A little sauce can get you a long, long way. Whether you’re trying to rescue a culinary disaster, or just to spice up something bland you cooked on a budget, knowing how to throw together half a dozen common ingredients can make all the difference when it comes to keeping the kids happy or impressing a date. Everyone knows that the recipes to the world’s greatest sauces are kept top secret by the descendants of their inventors – but those inventors only stumbled upon the magic by learning the basics and then experimenting. There are a few key spells that anyone who enters a kitchen should have in their repertoire, and where you take it from there depends on your courage, imagination, and the iron stomachs of your regular guests.
These ‘standards’ are achievable – they’ve become standards for a reason – and even if you’re new to the concept of making a sauce (rather than adding hot water to a packet) you’ll find a lot of the names are simple and familiar: BBQ, tomato, Hollandaise… how difficult can it be? The French, for example, base a lot of their cooking on derivations of just five ‘mother sauces’ – Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat and Hollandaise. Béchamel you’ll know from all those lasagnes you’ve been warming through. Make your own from milk, parsley, peppercorns, and a few kitchen staples, and you’ll conjure up that Italian farmhouse feeling that microwave meals just never seem to evoke.
Another great boon of knowing a few sauces is the facility to make a standard issue dinner taste like a trip to exotic climes. Argentinian Chimchurri, for example, is a great way to spice up your regular steak and chips, while if you actually hail from South America you might prefer to exoticise your meat with a splodge of British ‘bread sauce’. Yes, that’s a sauce made from bread – stale bread, in fact.
Starting to get an idea how versatile your cooking can become with a few simple sauce recipes at your fingertips? Be sure to check out this new infographic with instructions on the twelve you need to know. Within a fortnight, your culinary achievements will have blossomed without needing to step too far from the spice rack – and you’ll have the foundations ready to take tasty cooking to the next level.