Sauce Recipes

Turn an ordinary dinner into an imaginative creation with a delicious, easy-to-make sauce. Sauces add a variety of features to foods, such as complimenting flavors, creating attractive appearances, and adding texture.

Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook 

This is the book for cooks who want to take their cooking to a whole new level. Martha Holmberg was trained at La Varenne and is an award-winning food writer. Her look at this sometimes-intimidating genre—expressed in clear, short bites of information and through dozens of process photographs—delivers the skill of great sauce-making to every kind of cook, from beginners to those more accomplished who wish to expand their repertoire. More than 100 recipes for sauces range from standards such as béarnaise, hollandaise, and marinara to modern riffs such as maple-rum sabayon, caramelized onion coulis, and coconut-curry spiked chocolate sauce. An additional 55 recipes use the sauces to their greatest advantage, beautifying pasta, complementing meat or fish, or elevating a cake to brilliant.Modern Sauces is both an inspiration and a timeless reference on kitchen technique.

Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day

Repertoire of Food Flavors

It’s very easy to cook when you have a great sauce to start with. Every great cook or chef must learn how to prepare great sauces. Whether simple or more intricate, a sauce will enhance the flavor and appearance of the food it accompanies. Sauces may also add nutritional value. In this chapter, we will talk about some basic ideas and procedures for making sauces. By definition, a sauce is a thickened, flavored liquid.

The plate is an empty canvas, so you can use a sauce to accent the plate, bring out the appearance of an ingredient, or enhance the flavor. Sauce design is only limited by creativity. The four primary tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, and salty—they all offer endless variety. Spices and herbs delight us with their tastes and smells. Food should never be boring or impersonal. Use it for all it is worth to achieve quality in care.

Premade Sauces and Dressing Convenience

There are many varieties of premade sauces available in food stores and specialty shops that can be used. Experimentation with premade sauces will be the best way to determine what fits your personal preference. Don’t be scared to make life easier by using a premade, packaged dressing and sauce.

Using premade sauces and dressing will add convenience to the sauce-making process. Although there are many premade products available, many people prefer to make their own sauces.

Two Categories of Sauces

All sauces fall into one of two categories: warm sauces and cold sauces. You don’t have to know all of them. Homemade sauces have something extra that you will appreciate.

  • Cold Sauce Varieties: Vinaigrette dressing (oil and vinegar), cocktail, cold mustard, and salsa. Cold sauce can be oil-based, made of fruits, or made of vegetables. It is always served cold.
  • Warm Sauce Varieties: The following is list of some simple or basic hot sauces. By using the basics, you can create great dishes for a wonderful meal.
  • Hot Butter Sauce: This is a quick and easy way to cook meats and vegetables is in butter seasoned with herbs, lemon juice, and garlic. These are known as butter sauces. Two popular examples are garlic-herb butter and lemon butter.
  • Velouté (Light Stock Sauce): This is a stock-based sauce. You can use fish stock or clam juice for seafood.
  • Béchamel (Basic White Sauce): Made by combining butter with flour to make a smooth paste (roux), and then adding liquid (cream or milk) to the roux to form a sauce.
  • Tomato Sauces: These are tomato-based sauces with a combination of seasonings—to add flavor—and a thickener (if needed).
  • Egg-Based Sauces: In an egg-based sauce, the addition of butter or oil to egg yolks causes the sauce to thicken.

Sauce Thickening Agents

The roux technique is used to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies. Cornstarch is a thickening agent which, when mixed with water, juice, or stock and subjected to heat, provides a semi-clear glossy finish to a sauce. Sauces should be thickened just enough to coat food lightly, yet still run off it.

The most common roux varieties are white, blonde, and brown. All of these are made from the same ingredients to begin with, but change in character (color) as heat is applied. To make a roux, use equal weight proportions of fat and flour, mixed to form a thick paste. The source of fat can be butter, margarine, shortening, chicken fat, oil, or rendered meat drippings. When preparing a roux, always make sure that you thoroughly blend in the flour, leaving no lumps. A roux should be cooked over very low heat for about five minutes, or longer, as needed. If a roux is not cooked long enough to displace the raw taste of flour, this unpleasant flavor will overpower the strongest stocks and seasonings. When cooking a roux, mix the butter and flour thoroughly to allow the starch granules to swell evenly. If you do not, they will later fail to absorb the liquid and your sauces will be too thin. Cornstarch is often used when translucency is desired. When using cornstarch, smoothly blend in an adequate amount of cold liquid. Next, add the boiling liquid, stirring it to prevent any lumping or scorching. If you use too much, your sauce will be too thick. Add a little at time until you reach the desired consistency.

The third thickening agent is arrowroot, which makes a more delicately textured sauce; it is best prepared ten minutes before use. The flavor of arrowroot is neutral and it does not need to be cooked in order to remove the raw flavor possessed by flour. Therefore, it can be added to the sauce at a lower temperature.

Other thickening agents include egg yolks, potato starch, and the technique of reduction.

Clarified Butter or Drawn Butter

Yields two cups.

Clarified butter—also called drawn butter—is great for lobster. Clarified butter has a higher smoking point, since the milk solids have been removed. Hence, it may be used to cook at a high temperature.

To Prepare Clarified Butter: Slowly melt two or more pounds of unsalted butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Melt until separation of the milk solids occurs, which will sink to the bottom of the pan when most of the water evaporates. Skim off the foam on the surface. Next, using a large ladle, separate the clear butter from the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. This is clarified butter. You can save unused clarified butter for later use.

Tangy Cocktail Sauce

Yields three-fourths of a cup.
Cocktail sauce makes a great condiment for hors d’oeuvres and seafood dishes.

  • ¼ cup CHILI SAUCE
  • ¼ large LEMON, squeezed for juice
  • 3 drops TABASCO® SAUCE

Combine the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture until it is well blended. Chill the mixture and serve it.

Spicy Mustard Sauce

Yields one and half cups.
Mustard sauce is spicy and goes great with stone crabs and crab cakes.

  • 1 tablespoon DRY WHITE WINE
  • ⅛ teaspoon DRY MUSTARD
  • ¼ cup MAYONNAISE
  • 2 tablespoons SOUR CREAM
  • 2 tablespoons DIJON MUSTARD
  • 1 tablespoon HONEY
  • ¼ large LEMON, squeezed for juice

In a small mixing bowl, blend the white wine and dry mustard until the latter is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk them until they are well blended. Chill the mixture and serve it.

Caper Tartar Sauce

Yields three-fourths of a cup.
Homemade tartar sauce tastes a lot better than store-bought tartar sauces, since you can adjust the flavor to suit your palate.

  • ½ cup MAYONNAISE
  • 2 tablespoons SWEET PICKLE RELISH
  • ½ tablespoon CAPERS, small
  • ¼ medium LEMON, squeezed for juice
  • 2 drops TABASCO® SAUCE
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste

Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture until it is well blended. Chill the mixture and serve it.

Basil and Garlic French Dressing

Yields one and fourths cups.
This is a simply fantastic dressing that is also quick and easy to make. It can liven up any bland food—it may be even more than you asked for.

  • ½ cup SALAD OIL
  • 2 tablespoons DRY WHITE WINE
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon DRY MUSTARD
  • 2 tablespoons FRESH BASIL, chopped
  • ¼ tablespoon FRESH GARLIC, peeled and minced

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients. Cover it and purée the ingredients for three to four seconds. Refrigerate it, covered, for at least two hours. Mix it well before serving it.

Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing

Yields three-fourths of a cup.
This dressing has a wonderful flavor and a unique texture; it will be an excellent light starter for the rich dishes that it accompanies. When choosing shallots, look for firm, plump bulbs that are heavy for their size; avoid those with a soft appearance.

  • ¼ cup CHAMPAGNE
  • ½ teaspoon SHALLOTS, peeled and minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon DRY TARRAGON LEAVES
  • 1 teaspoon DIJON MUSTARD
  • ¾ teaspoon GRANULATED SUGAR
  • 1 teaspoon FRESH PARSLEY, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons RICE WINE VINEGAR
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste

Place the champagne and shallots in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat. Allow the mixture to reduce to ⅓ of its original volume. Remove it and cool. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, sugar, parsley, rice wine vinegar, and cooled champagne-shallot reduction in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking, until the oil is incorporated. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it. If the vinaigrette separates, simply whisk it before use. Use “seasoned” rice wine vinegar in this recipe—it is sweeter and lighter than the regular variety of rice wine vinegar.

Key West Cider Lime Dressing

Yields one and a fourths cup.
The combination of citrus fruits and mint is refreshing on a fresh salad. This dressing is very easy to prepare.

  • ½ cup SALAD OIL
  • 1 tablespoon CIDER VINEGAR
  • ½ tablespoon LIME JUICE
  • 1 tablespoon GRANULATED SUGAR
  • ¼ teaspoon SALT
  • ⅛ teaspoon PAPRIKA
  • 2 tablespoons FRESH MINT, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a blender or a food processor, cover it, and purée the ingredients for three to four seconds. Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to serve. Mix it well before serving it.

Honey-Mustard Poppy Seed Dressing

Yields one and half cups.
This salad dressing is an amazing classic that you and your guests will love and treasure. The secret to this recipe is the choice of oil and the blending of the honey and mustard. To create special gifts, make extra dressing and place it in pretty bottles.

  • ¼ cup HONEY, heated
  • 2 tablespoons DIJON MUSTARD
  • 1 cup CORN OIL
  • ⅛ teaspoon DRY MUSTARD
  • ½ tablespoon DRY WHITE WINE
  • 2 teaspoons POPPY SEEDS
  • ⅛ teaspoon SALT

In a small mixing bowl, add hot honey and mustard; blend the ingredients with a wire whisk for twenty seconds. Next, using a wire whisk, slowly blend in the corn oil, whip it, and then slowly add the vinegar. Blend the mixture for ten seconds. Blend the dry mustard with the white wine to form a paste. Add the dry mustard and wine mixture, poppy seeds, and salt. Blend the mixture for five seconds. Chill the mixture and serve it. Whip it again just before serving.

Yogurt and Papaya Dressing

Yields one cup.
This delicious dressing is very easy to make. Cayenne pepper is a hot, pungent powder made with several tropical chili peppers, so use it lightly.

  • ¼ medium PAPAYA
  • ½ cup PLAIN YOGURT
  • 1 pinch CAYENNE PEPPER

Peel the papaya. Halve it lengthwise, remove the seeds from the center, and discard the remainder. Chop the papaya very finely. Combine the papaya with the rest of the ingredients, mixing them well. Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to serve it.

Signature Honey Bourbon Glaze

Yields four cups.
This is a world-famous recipe that is ideal for barbequing and is great for just about any type of meat. Save the leftover glaze for your friends. This sauce improves with age. If time permits, keep it in the refrigerator for a day or so before you intend to serve it, allowing it to develop a deeper, richer taste.

  • ½ large ONION, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium GARLIC CLOVES, peeled and minced
  • ¾ cup MOLASSES
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste
  • 2 cups KETCHUP
  • ¼ cup TOMATO PASTE
  • ⅓ cup VINEGAR
  • 1 tablespoon LIQUID SMOKE
  • ½ cup BROWN SUGAR, packed
  • ⅓ teaspoon TABASCO® SAUCE, or less

Combine the onion, garlic, and honey bourbon whiskey in a three-quart saucepan. Sauté the ingredients until the onion and garlic are translucent (approximately ten minutes). Remove the mixture from the heat and flame for twenty seconds. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to a low-medium simmer. Simmer for twenty minutes, stirring constantly.

For a smoother sauce, run the sauce through a medium strainer to remove the bits of onion and garlic. Cool. Cover the mixture and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it. Mix it well before serving.

Vinaigrette Dressing with Capers and Herbs

Yields one and half cups.
Capers will have a pungent flavor that will lend a piquant taste to sauces and condiments. Homemade dressing possesses distinctive flavorings that their store-bought counterparts simply cannot match.

  • 1 cup SALAD OIL
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons SMALL CAPERS, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon FRESH CHIVES, chopped

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix them well. Cover the mixture and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. Mix before serving.

Chablis Sauce with Sweet Shallots

Yields half a cup.
This is a classic French sauce made with a shallot reduction, into which cold butter is whisked. When perfectly seasoned, it is an excellent accompaniment to seafood.

1 medium SHALLOT, peeled and minced
½ pound UNSALTED BUTTER, cut into ten pieces
2 teaspoons FRESH TARRAGON, chopped
1 teaspoon FRESH CHIVES, chopped
¼ medium LEMON, squeezed for juice
SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste

Preparing Chablis Sauce with Sweet Shallots Beurre Blanc: Place the shallots in a heavy saucepan. Then, add the vinegar and wine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the liquid until it has almost completely evaporated. Lower the heat and quickly beat in the butter, one piece at a time. Beat the mixture until all butter is melted.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it into another pan, preventing the heat from causing the sauce to break. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust the flavor with salt and white pepper.

Classical Hollandaise Sauce

Yields one fourth of a cup.
This sauce will add a wonderful taste to vegetables, beef, fish, and chicken dishes. Hollandaise is made with butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice, and seasoned for extra flavor. Hollandaise sauce is made in a double boiler to prevent the eggs from turning into scrambled eggs. Additionally, high heat will cause the sauce to break.

  • 1 large EGG YOLK
  • 1 teaspoon FRESH LEMON JUICE
  • 1 drop TABASCO® SAUCE
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste

Use a double boiler over moderate heat. (Tempering Techniques.) Add the egg yolks and a tablespoon of water and, using a wire whisk, cook the egg yolks while whipping constantly until the eggs start to fluff. Remove the mixing bowl from the double boiler if the eggs start to cook. Place it back in the pan and keep whipping the mixture until the yolks are fluffy and stand up like peaks. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly add the melted butter, thoroughly whisking the mixture until all the butter is mixed in. Add the remaining ingredients.

Adjust the flavor with salt and white pepper. Serve it immediately.

Blender Method: In a blender, combine the egg yolks and lemon juice. Cover it and turn the motor on and off, in a quick motion, one time only. At high speed, gradually and steadily add the hot butter. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust the flavor with salt and white pepper. Serve it immediately.

Classical Béarnaise Sauce

Yields half a cup.
Hollandaise sauce and Béarnaise sauce are the aristocrats of sauces. Master this exquisite sauce by following the simple, step-by-step directions.

  • ⅛ small SHALLOT, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon FRESH TARRAGON, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon FRESH PARSLEY, finely chopped
  • ⅛ sprig FRESH THYME, finely chopped
  • ⅛ medium BAY LEAF
  • 3 tablespoons WHITE WINE VINEGAR
  • 3 tablespoons DRY WHITE WINE
  • 1 large EGG YOLK
  • 2 ounces SALTED BUTTER, finely diced
  • 1 drop LEMON JUICE, fresh
  • SALT and BLACK PEPPER, to taste

Place the shallots, tarragon, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar, and wine in a small saucepan and boil the mixture until it has reduced and ¾ tablespoon of liquid remains. Remove the mixture from the heat, strain it, and allow it to cool for one minute. To the top of a double boiler, add ½ of a tablespoon of cold water and an egg yolk, and constantly whisk the mixture over hot but not boiling water.

Add the flour and the butter (a few pieces at a time). Make sure the mixture is smooth before continuing to add the pieces of butter. When the sauce has thickened, add the tarragon mixture, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Creamy Béchamel Sauce

Yields a fourth of a cup.
Béchamel sauce is easy to make and is a wonderful accompaniment to other sauces. When cooking it, remember to use equal amounts of butter and flour. The amount of liquid that is added will determine the thickness of the sauce. This sauce is probably as versatile as tomato sauces.

  • 2 tablespoons CLARIFIED BUTTER
  • 2 tablespoons ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste

In a small saucepan, over low to moderate heat, add the butter and flour; stir until the mixture is smooth and paste-like in texture. Cook the mixture for three to four minutes, stirring constantly.

Next, slowly add the milk, stirring the mixture constantly with a wire whisk. Cook it until the sauce lightly thickens. Add more liquid if it is too thick. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and white pepper.

Swiss and Parmesan Mornay Sauce

Yields one and a half cups.
This is a unique variation of the classic Béchamel sauce, to which cheese has been added—typically, Parmesan and Swiss are used. With its wonderful essence of cheese, Mornay sauce adds a rich touch to vegetables and seafood.

  • ¼ cup SWISS CHEESE, chopped

Following the above recipe, prepare the Béchamel Sauce. Add the Parmesan and Swiss cheeses to the sauce. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over low heat until the cheese is melted. If needed, add more liquid.

Brown Sauce

Yields two plus cups.
To devise brown sauce, you will need a seasoned liquid with which to labor. For the purposes of this recipe, there are many bases you can work with: beef stock, pan drippings, beef consommé or soup, or beef broth.

  • 2 tablespoons CLARIFIED BUTTER
  • ½ medium TOMATO, chopped

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over low heat. Add the flour and blend the ingredients into a smooth, lump-free paste. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly over low heat, until the mixture has lightly browned. Add the stock gradually, stirring constantly until it is smooth. Add the tomatoes and mirepoix, and simmer the mixture until the sauce has reduced in half, stirring often.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and serve immediately. Alternatively, you may save it in refrigerator until it is needed.

Velouté Sauce (Stock)

Yields one cup.
One of the five “mother sauces,” Velouté is a stock-based white sauce. Chicken, veal, and fish stocks are most often used in this recipe and are thickened with a white roux. This sauce is used as a foundation for the creation of many other sauces

  • 2 tablespoons CLARIFIED BUTTER
  • 2 tablespoons ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR

In a medium-sized sauté pan, add the butter and flour to make a thick paste. Cook the mixture for two minutes over low heat. Let it cool for a few minutes and, stirring constantly, gradually add the stock to the pan. Reduce the heat and cook the mixture for ten minutes. Occasionally stir the stock and skim the top, if necessary. Strain the sauce and, if necessary, add more stock to thin it out. The consistency should not be too heavy. Put the sauce to the side for later. The following is a list of velouté sauces made with various stocks:

  • Clam Velouté: When making a clam velouté sauce, use canned clam juice.
  • Chicken Velouté: When making this use chicken stock.
  • Substitute: Use canned or jarred chicken stock as substitutes.

Tomato-Basil Sauce

Yields two and half cups.
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. This is an effortless tomato sauce that can be used in many of your favorite recipes. Fresh basil adds a delicious, flavorsome element to the sauce.

  • 1 tablespoon EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • ½ tablespoon FRESH GARLIC, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium VINE-RIPENED TOMATO, peeled
  • ¼ cup ONION, chopped
  • ¼ cup DRY WHITE WINE
  • 2 cups DICED TOMATO IN JUICE, canned
  • 1 cup TOMATO PURÉE, canned
  • 1 tablespoon GRANULATED SUGAR
  • SALT and WHITE PEPPER, to taste
  • ¼ cup FRESH BASIL, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pot. Add the garlic, onion, and parsley. Lightly sauté the ingredients for a few minutes until the aroma of the garlic and onion is evident. Do not allow the ingredients to brown. Use a lower heat setting while cooking so the garlic and onion do not brown.

Add the white wine and reduce the mixture in half. Next, add the diced tomato, tomato purée, and sugar. Simmer the mixture over low heat for about thirty minutes or until sauce thickens. In a blender, purée the tomato-basil sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper. Add the chopped basil and serve the sauce.


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