Creating a sauce from scratch may seem intimidating but they typically take a few simple ingredients and can make a big difference to the taste of your dish. Sauces can completely change a dish as they add a lot of flavour and moisture. They can be sweet or savoury and can be served warm or cold.
There are 5 basic sauces which can be further used to make other sauces. The 5 basic sauces include hollandaise sauce, tomato sauce, espagnole, velouté and béchamel sauce. 4 of the 5 sauces start with a roux, which is a mixture of flour and a fat. The five basic sauces are as follows:
Hollandaise: A warm sauce made with egg yolks, butter and an acid (such as lemon juice). It is usually seasoned with peppercorns.
Tomato sauce: Made with a roux plus tomatoes but can be done without the roux. This sauce can be more time consuming as it needs to simmer for a couple of hours.
Espagnole: Also known as brown sauce. It is made with a roux plus brown stock (usually veal or beef stock).
Velouté: Made with a roux plus white stock (usually chicken or vegetable stock).
Béchamel: made with a roux plus dairy. This is the simplest out of all the sauces. It is made by thickening hot milk with a simple white roux. Béchamel sauce can then be made into a cheese sauce by simply adding cheese. Try out the béchamel cheese sauce recipe below!
Béchamel Cheese Sauce & Broccoli
Serves: 8 x 2 oz servings
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ onion, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup cheddar cheese
1 tsp cayenne pepper
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
In a second heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Stir the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon. It should turn into a pale yellow colour paste called a roux. Make sure it is not too hot. Stir until all the flour is incorporated into the mixture.
Using a wire whisk, slowly add the warm milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it is free of lumps.
Simmer until the total volume has reduced, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn. If it is too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Season the sauce very lightly with salt and pepper.
If using immediately as a cheese sauce, see steps below. If using later: Remove the sauce from the heat. Cover with wax paper until you are ready to use it.
If turning into a cheese sauce, follow the next few steps:
While the béchamel sauce is simmering, add in the cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted.
Remove from the heat and use immediately.