White Roux-based Sauces

Smooth and subtly flavored sauces are a cook's best friend. By following a few basic rules you hold the key to a whole repertoire of sauces which will add color and variety to your meals, open up new avenues of cooking and quickly earn for you a reputation as an accomplished cook.

A simple, creamy well-flavored sauce has countless uses in the kitchen. Everyday dishes such as boiled or steamed cod, that sometimes look dull and unappetizing, can be turned into an eye-appealing dish by the simple addition of, say, a colorful parsley sauce - and every cook knows that good presentation of a dish means she is half-way to earning compliments and clean plates from all the family.

White Roux-based and Sweet Sauces savory sauces can be used to complement a wide range of dishes - not only fish, but meat, poultry, egg, vegetable and pasta dishes. It may be part of the dish as in macaroni cheese, used to coat cooked foods such as chicken, or served in a sauce-boat as an accompaniment.

A sauce not only complements a dish but it also increases the food value of a meal by adding milk, eggs, cheese and other nutritious ingredients. It may also form the basis of other dishes - croquettes, for instance, are bound together by a thick white sauce (panada) and, by the simple addition of whisked egg whites, you have a souffl?.

Last but not least, sauces are really an economy. They can make a dish go further, and they are invaluable for reheating old foods that might otherwise languish in the larder and eventually go to waste.

The vast number of different sauces use in the kitchen come from a few basic methods. When you have mastered these, the variations follow quite simply and logically. For this reason these basic sauces are often called sauces meres (mother sauces).

A roux-based sauce is one made by blending flour into melted fat and then adding a liquid. There are three main types of roux-based sauces: white, veloute and brown. The first of these is discussed in this course.

Starch may also be used to thicken sauces which don't contain any fat. Arrowroot or corn-flour are blended to a paste with a little of the liquid to be used and then cooked in the same way as a roux-based sauce. This is not strictly a white sauce because when the liquid is fruit juice it clarifies with cooking to make a clear sauce.

Both white and corn-flour based sauces can be used for sweet and savory dishes. However, a white roux-based sauce is more commonly used for savory sauces.

corn-flour and more especially arrowroot are very suitable for thick: ening fruit sauces because they clarify when cooked, leaving a clear fruity color. However, corn-flour can be used for savory dishes when a more "gluey" consistency is required: an example is the Chinese sweet-and-sour sauce.
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