Nothing gives you more confidence as a cook than knowing how to make a great sauce.
December 18, 2008
1 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Jan Gautro
A béchamel sauce, or white sauce, is one of the foundations of creative cooking. It's traditionally made by stirring milk or cream into a butter-flour mixture called a roux. It can be used alone as a topping for vegetables, or as the creamy component in soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes. Here, a light white sauce is used as the creamy base for lasagna.
A Mornay sauce is a variation of a basic white sauce and can be made with a variety of cheeses. Because it's a fairly mild sauce, it typically served with eggs, fish, shellfish, vegetables and chicken. Here, it's featured in the classic French dish Croque-Madame, a toasted ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg and the creamy sauce.
A Béarnaise sauce is a classic French sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, wine, tarragon, and shallots, and finished with egg yolks and butter. It's usually served with meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables. We feature it here with grilled sirloin and potato cakes.
There are a number of different definitions of a marinara sauce, but it's typically some kind of tomato sauce, either from fresh or canned tomatoes. It's a versatile sauce, but you'll often see it spooned over pasta.
A gravy is simple a sauce made with the juices or drippings of meat and poultry. The juices are usually combined with broth, wine, or milk and thickened with some type of flour or cornstarch. See our how-video for tips on making gravy.
You can make a mushroom sauce with a variety of mushrooms and get a hearty, almost "meat-like" flavor. This mushroom sauce with port is reminiscent of the classic bordelaise sauce, a French sauce made with wine, brown stock, and bone marrow, but made in a fraction of the time.
8 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr
Custard sauce is also known as stirred custard, boiled custard, and crème anglaise (English cream). It's traditionally used for Bavarian creams and ice creams and for spooning over fruits and desserts and is a classic dessert sauce.