Sauces comprise the honor and glory of French Cookery. They have contributed to its superiority... Sauces are the orchestration and accompaniment of a fine meal, and enable a good chef or cook to demonstrate their talent..."
A little Bit of Kitchen Talk and a read into the background of sauces is a good way to understand the liquids that flavour our dishes! Afterall; if sauces could do that to the French Cuisine, just think of what they can do to yours!! Once we grasp the understanding of ingredients, their functions, textures and flavours it becomes easier to construct our own dishes and come up with signature food creations.
Sauces are used to add flavouring that is compatible with the ingredients used in making a dish.
The Evolution of Sauces
Early versions of French Sauces like: Cameline, poivarde, Robert... were either very spicy or sweet and sour due to their dependence on condiments which produced such flavours. They were basically made with hot stocks | broths, which are mainly wine based, also using other cooking juices and were sometimes mixed with dried breadcrumbs.
In the 17th and 18th Century more refined and aromatic sauce preparations were created; like: Béchamel, Soubise, Duxelles and mayonnaise sauces. But what started the whole sauce classification process was the renowned French Chef and Pastry cook Carême.
There is a great amount of finess, talent, and knowledge involved in the preparation of sauces. therefore; the Sauce Chef of the kitchen staff had always been considered to be a great technician and this position as a prestigious one.
Sauces are classified into 3 main categories
- 'Hot Sauces' have numerous versions and preparation. They are subdivided into Brown Sauces and White Sauces (Basic Brown Sauces Tomato Sauce, Espagnole and Demi-glace. Basic White Sauces Béchamel and Velouté: the two have inumerable variations.)
- 'Cold Sauces' have many variations and are usually based on mayonnaise or vinaigrette.
- ' Dessert Sauces' These can be hot or cold. they can be poured over the dessert or served separately. Custard cream is a popular dessert sauce, there is also chocolate sauce and fruits sauces. Dessert sauces may often be made out of fruits in the form of a puree, jelly or juices of baked fruits.
|Chateaubriand with Bearnaise Sauce & Chunky Mustard Sauce|
Also added to the repertoire of sauces are those based on the use of a specific ingredient like:
Red or White Wine : Bourguignonne Sauce
Fresh Cream : Normande Sauce
Fresh Butter : Beurre Blanc
Mustard : Dijonnaise Sauce
Shallots : Bordelaise Sauce
Onions : Lyonnaise Sauce
Garlic : aïoli
Then evolved the tendency to produce lighter sauces, and nowadays chefs use a mixture of sauces derived from curd cheese, yoghurts... Names of sauces can often reflect its ingredients; like Paprika Sauce, Truffles Sauce...etc
A sauce can be thick or thin. Sauces can be clear, strained or with visible ingredients in them. They can be used to season raw food such as tomato with vinaigrette in a salad, it can be served with a cold dish like mayyonaise and coldcuts, it can also be served with a hot dish like chateaubriand béarnaise, or sole normande. Some sauces can be part of the dish like coque au vin and ragouts, or can be seperate accompaniments to a dish...
Ideally; deep heavy saucepans should be used to prepare sauces, as they evenly distribute heat and prevent sauces from burning or curdling. The techniques used in preparing sauces are: deglazing, reducing, thickenning, emulsifying, thinning with liquid, enriching with cream or egg...etc
The 4 Classic Methods of Sauce prepartion
- Mixing together the cold ingredients like in the preparation of a vinaigrette.
- Emulsification; which is mixing together liquids that do not normally stay mixed. in this method an emulsifying agent is used to hold the ingredients together. this method is used for cold sauces such as mayyonaise, tartare..etc.
- Making a roux is widely used. It involves heating butter and flour together to form a paste. this method is used in sauces like Béchamel.
- Cooking a stock | Broth and thickening it is a widely used first stage to prepare a variety of sauces. these sauces may be thickened by butter or cornflour, or a brown or white roux could be added to them...etc
Happy Saucing :)