Eggs Benedict, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken teriyaki, nachos: What do these popular restaurant menu items all have in common? Sauce. You can’t make any of these recipes without some kind of sauce.
From dips to drizzles, sauces today are every bit as important as they were in the days of Auguste Escoffier, who codified the five “mother sauces” (bechamel, Hollandaise, veloute, Espagnole and tomato) of the classical French kitchen. Today, though, they’re a lot more versatile, more globally influenced and easier to produce.
According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, boldly flavored ethnic sauces and condiments such as chipotle barbecue sauce, gochujang and romesco (a classic Spanish sauce of tomato, red bell pepper and ground almonds seasoned with vinegar and paprika) are among the fastest-growing sauces on menus right now. Together with more traditional sauces, such as brown butter, pesto, aioli, queso and marinara, sauces cover a lot of menu ground.
That’s why it’s important to have a repertoire of basic, hardworking prepared sauces that can be executed efficiently and used in a variety of menu items with the addition of a few extra ingredients.
Beurre blanc or hollandaise, for instance, can be varied with saffron, a red wine reduction or fresh herbs. Barbecue sauce can be customized with different chiles; hoisin sauce, soy and honey; or coffee and ginger. And ready-made marinara sauce can be turned into mellow Asiago cream sauce by adding Asiago cheese and heavy cream); zingy puttanesca with olives, capers, garlic and anchovies; or spicy arrabbiata with crushed red pepper.
- Pulled Pork Sandwich:Maple Barbecue Sauce – Big Moose Deli, Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
- Mixed Grill: Grilled half lobster tail, shrimp skewer, grilled salmon, yuzu beurre blanc—Catch 35, Chicago
- Spicy Ricotta Meatballs: Housemade beef, veal, pork and ricotta meatballs, caramelized onions, red chile, arrabbiata sauce, whipped ricotta—Macaroni Grill, all locations
- Rock Shrimp Tacos: Miso aioli, sweet Thai chili glaze, cabbage, pineapple, sesame salsa—Boneyard Bistro, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
This post is sponsored by Red Gold