How Sauce Can Elevate a Dish: A Home Cook’s Guide

Better with SauceCan you remember the last time you’ve had a memorable dish with a rich, distinctive sauce? The sauce is a very important dish element. Although not every dish requires it, many rely on it to give a depth of flavor that makes a dish memorable.

Sauces can elevate a dish in more ways than one.

Why Use Sauces?

Probably everyone is familiar with barbecue sauce on ribs, or sweet and sour sauce with fish. These are quintessential pairings of sauce and meat that go well with each other. The primary purpose of sauces is to introduce complementary flavors to a dish.

Citrus, butter, or herb-based sauces go great with fish. Red meat goes well with wine-infused sauces. Pork, being a versatile protein, may be paired with a variety of sauces, such as a red-wine reduction sauce or a demi-glace sauce.

Aside from influencing the flavor profile of a dish, sauces also enhance moisture, succulence, texture, and visual appeal. When you grill meat, the drying effect may be compensated by adding a thick, richly flavored barbecue sauce. Lean meats like poultry and fish may be paired with beurre blanc to add succulence.

Texture is a pleasing element in food, and sauces can give a textural contrast to a finished dish. For example, you may pair a pan-seared chicken breast with smooth gravy. Sauces also add visual appeal to food. A vibrant chimichurri sauce brightens up a lackluster pork chop, while a pool of red pepper coulis adds an element of color to a grilled steak dish.

Home Cooking with Sauces

Demi-glace is a staple sauce in every kitchen, as it elevates almost any dish. Classic demi-glace, a highly-concentrated brown sauce, is made by slowly simmering stock and wine to achieve that intense flavor.

For most home cooks, the process of creating a sauce like that can be complicated and time-consuming. A helpful alternative is to use ready-made sauces that will give you a distinctive depth of flavor to your meals.

Sauces are a home cook’s dream, and with its versatility, you can add richness and authentic flavor to any dish.