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How to Pair Sauces

How to Pair Sauces

This filet has been paired with a peppercorn prune sauce.

The Culinary Institute of America

Certain classic sauce combinations endure because the composition is well balanced in all areas: taste, texture, and eye appeal. When choosing an appropriate sauce, it should be:

• Suitable for the style of service. In a banquet setting or in any situation where large quantities of food must be served rapidly and at the peak of flavor, choose a sauce that may be prepared in advance and held in large quantities at the correct temperature without affecting quality. In an à la carte kitchen, sauces prepared à la minute are more appropriate.

• Matched to the main ingredient’s cooking technique. Pair a cooking technique that produces flavorful drippings (fond), such as roasting or sautéing, with a sauce that makes use of those drippings. Similarly, beurre blanc is suitable for foods that have been shallow-poached because the cooking liquid (cuisson) can become a part of the sauce.

• Appropriate for the flavor of the food with which it is paired. Dover sole is perfectly complemented by a delicate cream sauce. The same sauce would be overwhelmed by the flavor of grilled tuna. Lamb has its own strong flavor that can stand up to a sauce flavored by rosemary. The same sauce would completely overpower a delicate fish.

Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006).