Some mystery becomes the proud,
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
– Choose something Like a Star,
–Robert Frost, 1947
Sauces in modern cookery are perhaps as great a mystery to most aficionados and professionals alike as was Frost’s star in the partial citation of his work above. The sheer number and nuance of sauces appearing in recipes found in the vast hard-copy and internet-based cooking literature is both astounding and confounding. All these serve the same purpose, namely, to enhance the food that they accompany. I found that I needed a list that I could refer to when foraging for a recipe with sauce components that would help me understand what it was going to be like, and when creating a dish, would help me not reinvent one already known.
By way of a reminder, there are five or six classic “mother” sauces, from which most of the others descend:
White sauce (milk based)
Velouté (light stock based)
Espagnole (rich brown stock based)
Hollandaise (cooked, egg-thickened)
Mayonnaise (cold, egg-oil-vinegar emulsion)
Vinaigrette (oil-vinegar unemulsified)
Additionally, there are sauces that defy categorization, such as cheese sauces, tomato sauces, curry sauces, barbecue sauces, and a myriad that line supermarket shelves.
Here you find a short description of the more well known sauces of the classic cuisine. It is included merely to jog the memory, to remind us of what a particular sauce contains. The citation is not meant to serve as a recipe; for that you will need to look up the more definitive composition and method of preparation, most rapidly accessed by internet. I consult this list when reading other recipes or creating my own to decide whether a sauce component fits with my palatial whims of the moment.
It started with material I found on the Sauces Hub Pages,* which was significantly edited, emended, and expanded using other material available over the internet and the references cited at the end of these pages†. Many of these classic versions contain high caloric and glucose indexes, and are thus corrected using my dietary guidelines when used in recipes appearing here.
Adobo: in Mexican and South\-west\-ern cui\-sines, typically made with chile peppers, garlic, and vinegar, although tomatoes, onions, and a variety of herbs and spices often complete the recipe. Not to be confused with the Filipino dish of the same name.
Albert: butter sauce with horseradish, mustard, vinegar, and sugar.
Albufera: supreme sauce with meat glaze and pimiento butter.
Allemande: velouté, chicken stock, and lemon juice, reduced and thickened with egg liaison; optionally made with white wine.
Alfredo: originally just pasta tossed with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and butter; now more often a butter white sauce with grated Parmesan cheese.
Arch Duke: supreme sauce with burnt champagne.
Anchovy: béchamel made using fish stock, anchovy paste, and cayenne.
Aurore: Allemande with tomato purée and extra butter.
Béarnaise: Hollandaise with a shallot-tarra\-gon-vinegar reduction.
Béchamel: white roux, milk and meat stock, white pepper, and sautéed onion, strained.
Berchoux: usually with poultry, allemande sauce with cream and compound herb butter.
Bercy: sautéd shallots, white wine, fish fumet or demi-glace and beef marrow, reduced, and then combined with velouté, parsley, and butter.
Beurre blanc: white wine, vinegar, shallot, reduced and emulsified with butter, sometimes with added cream to stabilize.
Bigarade: bigarde orange juice and zest, game or duck Espagnole sauce, butter, reduced and perhaps thickened.
Bonne femme: egg yolks, fish stock, heavy cream, and butter, emulsified.
• Latin America: black beans, chicken stock, bacon, onions, garlic, chili pepper, cumin, tomatoes, lemon juice, and wine vinegar, puréed.
• Asian: fermented black beans, garlic, sugar, water, soy sauce, and onion, thickened with cornstarch.
Bordelaise: shallots, thyme, bay leaf, Bordeaux, demi-glace, and beef marrow, reduced and strained.
Bonnefoy: same as Bordelaise, but using white wine, chicken or fish velouté, butter and fresh tarragon.
Bretonne: julienne of leeks, celery, onions, mushrooms, and fish velouté.
Butter sauce: white roux, water, butter.
Café de Paris: chicken livers, fresh thyme, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, butter, water, salt and pepper, blended until smooth.
Caper: béchamel, chopped capers; often augmented with garlic, lemon juice and zest, butter, and parsley; sometimes also augmented using onion, white wine, Dijon mustard, Mayonnaise, and/or horseraddish, among other condiments.
Cardinal: fish béchamel, anchovy, minced and cubed lobster, pinch of cayenne, sometimes with added minced truffles.
Charcuterie: Robert sauce with julienne of cornichons (gherkins).
Chateau: marchand de vin sauce with tarragon or parsley, reduced.
Champagne: butter, shallots, mirepoix, cham\-pagne, and heavy cream, reduced and strained.
Chasseur: demi-glace or Espagnole, mushroom, shallots, white wine, tomato sauce and fines herbes.
Chateaubriand: demi-glace, shallots, thyme, bay leaves, mushrooms, and white wine, reduced and strained, then tarragon added.
Cheese: white sauce and cheese that incorporates as it melts, often augmented with any number of condiments, such as onion, garlic, mustard, low-sodium Worcestershire, wine or beer, herbs, spices, and cayenne.
Choron: Béarnaise with tomato purée.
Chaud-froid: white velouté sauce, cream, and very thick jellied aspic, strained and seasoned, frequently with tarragon, applied in one smooth layer to already cooked food and then chilled. There are at least 21 variations of this, however.
Colbert: Hollandaise, demi-glace or Espagnole, garlic, velouté, sherry, tomato purée, and tarragon, strained.
Coulis: thick sauce made entirely, or in part, from puréed fruits or vegetables.
Creole: holy trinity, garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaf, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cay\-enne, strained.
Cucumber: puréed cucumber and garlic, olive oil, vinegar, yogurt, sour cream, dill, and lemon.
Curry: any of a number of Indian spicy flavorings, usually containing a combination of of spices, such as coriander, cumin, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, and varying amounts of a piquant pepper.
Cumberland: red currant jelly, orange juice, port wine, mustard, ginger, corn starch, and orange zest.
Demi-glace: beef or chicken stock, Espagnole or meat glaze, reduced one half.
Diable: butter, shallots, flour, white wine, beef bouillon or stock, and maybe a pinch of cayenne.
Dianne: butter, shallots, chives, parsley, low-sodium Worcestershire, and (beef steak) pan drippings or demi-glace.
Diavolo: marinara with crushed red pepper, and perhaps extra olive oil.
Diplomate: Normande sauce, cream, brandy, lobster butter, and truffles.
Dijon: Hollandaise and Dijon mustard.
Duxelles: minced mushrooms, onion, shallots, and garlic, sautéd in butter; then add white wine, chicken stock, tomato paste, nutmeg, and parsley, and reduce; add flour to thicken.
Egg sauce: béchamel or velouté, chopped egg, and parsley.
Empress: chicken velouté, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger, blended until smooth.
Espagnole: mirepoix, red wine, beef stock, roux, bay leaf, tomato purée, bouquet garni, strained.
Estragon: white wine, tarragon, and demi-glace, reduced, and chopped fresh tarragon.
Financière: Madeira sauce with truffle ess\-ence, chopped mushrooms and minced ham.
Fines herbes: butter, shallot, white wine, veal demi-glace, reduced, with added fresh chervil, tarragon, chives, and parsley.
Foyot: Béarnaise with meat glaze.
Fra Diavolo: same as Diavolo sauce.
Glace de viande: same as meat glaze.
Grand veneur: poivrade sauce made from the meat marinade, red currant jelly, heavy cream, sometimes mirepoix, reduced, sometimes with added chopped scallions and parsley.
Green peppercorn: Espagnole with brandy, shallots, cream, and thyme, reduced and strained, finished with green peppercorns.
Hollandaise: emulsion of egg yolks and butter with lemon and pepper.
Holy trinity: onions, bell peppers and celery, the base for many dishes in Louisiana, cajun, and creole cuisine.
Horseradish: prepared horseradish, sour cream, and chopped chives, sometimes with Mayonnaise and/or Dijon mustard.
Hot sauce: there are hundreds of commercial varieties made by fermenting hot peppers with vinegar and salt. Perhaps the most popular is Tabasco®, which is aged 3 years in wooden barrels.
Hungarian: paprika, chicken or veal velouté, onion, white wine, and butter.
Hunter: see chasseur sauce.
Henry IV: essentially the same as Foyot sauce.
Indienne (Indian): velouté made with sautéd minced onion, celery, and celery root, curry powder, thyme, heavy cream, and lemon juice.
Joineville: (shellfish) Normande, lobster butter, or shrimp butter.
Jus lie: thickened (with cornstarch) stock or broth used as a base for other sauces.
Liaison: French for “thickener”; the ways of thickening a sauce are many: examples are starch (wheat flour, cornstarch, rice flour, potato starch, and arrowroot), mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream, and blood.
Lemon: a sweet or savory sauce made from lemon juice,possibly its zest, and quite often thickened and flavored with herbs, spices, and wine.
Lobster: fish stock velouté with white wine and reduced, with added lobster butter or anchovy paste, minced lobster, butter, and cayenne.
Lyonnaise: a finished sauce made with onions and white wine vinegar simmered in a basic demi-glace. Pairs well with roasted meats, grilled pork and poultry dishes
Madeira: shallots sautéd, added to Madeira wine, Espagnole, and demi-glace, then strained.
Maltaise: Hollandaise, blood orange juice or orange juice concentrate, and orange zest; should slightly pink.
Marchand du vin: butter, shallots, red wine, ground black pepper, and demi-glace.
Marinara: crushed tomatoes, olive oil, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and sometimes finely chopped celery and carrots,.
Marinière: Bercy made with clam or mussel juice, egg liaison, butter, and parsley.
Marsala: garlic and mushrooms sautéd and added to marsala wine, Espagnole or velouté.
Meat glaze, or demi-glace: meat stock or juices that have been boiled down to a syrupy consistency and used to boost the flavor sauces and soups; commercial beef extract is an acceptable substitute.
Meunière: in the manner of a miller’s wife; both a sauce and a method of preparation, primarily for fish; to cook by first dredging in flour and sautéing in brown butter, chopped parsley, and lemon juice in a rustic manner.
Molé: there are many sauces that bear this title, but it usually refers to molé Poblano, often called the national sauce of Mexico. Contains many ingredients, including various chilies and chocolate, among others.
Mirepoix: the basis for many sauces, it consists of onion, celery, carrots, and fine herbs.
Mornay: béchamel with extra meat stock and liaison, reduced, with grated Parmesan and Swiss (Gruyère) cheeses incorporated.
Mousseline: Hollandaise with whipped cream folded in just before serving.
Marguery: a combination of Holladaise, Nantua, chablis, shrimp, crab, and mushrooms.
Mushroom: Espagnole and burgundy added to mushrooms.
Nantua: béchamel, fish stock, minced lobster, shrimp, and/or crayfish, with a pinch of cayenne, reduced; liaison is then added and thickened; butter is then whipped in; sherry may also be added at this point.
Newburg: (see Nantua).
Normande: fish velouté with chicken and fish stock, minced mushrooms, reduced and strained;, and added egg liaison, butter, and a pinch of cayenne.
Nilanaise: red sauce with ham, tongue, mushroom, and truffle, commonly served over pasta.
Onion sauce: béchamel with sautéed onion and bay leaf.
Pan gravy: the seasoned but not thickened juices that drip from cooking meats; often a little water is added.
Paprikash: onions, mushrooms and paprika added to velouté and sour cream.
Piquant: any of many concoctions usually containing tomatoes, garlic, chile pepper, herbs and spices, and wine. Sometimes with mustard, pickles, and onions.
Perigourdine: Madeira with truffles.
Pesto: olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan cheese, puréed.
Pico de gallo: a piquant Spanish condiment containing chopped fresh ingredients, including tomato, onion, and sometimes chile and fruit.
Poivrade: Espagnole with game trimmings, marinade from game, vinegar, red wine, and pepper; reduced and strained, with added peppercorns.
Provençale: fresh tomatoes, garlic, and onions, sautéed.
Portugaise: scallions, garlic, and diced tomatoes added to Espagnole.
Poulette: Allemande,white wine, mushrooms, onion, and lemon, reduced and then thickened with starch liason; with chopped parsley added.
Raisin: water, raisins, vinegar, and brown sugar, thickened with corn starch.
• hot: white wine, vinegar, and tarragon, chervil, chives, and scallions, reduced; added veal velouté then finished with heavy cream, butter, and a pinch of cayenne.
• cold: vinaigrette mixed with chopped capers and fines herbes.
• French: Mayonnaise, fines herbs, capers, hard cooked eggs.
Robert: Espagnole with white wine, dry mustard, and lemon juice or vinegar.
Salsa: any Mexican or Central American piquant condiment (usually a dip) usually containing tomatoes, chile, onion, garlic, and cilantro.
Shrimp: any of a variety of sauces made from or for shrimp. Those for shrimp include Japanese Shrimp Sauce, made from Mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce, and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, made from tomato sauce, lemon juice, horse radish, and red pepper.
Smitane: sautéd onions and white wine, reduced, strained, and added to sour cream.
• Spanish: garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked slowly in olive oil.
• Italian: mirepoix, add garlic, maybe fennel.
Soubise: onions puréed in chicken or beef stock, reduced; add Béarnaise, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spanish sauce: (different from Espagnole sauce) onion, garlic, celery, tomato, thyme, black olives.
Spicy honey sauce: a syrup made of 1/3 honey and 2/3 maple syrup, with cinnamon, allspice, and caraway, simmered once.
Supreme: chicken broth and minced mushrooms, reduced and strained; added to poultry velouté and heavy cream.
Sweet and sour: equal parts vinegar and sugar, with water and ketchup, thickened with corn starch.
Tallyrand: chicken velouté, chicken broth, reduced; added heavy cream, Madeira wine, butter, minced truffles, minced tongue, butter-sautéed onion, celery, and carrot; finished with thyme.
White: roux, milk or cream, salt, and pepper.
Wine merchant: see marchand du vin.
Velouté: roux, white stock (chicken, veal, or fish); minced mushrooms optional.