquid, plays an important part in the finished appearance of the
White Roux - 1-2 minutes
when a very white sauce is required
Blond Roux - 2-3 minutes until
straw coloured suitable for most white sauces
Brown Roux - 3-5 minutes or
until a nut brown colour
About Mother Sauces
Mother sauces are so named because
you can make lots of variations from the basic sauce recipe. The mother sauces using the roux method are two white sauces -
a brown sauce -
difference between the two
white mother sauces is that
a Béchamel is made
with seasoned flavoured
milk, whilst a Velouté
is made with a light
coloured stock such as
chicken, fish or veal.
more simple white sauce, suitable
for most uses, can be made with
unflavoured milk. This has
the added advantage that it
can then be made into a
sweet or savoury sauce.
the video on the right, I make a classic
Béchamel sauce using the
roux method which has mostly
been filmed in real time so you
can see how quick and easy
it is to do.
forms the basis of
many other sauces including mornay (cheese) Soubise (onion), Indienne (curry)
and Aurore (tomato). Click
the full sized
These are sauces which are primarily thickened with eggs which are whisked with
other ingredients, until thick and smooth. There are two mother sauces in this
category - Hollandaise and Mayonnaise.
This method can be
used to make warm or cold sauces and
although these sauces are less
versatile than those made using the roux
method, they can however be made thin
enough to pour such as hollandaise or
thick enough to bind together
ingredients such as mayonnaise and can have added ingredients
to create many different flavoured
components of emulsified sauces are egg
yolks and oil or melted butter
(depending on the sauce) which are
whisked together until thickened. The
addition of the oil/melted butter to the
egg yolks must be done slowly to prevent
the mixture splitting.
traditionally, this was done using a
hand balloon whisk, however many find it
easier to use an electric hand whisk or,
in the case of mayonnaise, a food processor
which means you only have to concentrate
on adding the oil rather than on whisking or
steadying the bowl.
Emulsion Mother Sauces
There are two mother sauces in
this category - Hollandaise and Mayonnaise.
difference between the two
emulsion mother sauces is that
a Mayonnaise is very
thick and always served cold, whilst
is generally of pouring
consistency and mostly served warm.