Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Versatile Sauce

Recently, Men's Health Magazine published a list of 5 sauces that can liven up a meal.  Their list included Big Bold Sauce AKA Steak Sauce, Chimi-Churri Sauce, Brown-Butter Lime Fish Sauce, Mustard Dill Sauce, and Tejano Red Sauce.  You can read the full article, complete with recipes, here.

This is a great article.  I'd add a Béchamel Sauce though, which can be converted into other sauces including Mornay Sauce (cheese), Nantua Sauce (crayfish/shrimp, butter and cream), Crème Sauce (heavy cream), Mustard Sauce (prepared mustard), and Soubise Sauce (finely diced onions sweated in butter).

The trick to a successful conversion is to have a recipe for a base Béchamel Sauce which is as flavor neutral as possible without being completely bland.  The sauce should be creamy and savory without garlicky, spicy, or onion laden undertones which can compete with a particular conversion.  However, if you're adding a straight Béchamel Sauce to pasta, rice, veggies, etc...., I WOULD add some crushed garlic and/or some savory herbs to jazz it up.
Béchamel Sauce
Béchamel Sauce
Title: Béchamel Sauce | Date: 10/02/2011 | Photographer: Saintfevrier | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons flour
    1 1/4 cups milk, heated
    Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

My Cheddar Cheese Sauce Conversion
Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 Tablespoon of dry mustard, and 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce.
Béchamel Sauce is a recipe which should be in the repertoire of every home cook and chef.  Mastery of this basic sauce opens the culinary door to an array of sauces, making dishes such as Macaroni & Cheese, Scalloped Potatoes, Chile con Queso, Chicken Pot Pie, Lobster Mornay Pasta, and Fish Mousseline with Sauce Nantua possible and tasty. 
(Click the name of each sauce in the second paragraph to see its conversion recipe.)
Recipe prints as a single page for your recipe file or refrigerator.


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