A little sauce can get you a long, long way. Whether you’re trying to rescue a culinary disaster, or just to spice up something bland you cooked on a budget, knowing how to throw together half a dozen common ingredients can make all the difference when it comes to keeping the kids happy or impressing a date. Everyone knows that the recipes to the world’s greatest sauces are kept top secret by the descendants of their inventors – but those inventors only stumbled upon the magic by learning the basics and then experimenting. There are a few key spells that anyone who enters a kitchen should have in their repertoire, and where you take it from there depends on your courage, imagination, and the iron stomachs of your regular guests.
These ‘standards’ are achievable – they’ve become standards for a reason – and even if you’re new to the concept of making a sauce (rather than adding hot water to a packet) you’ll find a lot of the names are simple and familiar: BBQ, tomato, Hollandaise… how difficult can it be? The French, for example, base a lot of their cooking on derivations of just five ‘mother sauces’ – Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat and Hollandaise. Béchamel you’ll know from all those lasagnes you’ve been warming through. Make your own from milk, parsley, peppercorns, and a few kitchen staples, and you’ll conjure up that Italian farmhouse feeling that microwave meals just never seem to evoke.
Another great boon of knowing a few sauces is the facility to make a standard issue dinner taste like a trip to exotic climes. Argentinian Chimchurri, for example, is a great way to spice up your regular steak and chips, while if you actually hail from South America you might prefer to exoticise your meat with a splodge of British ‘bread sauce’. Yes, that’s a sauce made from bread – stale bread, in fact.
Starting to get an idea how versatile your cooking can become with a few simple sauce recipes at your fingertips? Be sure to check out this new infographic with instructions on the twelve you need to know. Within a fortnight, your culinary achievements will have blossomed without needing to step too far from the spice rack – and you’ll have the foundations ready to take tasty cooking to the next level.
BBC Good Food. 2016. Bread Sauce. bbcgoodfood.com
Burton, J. 2011. How to make sauce Espagnole. stellaculinary.com
Ferretti, E. 2011. Food’s Five Biggest Secret Recipes, and How They Are Kept Safe. foxnews.com
Great British Chefs. Date unknown. How to make a Beurre Blanc. greatbritishchefs.com
Lawson, N. Date unknown. My Mother’s Bread Sauce. nigella.com
Oliver, J. Date unknown. Super eggs Benedict & hollandaise sauce. jamieoliver.com
BBC, Date unknown. Steak with chimichurri sauce. bbcgoodfood.com
Oliver, J. Date unknown. Griddled steak with horseradish sauce. jamieoliver.com
Slater, N. 2007. Other people’s recipes – my top 10. theguardian.com (Nigella Lawson Recipe)
Smith, D. Date unknown. Béchamel sauce. bbc.co.uk
Smith, D. Date unknown. English parsley sauce. deliaonline.com
Smith, D. Date unknown. Classic fresh tomato sauce. deliaonline.com
Stewart, M. Date unknown. Classic Barbecue Sauce. marthastewart.com
Stewart, M. Date unknown. Velouté. marthastewart.com
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