. A Sauce is most accurately describes as a flavoured liquid, which in
essence is a base that has been thickened.
Thickenings used for sauces vary greatly, depending on the base
Modern sauces are lightened by using less fat to take into account
society’s healthier lifestyle. However, cream, just and butter are still
used to complement many dishes
A sauce performs an important role in a dish; it complements, enhances
and creates an attractive finish to the dish. The sauces appearance
should be glassy and its consistency correct, it should have a defined
flavour but never overpower the main ingredient of the dish. The
potential of a sauce to highlight a dish is often overlooked and the
seasoning will preform a pivotal role; a bland sauce will ruin a perfectly
Straining and passing
Whisking and blending
Deglazing is a process of allowing the caramelised
pan or tray juices and sediment to be released into
added liquid, which may be water, stock, wine or
other liquid-based commodities.
Any excess fat is drained off first, then the liquid is
added while stirring vigorously over a hot stove.
The liquid is reduced and a good jus or stock
added. A small amount of butter can be added to
finish the sauce. The liquid is then passed through
muslin cloth and a fine chinois to create a smooth
This process is one of the most important a
chef master. A well skimmed sauce or stock
will have clarity and clear flavour, which will
be ruined if left unattended. The use of a
perforated spoon or small ladle to remove
the scum and foam that develops at the
surface of a cooking liquid will prevent the
stock or sauce from becoming cloudy and
Forcing a liquid or puree through a drum sieve,
conical strainer, chinois or muslin cloth with
ensure the finished sauce is smooth and
emulsified,. The use of muslin cloth when
passing a jus is essential to remove excess
sediment (this process is generally repeated at
least twice to ensure a crystal-clear finish)
By reducing a liquid over a fierce heat a more
intensified flavour is achieved. However, the
volume of liquid reduced, which must be
taken into account when preparing a dish and
for portion control. Over reducing a liquid can
result in the appearance of a bitter flavour.
These processes rely on rapid movement to emulsify products
such as creams, eggs and purees, giving them a light, smooth
and delicate flavour and appearance. This is caused by
increasing aeration within the sauce
Egg-yolk based emulsification sauces, such as hollandaise
sauce, requires the eggs to be beaten oven a bain-marie,
which cooks the egg yolks but prevents them from curdling.
The vigorous whisking during the cooking process increases
the volume of the sauce.
The modern kitchen has produced a wide range of
variations to the old classical methods of roux based
sauces. Nowadays crème fraiche, fromage frais and
yogurt are used as alternatives to cream, egg yolks
and butter making today's sauces lighter, less fatty
with less rich textures.
Many modern chefs will use a reduced purée of
vegetable or fruit base preparation as the sauce
without any thickening agent.
It is worth noting that very small amounts of a starch
can be added to act as a stabilizer.
Many sauces are ‘enriched’ with the addition
of cream. Most sauces will have been made
in the traditional way before the cream is
added, therefore their thickening agent will
already be present.
Some dishes will have their cooking liquid
reduced to concentrate the flavour and
consistency and then the cream is added. It
is then necessary to cook and reduce again
to thicken the sauce.
Only a good quality double cream is
suitable for this method of sauce making
as single and whipping cream do not have
the viscosity to ensure a suitably thickened
It is worth noting that when cooked for any
length of time thin cream or one with
insufficient butter fat content, will result in
the protein overcooked and shrunk, giving
it a curdled appearance.
It is also important to note that many chefs
prefer not to over use cream in their dishes
as many customers today prefer the lighter
less rich sauces.
This type of sauce is the process of cooking
down the main ingredient until it is soft
enough to be puréed in a blender (or similar).
The concentration is achieved by the
evaporation of the water content until the
desired thickness occurs. Sometimes a starch
can be added in the form of cornflour or
Many different sauces develop from this
basic technique. In classical cookery a
reduction sauce was based on the addition of
wine, vinegar or a quality stock added to a
pan in which meat, poultry, game or fish had
The item is removed, the fat tipped off and
the wine, vinegar or stock added. The liquid
is reduced and concentrated before other
ingredients are added. A spirit like brandy
can be added and ‘ignited’ that is to ‘flambé’
Other ingredients added could be a white
or brown sauce, garnish, cream, herbs etc.
This is only a brief explanation of a very
extensive and varied selection of sauces
and it is not within the requirements of
this unit to identify them all.
The term ‘reduction sauce’ can include
sauces whose base starts with the main
ingredient or ‘body’ of the sauce being
concentrated by simmering away the water
content in order to concentrate the flavour
and thicken the sauce.
The combining of egg yolks and melted
butter to form an emulsified sauce, is known
as a hollandaise sauce. The attention to
correct preparation and production methods
is vital to make this sauce.
Awareness of good hygiene, use of fresh
eggs, the temperature of the egg yolks and
butter and the fact that the sauce must be
made just prior to service, requires a sound
level of knowledge and skill.
Is also classed as
a ‘warm sauce’.
the ‘holding’ of
the sauce is 37°C
or blood heat.
The traditional stock pot has been the
foundation of many kitchen preparations for
many, many years. The cooking of
meat/bones, vegetables and herbs in a pot
with water has long been a basic method of
cookery to produce an aromatic cooking
liquor to be used as the basis to other dishes.
The classical kitchen has worked with the making
of these stocks – beef, veal, poultry, game and
fish as the first step in ensuring the quality of a
Nowadays due to a greater awareness of
food hygiene, strict kitchen procedures,
economy of time, and food cost, the stock
pot has lost its role as an essential
Convenience stocks have taken over and fulfil
a necessary requirement. However, there is
no substitute for the freshly made stock and
where factors allow, a fresh stock will always
assist in producing a dish of an excellent,
A Stock is generally regarded as the base for
many sauces and is an extremely important
The dictionary describes gravy as.
Explained in French as a ‘Jus’. Likewise Jus is
explained as juice, gravy.
‘the juice that comes from the flesh when
The traditional English understanding of a gravy
is a sauce-like preparation which has gained its
texture by being thickened with a gravy powder
out of a tin.
In good kitchens, the liquid left after roasting
beef, poultry, veal and game etc, has the grease
removed, is then boiled down to a concentrate
and offered as the Jus-rôti (juice from the roast)
as the accompaniment to the joint.
Jus-lie is a stock made up from veal
bones/chicken, bacon pieces, vegetables and
herbs, fresh stock and tomato purée. This is
cooked for 1-2 hours before being thickened.
Hence Jus-lie – Juice thickened.
The process of making a glaze will normally be found
in only the most professional of kitchens. Good
quality stock, one with a definite taste, free from
grease and clear, is suitable.
Constant simmering, reducing and straining the stock
down to a sticky glutinous mass takes time and an
ever watchful eye, especially over the last stages. The
original quantity of stock, that is 12-15 litres will
become no more than ½ litre and it is very easy to
spoil by reducing too fast and burning.
The time taken can be several hours and the
consumption of gas or electricity can make this
Sometimes this reduction can be left at the
stage of a concentrated stock called an
essence, which is much thinner than a glaze
and cannot be used in quite the same way.
Essences can be purchased in bottles from
good quality stockists (mushroom, truffle,
A finished glaze resembles a dark sticky mass
and is very strong in flavour. It must be used
in very small amounts and added to sauces to
strengthen the flavour, to darken the colour
slightly, and help to give a shine.
Vinaigrette or French dressing as it is
sometimes referred to, is made by mixing
together oil and vinegar, with seasoning, to
produce a sharp flavoured preparation used
on a variety of salads.
A basic vinaigrette is made using a good
quality oil – groundnut, or a mixture of olive
oil and groundnut, with white wine vinegar.
Due to the wide range of oils available and an
even greater choice of vinegars you can
produce a dressing to suit every and any
combination of salads.
Mustard can be added to a vinaigrette to add
further flavour and to help in stabilising the
Vinegar (sharply flavoured water) and oil will
not mix as oil is less dense than water and
will float on the water. Next time you look at a
bottle of vinaigrette (not commercial but
kitchen made) you will see that the oil has
separated out and is on top of the vinegar.
When mustard is added it helps the oil and
water mix together and stay together longer.
The separating out effect has no ill effect on
the flavour or quality of the vinaigrette. It is
important though to shake the vinaigrette well
to remix the ingredients just before using.
In classical cookery in particular, fruit based
salads were bound with acidulated cream –
cream mixed with fresh lemon juice. The
lemon juice has the effect of denaturing the
protein of the cream. In simple terms the
protein was changed so that it became thick.
The use of sour cream or crème fraîche is an
alternative to acidulated cream. Each one of
the creams mentioned offers a different
flavour and acidity to the finished salad.
With the change in eating habits, sour cream
or similar ingredients have been substituted
where mayonnaise was once the binding
agent. A well known salad such as coleslaw
can be changed by using sour cream and
adding herbs or spices, such as carraway seed
or poppy seed.
The choice and variations are limitless and in
the hands of a good chef a wide range of
interesting salads can be developed.
Using good quality catering reference books
identify a range of salad preparations using
acidulated cream/sour cream as their binding
The term ‘coulis’ is a well known term used in
good quality kitchens. A thin purée of the
main ingredient, smooth and definite in taste
is used as a sauce around the plate of the
dish to be presented.
This method is very popular in the up-todate presentation of plated dishes because
the coulis is very much part of the taste of
the dish. Its colour and style of presentation
will enhance the appearance of the dish being
Aspic jelly is a savoury jelly used for
decorative purposes in cold work
presentation. It can also be found in pâtés,
terrines and pork pies.
The aspic jelly used in kitchens in past
generations would have been produced from
veal bones, calves feet, shin of beef, to
produce a well flavoured stock with the
natural gelatine of the animal. This in turn
would be clarified to produce a crystal clear
Today, because of the length of time to produce, the
cost and in particular the availability of some of the
ingredients, aspic jelly is even more unlikely to be
produced in a modern kitchen. For example calves
feet are difficult to obtain due to strict slaughter
house regulations as a result of BSE.
It is also worth noting that aspic jelly is high in
protein and very easily exposed to bacterial infection.
Due to the fact that it is only warmed over a gentle
heat before being coated over meat or fish etc, it can
become an excellent medium for food poisoning.
Convenience aspic is the most commonly used
savoury jelly used in kitchens. It is still very
important to remember that this product is high in
protein but Agar Agar is a safer product to use.