Dish - - Recipes - Words — JULIE BIUSO / Pho­tog­ra­phy — JOSH GRIGGS

A beau­ti­fully flavour­ful gravy, sauce or jus can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a good meal and a great one. Here, all the know-how you need to make your win­ter meals de­li­ciously saucy.

At its heart the role of a sauce is to carry flavour that will ei­ther en­hance or make a con­trast to the dish it ac­com­pa­nies. Whether it is a sauce, a jus or gravy, it should make the dish more en­joy­able, more suc­cu­lent, tastier, of course, and more in­ter­est­ing. A sauce can be as sim­ple as the pan juices re­main­ing in the dish af­ter roast­ing meat or poul­try (known as jus), or as com­plex as a multi-stepped process in­volv­ing brown­ing bones and mak­ing stock be­fore start­ing.

Here are a few tips for clas­sic roux-based sauces, such as béchamel and cheese sauce, and a few ideas for turn­ing pan juices into flavour-packed jus. And let’s not leave gravy out in the cold. It’s a Kiwi favourite and mak­ing a good one is worth mas­ter­ing.

MOTHER SAUCES (where it all begins)

• Clas­sic French sauces based on a roux, a paste of fat and flour (usu­ally but­ter, but it can be oil or drip­ping), are known as “mother sauces” be­cause they’re the base of many clas­sic sauces. • For a béchamel or cheese sauce, the roux is cooked briefly to cook the flour through be­fore milk is added. For a blond roux, the roux is cooked to a pale straw colour, giv­ing the fin­ished sauce a lovely nutty flavour. For brown sauces, the roux is cooked to a pale nut brown. Use reg­u­lar un­salted but­ter for white sauces, but clar­i­fied but­ter for a blond roux and oil or drip­ping for a brown roux to pre­vent the roux catch­ing and burn­ing dur­ing longer cook­ing.

Mak­ing a white sauce based on a roux … • The stan­dard ra­tio is equal parts but­ter and flour. How­ever, if you use less flour to but­ter, it will make a softer roux, that will blend more eas­ily with the liq­uid and form fewer lumps. Try it. • Work with con­trast­ing tem­per­a­tures – if the roux is hot, the liq­uid added should be cold to avoid it turn­ing grainy. If the liq­uid is hot (hot stock or in­fused milk for béchamel sauce), cool the roux be­fore blend­ing with the liq­uid. Use a small wire whisk for stir­ring be­cause it is more ef­fec­tive than a wooden spoon at get­ting into the bot­tom cor­ners of the pan and bet­ter at whisk­ing out lumps.

Thinly sliced shal­lots as an added ex­tra for gravy


Stir­ring with a slot­ted fish slice for lumpfree sauces


A dab of mus­tard to en­hance cheese sauce

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