The word "sauce" is a French word taken from the Latin salsus (salted) and refers to a condiment or relish used to enhance dishes. Sauces introduce complementary flavors, add moisture, visual interest, and adjust texture.
Mother Sauces—also called Grand Sauces—are the five “foundation” sauces from which most sauces are made. They include the following:
Béchamel Sauce (white) is made by thickening scalded milk with a white roux. It is often used for vegetable, egg and gratin dishes. Well-known cheddar cheese sauce is a béchamel sauce.
Hollandaise Sauce (butter) is an emulsified sauce made by thickening butter with egg yolk and lemon juice.
Velouté Sauce (blond) is made from any white stock—fish, chicken, or veal.
Espagnole Sauce (brown) is full-bodied and rich because it is made from brown stock. There are many familiar sauces in this family, such as bordelaise, port, and mushroom.
Tomato Sauce (red) is made from tomatoes, vegetables, seasonings and white stock. This is one sauce that is available ready-to-use.
Beurre Blanc is a butter sauce made from shallots, white or red wine and butter.
Pan Gravy is made directly in the pan used to roast or cook the poultry, beef, lamb or pork. It uses the drippings in the pan, as well as stock or broth and a thickener.
Compound Butter is made by combining various herbs and seasonings with softened butter then roll it into a cylinder. The rich flavor is distributed as the butter melts.
Coulis is a sauce made from a purée of vegetables or fruit.
Salsa, Spanish for “sauce”, is a mixture of chopped vegetables and/or fruits with herbs and seasonings.
Once you learn the techniques for making a few simple finishing sauces, you will gain the confidence to make them easily and improvise with the ingredients that you have on hand.