Sauces enrich cooked foods in different ways. They may use some of the cooking liquor, with added thickening, to enhance the taste. They may act as a contrast: a sharp apple saute cuts across the richness of pork; cheese sauce boosts the mild flavour of a cauliflower. Or you may use a cold sauce — vinaigrette with a salad, red currant or mint with lamb,
ROUX-BASED SAUCES A roux is a blend of equal quantities of fat (most often butter) and flour, cooked over a gentle heat before a liquid and seasoning are added. You can make a thin, pouring sauce or a thick sauce for coating and binding foods.
White sauces: use milk or a white stock for the liquid. For brown sauces, use a brown stock. For a white sauce, cook the fat and flour together for about two–three minutes; for a brown sauce, until it colours.
Basic white sauce Melt 15 g (½ oz) butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Blend in 15 g (½ oz) flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add 275– 300 ml (½ pint) milk or white stock, slowly at first, then more rapidly as the sauce begins to thicken. If the sauce goes lumpy, strain it through a sieve into a clean pan, using a wooden spoon.
Flavour with grated cheese, herbs such as parsley, mustard — whatever the recipe recommends.
You can thicken cooking liquid with cornflour or a blend of uncooked butter and flour (known as beurre manie). For the former, blend about 15 g (½ oz) cornflour with a little milk or cooking liquid, then stir it into the cooking liquor until smooth and slightly thickened. For beurre manie, blend together equal quantities (about 15 g (½ oz)) each butter and flour, then add in small dollops to the cooking liquid, stirring all the time until it is blended.
Made from the juices of a roasting joint or bird. For thin gravy, pour away and discard the fat from the roasting tin and add stock from the vegetables cooking on the stove to the juices. Season to taste. For thick gravy, pour off most of the fat (while retaining the juices), then add flour to the tin. Stir over a gentle heat until it browns, then add water or a stock cube. Taste, and season if necessary. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
EGG-BASED SAUCES Hollandaise is the most famous; serve warm with fish, poultry and vegetables.
Hollandaise sauce For 4-6 servings, you need 225 g (8 oz) butter, beaten yolks of 4 eggs, the juice of ½ lemon, salt and pepper. Heat water in a large saucepan until it reaches simmering point; meanwhile melt the butter in another pan. Put a large bowl over the simmering water and whisk the egg yolks, adding a little water. As soon as they begin to thicken, remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter, slowly at
first, until the sauce becomes smooth and glossy. Add the lemon juice and season to taste.
This sauce isn’t difficult to make: just make sure you cook it over gentle heat. If it begins to curdle, strain into a clean pan and beat in another egg yolk.
Basic Mayonnaise Recipe 2 egg yolks (size 1 or 2)
2.5 ml (½ level teaspoon) each of dry mustard, salt and caster sugar
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) Worcestershire sauce (optional)
275-300 ml (½ pt) salad oil
30 ml (2 tablespoons) vinegar or lemon juice
15 ml (1 tablespoon) hot water
Put yolks, mustard, salt and sugar, Worcestershire sauce (if used) and pepper into bowl. Beat until smooth. Add half the oil, a drop at a time, and continue beating until mayonnaise is very thick. Stir in 15 ml (1 tablespoon) vinegar or lemon juice. Beat in rest of oil gradually, about
10 ml (2 teaspoons) at a time. When all the oil has been added, stir in last 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of vinegar and the hot water. (The water helps to prevent separation.) Adjust seasoning to taste. Transfer to covered container. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Vinaigrette (salad) dressing To dress a salad for about four people, beat together 90 ml (6 tablespoons) of good olive or cooking oil with 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of wine or cider vinegar, or the juice of 1 lemon. Add a little dried mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.
Fruit-based sauces Simmer red currants, cranberries or apple slices with a little water, then add sugar to taste.