Serving Sauces

Serving Sauces

Reheating Sauces

Most of the grand sauces and some contemporary sauces can be prepared in advance, then cooled and stored. When you are ready to serve them, you will need to reheat the sauce quickly and safely. This is most easily accomplished over direct heat, although in the case of some very delicate cream sauces, you may prefer to use a double boiler.

Once the sauce is at the correct temperature, check it carefully for the best possible flavor, aroma, texture, color and appearance. Make any necessary adjustments to the sauce either now, or after the sauce has been finished according to need.

Holding a Finished Sauce

Some sauces are suitable for holding in a steam table during service. As noted, they must be brought as quickly as possible up to service temperature. Then, they are generally transferred to clean bain-marie and placed in hot water bath.

Those sauces that have been thickened with a starch will be prone to developing a skin if they are left uncovered. Some chefs like to top the sauce with clarified butter. This creates an airtight seal that prevents a skin from forming on the surface of the sauce. Others prefer to use a fitted cover for the bain-marie or a piece of parchment paper cut to fit directly onto the surface of the sauce. Plastic wrap can also be used.

Emulsion sauces, such as hollandaise-type sauces and beurre blancs, need special care. They may not hole up in a steam table, since temperatures could be high enough to cause the sauce to break. Find another warm spot in the kitchen, or use a vacuum bottle (preferably one with a wide neck). Be sure that any emulsified sauces that remains after service are discarded to avoid food-borne disease.

Plating and Presentation

Sauces do add flavor, moisture and texture to a dish. They also serve to enhance its visual appeal. There are some principles used in applying sauces to foods.

Maintain the temperature of the sauce, be sure that hot sauces are extremely hot, warm emulsions sauces are as warm as possible without danger of breaking, and cold sauces remain cold until they come in contact with hot foods. The temperatures of the sauce, the food being sauced, and the plate should all be carefully monitored.

If the food being served has a crisp or otherwise interesting texture, it is generally best to pool the sauce beneath the food, spreading it in a layer directly on the plate. If an item could benefit from a little "cover" or the sauce has more visual appeal, spoon or ladle it evenly over the top of the food. Use common sense when you determine portion sizes for sauces. There should be enough for the guest to enjoy the flavor of the sauce with each bite, but not so much that the dish looks swamped. Not only does this disturb the balance between the items on the plate, it also makes it difficult for you to carry the food from the kitchen to the table without at least some of the sauce running onto the rim, or worse, over the edge of the plate.

Sauces should be artfully applied to foods, but they should never look as if they were "touched" or labored over. Foods should appear fresh and as natural as possible.

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