The phrase “the icing on the cake” refers to something special or extra, the bonus that makes an already-sweet thing even sweeter. Well, I like cake as well as the next guy, but since I’m also a big fan of savory foods, I’ve sometimes wondered why that phrase isn’t “the sauce on the meat.”
Sweet or savory, sauce can do a lot more than improve a dish—it often makes the dish. What would a vegetable gratin be without white sauce? Or eggs Benedict without hollandaise? For the diner, sauce is not merely an accent that pulls a dish together—it’s one of the greatest pleasures of the table. It can be as simple as mint-flecked yogurt thinned with water, or as complex as the sauce for a flavor-layered rabbit fricassee. For the cook, making sauce is a point of pride and a creative outlet. As sauce expert James Peterson has written, “Sauce making allows the cook more freedom to work with flavors, textures and colors than any other area of cooking.”
What goes into the making of a great sauce? The same things that make any great recipe—high-quality organic ingredients and tried-and-true techniques, of course. But because a sauce typically has more concentrated flavor than the food it is accenting, using the best available ingredients possible when preparing a sauce is even more important than usual.
This month we introduce you to several classic cream-based sauces as well as some easy-to-make creamy sauces. They feature Organic Valley’s heavy cream, half-and-half, soy creamer and yogurt—the cream-of-the-crop ingredients that are as desirable for what they are—wholesome, fresh-from-the-field, and certified organic—as for what they are not—laden with pesticides, antibiotics, hormone, GMOs or additives.
Read on as we cover basic techniques for four types of sauce and offer sample recipes for you to try out. Happy sauce making!