Cooking 101: 3 Simple sauces

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:05 p.m. ET

Traditional sauces are an easy way to make your cooking even better. When you prepare a dish that is served with a sauce, the sauce becomes the crowning glory. To help round out the basics of cooking, we focused on 3 traditional sauces.

Bechamel Sauce

Beurre Blanc

One simple and basic French sauce is Beurre Blanc, or "white butter." This classic sauce is very versatile and can be used for fish, poultry or vegetables. It's a tangy, hot butter sauce made with a white wine reduction, lemon juice and shallots.

Beurre Blanc is perfect paired with a mild-flavored main dish of chicken or fish. For a great meal anytime of year, try Grilled Cod with Beurre Blanc Sauce and serve it with fresh steamed vegetables.


Sauce Bechamel

You can't get much more basic than Bechamel sauce. That's because this sauce is said to be the "Mother of all Sauces" in French cooking. Bechamel, a white sauce, can be used with other ingredients to make a great meal (like using it as your sauce for Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna), but it can also be used as a base sauce. Meaning, you can add a wide array of ingredients to the base sauce to turn it into a different type of sauce. For example, by adding cheese to Bechamel you get a Mornay sauce. Add onions and you have Soubise sauce. And the list goes on.


Quick Tip


There is a trick to making a smooth Bechamel sauce: make sure the milk you are using to add to the recipe is hot (just prior to reaching a boil).




Hollandaise Sauce

A little tricky to make, but well worth the effort, Hollandaise sauce is yet another French classic. Always eager to order Eggs Benedict for breakfast? Hollandaise sauce is typically used to make that item ever-so-tasty. Another common way to use Hollandaise sauce is over steamed asparagus or other vegetables, and even fish. Creamy and buttery with a bit of tang, Hollandaise sauce incorporates egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and a bit of cayenne pepper for zip.

Putting this sauce together might take a little bit of practice, but once perfected, the results will have you licking your lips.


Make sure not to curdle the eggs by using too much heat. Too little heat and the ingredients will not bind together properly. If you have a double boiler, great! Use it to prepare this sauce. If you don't, you can just set a thick ceramic bowl into a heavy pan filled with about 1-1/2 inches of water.



More Simple Sauce Recipes

The Perfect Marinara Sauce

Homemade Tarter Sauce

Spicy Peanut Satay Sauce

San Antonio Barbeque Sauce

Warm Cherry Sauce

Granny's Hot Fudge Sauce