saying goes that "The French have a hundred sauces to disguise a few foods - and
the Americans have a hundred foods disguised only by white sauce!"
It is true that many great gourmet dishes involve a special sauce, which used to
take hours to prepare. For the quick gourmet chef, there's a way around this:
1. Hollandaise and Béarnaise: Both are available in glass jars. You should be
able to find them in your local gourmet shop or supermarket.
2. Madeira, Armoricaine, Newburg, Supreme, et al: These, too, are available in
jars or frozen, and will transform the humble hamburger or leftover into a
3. Bottled Meat Sauces: Diable, Robert or Cumberland sauce, Worcestershire, and
a wide range of mustards from Devilled to Bahamian to Dijon. Wash your hands
thoroughly, use a judicious few tablespoons of whatever you fancy, and rub it
thoroughly into chops and steaks. This replaces the marinades which used to take
4. Dessert Sauces: Be cautious about these! There are lots of edible varieties -
but very few that come up to a gourmet's standard! . . . as you will see in our
gourmet dessert section, there are innumerable quick tricks with liqueurs and
fresh fruit for presenting gourmet desserts in a minute. (
5. Basting Sauces: Here you begin to be a gourmet chef, for a basting sauce is
largely invention based on experience as you grow proficient with recipes.
Basting sauces are used with fish, meat and poultry. Generally, they are melted
butter blended with herbs - or spices - or fruit and fruit peels - with or
without a dash of cooking wine. The precise ingredients depend upon the final
flavor desired: tangy, sultry, or sweetish.
The basting sauce should be made at the start of the cooking operation, placed
over the lowest possible heat, allowed to sit and grow acquainted with itself. A
quarter pound of butter makes an adequate basting sauce; half a pound is
sometimes better-if you can bring yourself to it!
The basic procedure is to combine butter chunks and desired seasonings or
flavorings in a small saucepot (a stainless steel one-cup measure with a handle
is satisfactory), and to obtain the full savory blend by simmering gently during
the first steps of searing meat or poultry, firming the fish flesh, etc. A
basting sauce is used to moisten and flavor a dish during its cooking; it is
brushed directly onto roasting meat or poultry with a pastry brush at 10 or 15
minute intervals, or poured over fish and broiled dishes every 5 minutes for
For long cooking roasts, when the basting sauce has all been used, a roaster
baster will pick up pan juices for moistening the dish.
6. Wine & Wine Sauces: "The better the wine, the better the dish" is the gourmet
standard ... although it's not necessary to buy fine vintage drinking wines for
use in the kitchen. If you have good local wine, do use it for cooking.
Never buy cooking wine or liquor purely on a price basis; the cheap brands do
not have sufficient alcoholic content to create a flambee dish - and will not
have enough flavor to remain in the sauce. White wines can be used for any
recipes, but red wines can only be used for dark meats . . . when they will not
discolor the dish.
At table, the only standard today is flavor, and red or white wines are served
interchangeably. Traditionally, red is for meat and white is for chicken or fish
- but these days, you can do as you please!
When wine is added directly to a dish during cooking, lower the heat immediately
or the meat will toughen.
7. Fats and Oils: For true gourmet cooking, there is no substitute for butter
unless particularly specified. Sweet butter is preferable, because the amount of
salt varies in commercial brands; if salt butter is used, decrease the amount of
salt in a recipe and check seasoning just before you serve.
Butter is absolutely essential for sauces and basting, but cannot be used for
frying; at high temperatures, it decomposes chemically and burns.
For Deep-Fat Frying, use liquid or hydrogenated oils such as Crisco. These can
be re-used once or twice, if you allow sediment to settle and decant (pour off)
the clear top fat after each frying. Once frying fat has been used for fish, it
cannot be used for anything else! If you enjoy fried foods, it's wise to have
two fat kettles - one for fish, and one for everything else.
For all Italian, Spanish or Latin-American dishes, a tablespoon of olive oil
should replace butter in starting the dish.
Lard is excellent for greasing baking potatoes or pan-frying fish. It cannot be
re-used, but is inexpensive enough to discard and start fresh next time. Bacon
grease is equally good for baking potatoes or to saute fish, and can be smeared
thickly over chicken breasts or squab before roasting. Because of its positive
flavor, only tangy herbs will combine with it for added taste.
No gourmet cook ever uses margarine for anything.
8. Meat Glazes: For a handsome browned surface to meat or poultry, mix a
tablespoon of commercial gravy coloring with two table spoons of water. Paint
all exposed parts of the poultry or meat before placing in the oven.
9. Shallots are a small onion bulb resembling garlic in formation of cloves, but
very mild in flavor. Typically French, they are not always available but make
all the difference in a sauce if they can be had. Minced scallions (spring
onions) are an acceptable substitute - and in moments of stress, a tablespoon of
grated white onion will equal 2 minced shallots.
10. Grated orange and lemon peel are readily available in jars; a teaspoon
equals the grated rind of a whole medium- sized fruit.
11. Garlic can be bought powdered (a quarter teaspon equals a fresh clove), but
a garlic press will produce a much better flavor from a peeled garlic clove.
Onion and garlic juice are also available; use them purely for flavoring, as
many dishes are better with sauteed pieces of onion. Onion flakes are good for
home-cooking, but not sufficient for gourmet results.
Good luck with your quick gourmet sauces!
If you'd like to prepare wonderful, delicious and stylish dishes that will
delight your family and amaze your friends - without spending hours struggling
in the kitchen with complicated and potentially disastrous recipes - then our
website is for you! All our recipes can be completed in just 30 minutes
and are fun and easy to prepare.