Modern Sauces

As suggested in the introduction to this chapter, sauce-making has changed a great deal since Escoffier's day. Although our basic methods for making many of the sauces in the modern kitchen are derived from classical cuisine, details have changed. Perhaps the most important change is that chefs rely less on roux for thickening a sauce, while reduction has become more important to give sauces body (see p. 166).When starches are used, they are often purer starches such as arrowroot.

Chefs have also been influenced by other cuisines, such as those of Asia and Latin America, and have borrowed ingredients and procedures from many countries and regions to give variety to their repertoire of sauces.

Because of the ongoing experimentation and development of new sauces, it is difficult to classify and define them exactly, the way Escoffier did in the last century.We can, however, describe general groups that many of today's popular sauces fall into.The remaining recipes in this chapter include examples of these types of sauces.

A number of other popular sauces, such as barbecue sauce, that don't fit into any of the categories described in the following sections, are included in this chapter. Other sauce recipes are included elsewhere in this book, often as components of other recipes. Among the more important of these are vinaigrette and mayonnaise variations. These are traditionally used as salad dressings but are also used as sauces for meat, seafood, and vegetable items.

The following recipes from other chapters appear on the pages indicated.

Roast Beef Gravy, page 292 Jus Lié,page 292

Tomato Sauce for Pasta,with variations, page 639

Pesto,page 644

Mole Poblano,page 409

Salsa Verde, page 489

Basic Vinaigrette and variations,page 723

American French Dressing,page 725

Oriental Vinaigrette, page 725

Mayonnaise and variations, page 728

Broths and Jus

Beginning with the introduction of nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s, chefs looked for ways to eliminate starch thickeners in sauces in order to make them lighter.The technique of reduction to concentrate a sauce has been the most important tool in this effort. Reduction hasn't been a cure-all, however. First, some of the fresher, lighter flavors of a sauce are lost when a liquid is subjected to the long cooking required for reduction. In addition, reduced sauces sometimes become so gelatinous that they solidify when they cool—not an appetizing result.

Nevertheless, we have become accustomed to sauces that do not cling thickly to the meat, poultry, or seafood. Sauces, often in smaller quantities, are served under or around the item as often as over the top of it,perhaps even more often. Some chefs have gone to the extreme of serving the item in a little broth in place of a sauce.This technique has long been popular with seafood, as in the case of Seafood à la Nage (p. 487), but it is becoming more common with meat as well.The result is often something like a garnished consommé (pp.212-213),but with very little consommé and a full portion of meat and garnish.The recipe on page 330 is an example.

For a broth to work well as a substitute for a sauce, it should be well flavored and aromatic.Taste the broth and reduce it as necessary to concentrate the flavor,and check the seasonings carefully.

Procedure for Making a Meat Jus


Cut trimmings of the desired meat or poultry product into small pieces. Place them in a heavy pot over moderate heat.


Cook until well browned on all sides. Some liquid will be released from the meat. If the trimmings begin to simmer in these juices instead of

browning, just let them continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and browned on the bottom of the pot.


Deglaze with a small quantity of white wine or stock. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the juices again caramelize on the bottom.


Add enough stock to cover the meat. Stir to dissolve the caramelized juices on the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the liquid is completely reduced

and caramelized.


Again add enough stock to cover the meat. Stir to dissolve the caramelized juices. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and degrease.

A jus is very much like a broth except that it is usually more concentrated,although still unthickened.The term jus is usually used in two ways:

1. The unthickened, natural juices resulting from a roast.This is the more traditional meaning of jus (see p. 184).To make a traditional jus,the drippings of a roast are deglazed with stock or other liquid,reduced slightly,seasoned,strained,and served unthickened.

To make a meat jus without a roast, follow the procedure above.

2. An unthickened liquid carrying the concentrated flavor of a specific ingredient. This type of jus is often made from vegetables and is sometimes called an essence. To make a vegetable essence, the vegetable is simmered with a stock or broth until the liquid is concentrated and flavorful.The recipe for Mushroom Jus (p. 188,also called mushroom essence) is an example of this type of preparation.


Vegetable purées have long been used as sauces.Tomato sauce is the classic example. However, nearly any vegetable can be puréed and used as a sauce, provided that it is flavorful, properly seasoned, and of an appropriate consistency or thickness. A vegetable purée is sometimes called a coulis.

Purées of starchy vegetables, such as squash or dried beans,may need to be thinned with stock, broth, or water. Even potato purée is sometimes thinned and used as a sauce, usually enriched with a little raw butter stirred in. In addition, potato and other thick purées are used as thickeners for other sauces.

Some vegetables, such as asparagus,make a watery purée.These purées can be reduced to thicken them, but be careful not to lose the fresh vegetable taste and color. This should especially be avoided in the case of green vegetables, which quickly lose their color (see p. 509). Although thin vegetable purées may be thickened with a starch, it is more common to leave them thin or to bind them lightly by finishing them with raw butter (monter au beurre, p. 167) or reducing them with a little cream until they have the desired consistency.

Cream Reductions

In the era of nouvelle cuisine, sauces based on reduced cream became a popular substitute for roux-thickened white sauces. When heavy cream is reduced, it thickens slightly. A common fault with cream reduction sauces is reducing the cream too much, giving it a heavy texture. If it is reduced beyond this point, it is likely to break, and the butterfat will separate. For an appealing, light texture,reduce the cream until it is about two-thirds of its original volume.

A reduced cream sauce is a mixture of reduced cream and a concentrated, flavorful stock.White stock is most often used, although brown cream sauces may also be prepared using brown stock. For good results, the stock should be reduced by about three-fourths. Flavored sauces can be made by reducing the stock with flavoring ingredients, as in the recipe for Chipotle Cream Sauce on page 190. Two methods are possible:

1. Reducing the cream to the desired consistency and then adding it to the stock reduction.

2. Adding fresh cream to the stock reduction and reducing the mixture to the desired consistency.

Many chefs feel the first method is more controllable. See the following procedure:

1. Reduce white stock or brown stock by about three-fourths, or until it is concentrated and flavorful.

2. Measure the reduction. For each pint (500 mL) reduction, measure about 11/2 pints (750 mL) heavy cream.

3. Place the cream in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat and reduce until lightly thickened, or until reduced by about one-third. Stir from time to time with a whip.

4. Bring the stock reduction to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir in the reduced cream.

5. Check the consistency. Thicken, if necessary, by reducing further, or thin with additional heavy cream.

6. Season and strain.

Procedure for Making a Cream Reduction Sauce

Salsas, Relishes, and Chutneys

It is said that, in the United States, salsa has become even more popular than ketchup. The salsa referred to is, of course, the Mexican mixture of chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles, herbs, and other ingredients. Salsa is actually the Spanish and the Italian word for "sauce," so the word refers to many types of preparations, both raw and cooked,not just this one Mexican relish. Nevertheless, in English-speaking countries, the word salsa usually refers to a mixture of raw or cooked chopped vegetables, herbs, and, occasionally, fruits.

Salsas are easily improvised. Select a suitable mixture of vegetables,fruits, or both, and chop coarsely or finely, as desired. Mix with appropriate chopped fresh herbs and season to taste. Salt draws juices out of the ingredients to provide moisture for the mixture. Add citrus juice or vinegar if the mixture is lacking in acidity. Acidity should balance any sweetness from fruits because salsas are usually intended for savory dishes, not desserts.

The words relish and chutney have no exact definitions. One meaning of relish is any raw or pickled vegetable used as an appetizer (see p. 760). For example, a dish of celery sticks, carrot sticks, and olives is sometimes called a relish dish, for many years a traditional appetizer in steakhouses and other restaurants. As used in a discussion of sauces, a relish is a mixture of chopped vegetables (and sometimes fruits),at least one of which has been pickled in vinegar or a salt solution. By this definition, a salsa may be considered to be a type of relish, especially if it contains an acid such as vinegar or citrus juice.

The word chutney originated in India, where it refers to several types of spicy condiments or relishes, including strongly spiced sweet-and-sour cooked fruit or vegetable mixtures, as well as raw or partially cooked mixtures of chopped herbs or vegetables, also spicy and often containing chiles. Almost all chutneys contain an acid in-gredient.Western cooks have been especially inspired by the sweet-and-sour types of chutney, so when the word chutney appears on a menu, it usually refers to a cooked fruit or vegetable condiment that is sweet, spicy, and tangy.

Several examples of salsas, relishes, and chutneys are included in this chapter.

Asian Sauces

Sauces from many Asian cuisines,including Japanese,Thai,Vietnamese,and Indian,have entered the Western cook's repertoire in recent years. Asia is, of course, a huge continent, and it would take years of study to become familiar with all its varied cooking tradi-tions.This chapter can only begin that familiarization process by providing a selection of popular recipes with sidebars containing background information on ingredients and techniques.

Incidentally,Chinese cuisines have relatively few standalone sauces. Sauces in stir-fried dishes, for example, are made as part of the cooking process by adding liquids and thickeners to the meat and vegetables as they cook. Ready-made condiments such as oyster sauce and hoisin sauce are also used.

When adopting Asian-style sauces into Western cuisine, cooks should have some familiarity with the regional cuisine they are borrowing from and how the sauces are used in that cuisine. Unless the cook is careful, mixing Asian-style sauces with Western dishes can have strange results.

Flavored Oils

Flavored oils make a light,interesting alternative to vinaigrettes and other sauces when used to dress a wide variety of dishes.They are especially suitable for simple steamed, sauteed, or grilled items, but they can be used with cold foods as well.When used as a sauce, the oil is usually drizzled around or, sometimes, over the item on the plate. A tablespoon (15 mL) or so per portion is often enough.

The simplest way to flavor an oil is simply to put some of the flavoring ingredient in the oil and let it stand until the oil has taken on enough of the flavor. For most flavorings, however, this is not the best way to extract the most flavor. The flavoring ingredient may need some kind of preparation before adding it to the oil. For example,dry spices develop more flavor if they are first heated gently with a little bit of the oil.

Refrigerating flavored oils is recommended. As you will recall from Chapter 2,bot-ulism is caused by a kind of bacteria that grows in the absence of air. Because oil prevents air from reaching the flavoring ingredients, if any botulism bacteria are present in the flavorings (especially possible with fresh, raw roots), those bacteria could grow while covered with oil if not refrigerated.

The following procedure outlines the basic method for making flavored oils, depending on the type of ingredients. Unless otherwise indicated,use a mild or flavorless oil, such as safflower, canola, corn, or grapeseed. In some cases, as with garlic, the flavoring goes well with olive oil, but usually the goal is to have the pure taste of the flavoring ingredient unmasked by the flavor of the oil.

Procedure for Making Flavored Oils


Prepare the flavoring ingredient in one of the following ways:

Chop fresh roots (such as horseradish, garlic, shallots, ginger, garlic) or strong herbs (fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano) by hand or in a food processor.

Grate citrus zests.

Blanch tender herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, chervil, cilantro) in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water. Dry well.

Gently heat dried, ground spices (cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, ginger, mustard, paprika) in a small amount of oil just until they start to give

off an aroma.


Place the flavoring ingredient in a jar or other closable container. Add oil.


Close the jar and shake it well. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate.


The oil is ready to use as soon as it has taken on the desired flavor, which may be as soon as one hour, depending on the ingredient. After two days,

strain the oil through a chinois lined with a paper coffee filter. Store in the refrigerator.

Mushroom Jus

S lb 2 gal



1.5 kg Mushrooms, cleaned, coarsely chopped 8 L Water

1. Place the mushrooms and the first quantity of water in a stockpot.

2. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Add the second quantity of water and repeat the reduction process.

2 gal


4. Add the third quantity of water. Reduce by three-quarters.

5. Strain through a china cap lined with cheesecloth, pressing on the mushrooms

to extract as much liquid as possible. To use or to finish as a sauce, see Variations.


Per 1 ounce:

Calories, 5; Protein, 1 g; Fat, 0 g (0% cal.); Cholesterol, 0 mg; Carbohydrates, 1 g; Fiber, 0 g; Sodium, 0 mg.

The jus can be used as is, seasoned with salt and pepper. A small amount of arrowroot or other starch may be used to bind the sauce lightly. Alternatively, finish by enriching with cream (see p. 186 for information on cream reductions) or butter (see p. 179). The jus can also be added as a flavoring ingredient to meat or poultry broths and to demi-glace, and it can be used as a deglazing liquid.

Bell Pepper Coulis

Yield: 2Vi pt (1.25 L)




■ Procedure

4 lb 2 fl oz 2 oz 4 floz

2 kg 60 mL 60 g 125 mL

Red or yellow bell peppers Olive oil

Shallots, chopped Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

1. Split the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the cores, seeds, and membranes. Chop the peppers coarsely.

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepot over low heat.

3. Add the shallots and peppers. Cover and sweat over low heat until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

4. Add the stock or water. Simmer 2-3 minutes.

5. Purée the vegetables and liquid in a blender, then pass through a strainer.

1-4 fl oz to taste to taste

30-125 mL to taste to taste

Additional stock or water Salt

White pepper

6. Adjust the texture by adding water or stock to thin it.

7. Add salt and white pepper to taste.


Per 1 ounce:

Calories, 25; Protein, 0 g; Fat, 1.5 g (53% cal.); Cholesterol, 0 mg; Carbohydrates, 3 g; Fiber, 1 g; Sodium, 0 mg.

Bell Pepper and Tomato Coulis.

Combine bell pepper coulis with an equal volume of tomato purée.

Jj Sweet Corn and Chile Purée

Yield: approximately 1 pt (500 mL)

1 floz 4 oz

1 lb

4 oz to taste



30 mL Vegetable oil

125 g Onion, chopped fine

2 Garlic cloves, chopped fine 2 Serrano chiles, seeded and chopped 500 g Sweet corn, fresh or frozen 125 g Water to taste Salt

Per 1 ounce:

Calories 50; Protein, 1 g; Fat, 2 g (36% cal.); Cholesterol, 0 mg; Carbohydrates, 7 g; Fiber, 1 g; Sodium, 5 mg.


2. Add the onion, garlic, and chiles. Sauté over moderate heat until the onion is soft but not brown.

3. Add the corn. Cook, stirring a few times, until the corn is hot.

4. Add the water. Simmer about 3 minutes.

5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until the mixture is fairly smooth.

6. Adjust the texture as necessary by adding additional water or by returning to the pan and reducing slightly. The desired texture may vary, depending on the sauce's use. For the smoothest texture, pass the sauce through a food mill. This reduces the yield to about 13-14 floz (405-435 mL).

7. Add salt to taste.

White Bean Purée

Yield: M pt (750 mL)




1 lb

500 g

Cooked white beans,

such as navy or cannellini



Garlic cloves, mashed to a paste

4 tsp

20 mL

Tomato paste

1 floz

30 mL

Lemon juice

4 tsp

20 mL


î/2 tsp, or to taste

2 mL


4 floz

125 mL


4 floz 125 mL Olive oil to taste to taste Salt

2. With the processor running, pour in the olive oil in a thin stream.

3. The resulting purée should have the consistency of a moderately thickened sauce. If it is too thick, mix in a little more water.

4. Season to taste with salt.

Continue reading here: W Chipotle Cream Sauce

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