THE COMPONENTS OF A SAUCE:
The major sauces are basically made of three components:
1. A liquid, the body of the sauce. stocks, milk, fats,
2. A thickening agent, roux, starch, liaison: cream, egg yolks, vegetable purees, fat and sometimes blood, as used in Europe for wild game sauces,
3. The flavoring and seasoning, a subtle balance of many ingredients,none dominating.
To understand sauce making you must learn to prepare these components. You need to understand how to combine and assemble them into finished sauces.
THE PURPOSE OF A SAUCE:
A sauce adds to the food it is served with in four different ways:
1. Adds moisture and texture,
2. Adds flavor and richness,
3. Changes the appearance and contrasts,
4. Creates interest and stimulates the appetite.
QUALITY STANDARDS OF A SAUCE:
The quality standards of a good sauce is measured by the following characteristics:
Consistency is given by partially thickening with roux or starch. Viscosity is the resistance of the sauce to movement, and is then achieved by reducing the sauce over a period of time.
Proper distribution of all particles in the sauce is given by perfect combining and homogenizing of the roux and stock. Reduction and depouillage of all impurities achieve this perfection. The sauce is given its final texture by straining through a cloth or chinois.
The proper color is the result of its components, stock, roux and various seasonings and flavorings. The color of each sauce is part of its character.
This is the degree to which the sauce reflects light. The shine comes from the starch used and the process of reduction and depouillage.
The cardinal rule of flavoring and seasoning sauces, is that it should be well balanced. A well-balanced sauce aims for a subtle equilibrium of many ingredients, without a single flavor dominating. The food it will be served with must be taken into consideration.