Sauce making can be a fearsome thing. So we leave it to chefs or know-it-all food bloggers. My recent cooking class encouraged me to become a bit more saucy in the kitchen. Still, it freaked me out when Chef Fred put a whole bottle of wine in the coq au vin. But he cooked it down by half, leaving the infused essence in the sauce. I also learned that adding a bit of powdered gelatin to a sauce acts like pixie dust, helping to clarify and smooth the final outcome.
But the recipes below are not complex, hold-your-breath, hover-over-the-stove varieties. These quick and easy sauces can be make with few ingredients, most of which you’re likely to have on hand. The outcome will be far more rewarding than opening a packet of dehydrated mix and adding water. All sauces shown below should be salted and peppered to taste.
Brown Butter + Sage
Brown butter and sage are a marriage made in culinary heaven. While your pasta is cooking, heat 4 Tbs. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to turn hazelnut in the thinnest liquid of the butter, about 4 minutes. (Make sure the butter stays brownish in color and doesn’t turn black.)
Stir in 8 thinly-sliced, fresh sage leaves and juice of a half lemon. Pour a bit of water from the drained pasta into the sauce, stir in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and you have a luxurious sauce for chicken, vegetables, mashed potatoes, or fresh pasta, such as this filled ravioli.
Roasted Tomatoes + Garlic
Add another flavor dimension to tomato sauce by roasting the tomatoes and garlic cloves in the oven. Use canned, whole, peeled tomatoes and cook in a 425 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and jammy.
Purée and use in pizza or spaghetti sauce. Or smear on a baguette slice, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with soft cheese.
Meat Drippings + Wine
Don’t throw out those flavorful pan drippings from chicken or pork. Just add ½ cup dry white wine to 2 Tbs. of drippings and cook until it’s reduced to a thickened sauce. If the mixture gets too thick just add water.
Yogurt + Pesto
Combine yogurt with a store-bought pesto for a quick and healthy vegetable dip.
Combine 3 Tbs. mayo with 1 Tbs. Sriracha. A squeeze of lime will add even more zing. Use with fish tacos, chicken fingers, roast pork sandwiches, dip for sweet potato fries, and the base for a chicken salad, as I did in photo.
Whipped Cream + Lemon Curd
Whip cream makes a great topping, but if you want to give it a tangy boost try inserting a few tablespoons of store-bought lemon curd. First, whip the cream. Using a spatula, gently fold whipped cream into small amount of lemon curd. Add more lemon curd to taste. Great topper for pies and fruits. Yogurt can be used in place of whipped cream.
Ketchup + Cider Vinegar
Not technically a sauce, I suppose, but perhaps a topping. Before putting your meat loaf in the oven, spread it with this saucy mixture of ½ cup ketchup, 4 Tbs. brown sugar and 4 tsp. cider vinegar.