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Identifying Basic Sauces for Cooking

You can find all kinds of sauces for food, but sauce serves one purpose: to enhance the dish it's served with. Think of a sauce as a primary liquid and flavored with ingredients and seasonings. For example, your sauce can be based on wine or stock, enhanced with thyme and pepper, and finished with a swirl of butter.

Sauce isn't the same as gravy, which is ususally made from the drippings of roasted meats or vegetables and then thickened.

Here are the basic kinds of sauces:

  • White sauces: Usually contain milk or cream

  • White butter sauces: Based on a reduction of butter, vinegar, and shallots

  • Brown sauces: Based on dark stocks like lamb or beef

  • Vegetable sauces: Made from cooked, puréed vegetables, such as tomatoes

  • Vinaigrettes: Made up of oil, vinegar, and seasonings

  • Hollandaise: Based on cooked egg yolks and butter

  • Mayonnaise: Based on uncooked or slightly cooked egg yolks and oil

  • Dessert sauces: Typically made with fruits or chocolate and sugar, or have a caramel, butterscotch, or nut base

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