Classic Sauce Recipies

In many ways, sauces are the Cinderella component of meals. Often thrown together at the last minute or just 'there' to keep other foods moist. Or, meat juices are thickened with flour and combined with water and/or wine to form a gravy.

Yet, in the French culinary tradition a sauce is an integral component of the meal. A sauce should complement a meal and lift the flavours of the dishes being prepared. Which is why, all kitchens based on the French tradition will have a specific saucier to create sauces.

Of course, sauces all hail back to the one-pot tradition of cooking stews in a single pot over a fire. Only later, with the development of cooking ranges and special pans could the main foods and the sauces be prepared separately. Indeed, it's with the Roman tradition of multi-couse meals that sauces, as we know them today, (known as condimentum) begin to develop.

It should also be remembered that many dishes, like ragus are, themselves, cooked in thick (often tomato-based) sauces as are many fish dishes. There are a range of classic sauces such as Béchamel, Holandaise, Ragù, Piquante, Marinara, along with barbecue sauces and hot-pepper sauces that form the foundation for much of modern cookery and should be in every cook's repertoire.

The classic sauce, of course, is a basic white sauce, a recipe for which is given below:

Classic White Sauce

425ml milk
2 sticks of celery
1 bay leaf
1 blade of mace
10 while black peppercorns
1 0.5mm slice of onion
40g butter
20g plain flour
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Place the milk in a small pan along with the celery, bay leaf, mace, peppercorns and onion. Cook on low heat until it comes just to a simmer (about 5 minutes) then remove from the heat and strain into a jug or bowl (discard the flavourings).

Add the butter to the pan and melt gently then add the flour and stir-in vigourously to make a smooth paste. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking all the while (incorporate each slug of liquid completely before you add the next) and continue until all the liquid is incorporated.

Turn the heat to its lowest setting and allow to sauce to cook slowly for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Season with salt and black pepper and use immediately.

The next recipe is for a barbecue sauce, based on an Australian original:

Barbecue Sauce

1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp mustard powder
1 tsp hot chilli powder(1 tsp of ground mace
1/2 tsp salt(180ml passata (tomato sauce)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 allspice berries, ground to a powder
2 juniper berries, crushed
10 long pepper fruit, ground to a powder (optional)

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir to combine. For an extra kick add 10 long pepper fruit ground to a powder.

Use as a marinade and/or basting sauce for barbecued meats.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the creator of the Celtnet Recipes free recipe site where you can find many sauce and sauce-based recipes as part of the sauce, jam and condiment recipe section of the site.