The importance of sauce cannot be underestimated. A proper sauce or dressing absolutely transforms food from drab and nondescript to glamorous and specific. This goes beyond store bought condiments. It speaks to lemony hollandaise sauce cloaking lightly poached eggs. It refers to deep, winey sauce Bordelaise on the side of juicy roast beef. It is the magic of tarragon flecked sauce béarnaise turning steamed broccoli into a rich, creamy dish.
The secret of sauce is twofold:
you need to make sure that your sauce has depth, which means a balance of all flavors. If your protein is fatty and sweet, you want a tart, slightly salty sauce. If your main course is light and fresh, you want a sauce with more depth, richness, and maybe some bitter qualities.
As is true with condiments, a good sauce is all about proportions. It isn’t about one cup oc this, 2 Tbs. of that – after all, some people like a lot of sauce, others, just a dab. It is about making sure that not matter how much you make, your proportions are always the same. That way, you can make sauce for just one meal, or enough for a whole party.
One of the most versatile sauces is this version of Sauce Gribiche. It is a tart, mayonnaise and mustard based sauce that has fresh herbs and pickled vegetables in it. It is delicious anywhere you would use mayonnaise, but with added notes of sweetness, sourness, and salt. Use the freshest herbs you can find and don’t be stingy with the pepper! If you are uncomfortable with using proportions, consider that you start with a cup of mayonnaise, then base your recipe off that.
1 part mayonnaise
1/2 part mustard
1/3 part lemon juice
1/5 part capers chopped
Dill and tarragon (as much as you can stand), chopped
zest from all the lemons that you used
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix it up and let it sit for at least an hour.
2. Taste before serving
That’s it. It is all about the balance and the proportions. The sauce is complex and incredibly harmonious – creamy, salty, punchy, and herbaceous. It is as delicious with cold roasted chicken as it is with fluffy baked potatoes and seared tuna. It is wonderful as a salad dressing, thinned with some apple cider vinegar, over cabbage and haricots verts. It is even tasty with french fries…actually, it is really tasty with French fries. Use this anywhere you would use Russian dressing or tartar sauce and see what you think.