Cooking School – Sauces
Soy, barbecue, maybe even Tabasco … Sauces are great for those days when you just don’t have time to marinate the meat or fish you’re planning on having for dinner. Or maybe you’re a sauce aficionado. You like it anytime, anywhere, on anything.
Once upon a time the purpose of pouring a sauce over one’s dinner was to conceal the somewhat dubious freshness and taste of the food. Lucky for us, preservation and cooking methods have come a long way. So much so that sauces are now tantalizing additions that enhance the flavour of the food they accompany, elevating the mundane or the bland to new heights.
Every culture around the world has made a delicious contribution to the repertory of sauces known to chefs today. Everything from a basic tomato sauce to jerk, mole or curry, the right combination of fruit, herbs, spices, flour or wine can result in an explosion of flavour.
There are some basic principles involved in making a good sauce. The first thing to remember is that every sauce must include three components: a liquid (stock, wine, milk, tomato purée or butter), a thickener (flour stirred into oil or butter is called a roux, cornstarch stirred into water is called a slurry), and flavourings (herbs and spices).
If time is of the essence, you can make a sauce by simply using the juice left in the pan after you’ve sautéed meat, chicken or fish. De-glaze the pan by adding a splash of wine, then stir to loosen the bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan. Set the wine to simmer, and let it reduce until it’s thick and flavourful. Adding puréed vegetables to your sauce will also thicken it.