These 4 must-have sauces are the secret to great modern dishes

Sixty years ago, a sauce usually meant a classic French mixture, from the basic flour-thickened béchamel to satin emulsions such as hollandaise, to brown sauces based on high-intensity Escoffier broth. workforce. In the 1970s and 1980s, the new cuisine announced sauces without flour, such as beurre blanc, as well as sauces based on pureed vegetables.

Those sauces haven’t gone away, of course, but in recent years they’ve had to share the spotlight with a whole new naughty cast. American tastes have broadened and become more adventurous. Today, sauces can be cold or room temperature concoctions, salsas, dipping sauces, whipped mixes in a bowl rather than a pan. Here are four easy sauces that fall into the latter category and promise to dramatically up your cooking game.

A Provençal aioli

In France, this tasty Provençal garlic mayonnaise is usually served in the middle of a large platter as a Large Aioli, surrounded by vegetables cooked at room temperature, such as new potatoes, baby artichokes, eggplant and green beans. Fish, usually salt cod and boiled eggs are often included. But in recent years, aioli has become de rigueur as a topping for everything from burgers to grilled oysters or fries.

This tasty Provençal garlic mayonnaise is traditionally made from scratch, using a mortar and pestle to grind garlic and salt into a paste, then mixing in an egg yolk and finally adding olive oil, drop by drop, using the pestle to stir and mix. all in.

I use a food processor to speed up the preparation. And I take other liberties too, using good quality mayonnaise, instead of making my own, and adding interesting ingredients.

Aioli, a Provençal garlic mayonnaise, is easy to make at home, especially if you use a food processor and cheat a bit with store-bought, not homemade mayonnaise — and you can boost the flavor by adding other ingredients, from roasted red peppers. with lemon zest. (Getty Images)

I often add mashed roasted red peppers, for example, because of the flavor they add, then serve them over crab cakes or on toast as a garnish for fish soups. If you like a little more attitude, you can add 1-1/2 tsp chilli powder and/or 1/2 tsp ground cumin.

For a spicy, slightly smoky version, add a dollop of mashed chipotle peppers. The chilies are wrapped in a tomato-based adobo sauce. I puree the adobo sauce and chiles together in a small food processor and freeze any leftover puree for future use.

And if I’m garnishing seafood, I add chopped fresh herbs (like chopped basil or parsley) and a pinch of chopped lemon zest.

Easy aioli

Makes about 1 cup


3 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 to 3 pieces roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry, optional

1 cup mayonnaise

Pinch of cayenne pepper


With the motor running, add the garlic to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and blend until minced. Add the roasted red pepper and puree. Add 1 cup of mayonnaise and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Refrigerate, tightly, for up to 2 days.

Use it: Serve it over cooked crab cakes or brushed on toast as a garnish for fish soups. It is divine as a dip for fries, fried zucchini or chicken wings or as a sauce for kebabs. Or add fresh herbs and lemon zest and serve over grilled or grilled fish.

Argentinian chimichurri sauce

This seductive green sauce is a staple in Argentina, where it’s served with the country’s legendary grilled steaks. It’s usually made with a mixture of cilantro and flat-leaf Italian parsley, but feel free to vary the ratio to suit your tastes – use all the parsley, if you hate cilantro, or omit the parsley, if you’re a cilantro lover. .

Fresh parsley and cilantro are the key to an Argentinian-style chimichurri.  (Getty Images)
Fresh parsley and cilantro are the key to an Argentinian-style chimichurri. (Getty Images)

If desired, you can use half the sauce as a marinade for the skirt steak, hanger steak, or flank steak before grilling. Chill marinated meat in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Serve grilled beef with remaining sauce, discarding marinade.


Makes about 2 cups


1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed

3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped

1 red fresno or red jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds before chopping for a less spicy sauce)

2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh oregano

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


In medium bowl, combine vinegar, salt, garlic, shallot and chiles; let stand 10 minutes.

Stir in cilantro, parsley and oregano. Stirring constantly with a fork, add the oil in a thin stream.

Use it: Serve chimichurri with grilled steaks, lamb or pork chops. It is good with roast chicken or salmon, and delicious on sautéed shrimp, grilled skewers or roasted vegetables. Stir it into cooked grains for a succulent salad.

– “The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide to Bon Appetit” (Andrews McMeel, $45)

spanish romesco sauce

A Spanish Romesco is a culinary gem. This thick, red-hued sauce can turn chicken, no matter the cut, into an irresistible dish. Salmon too. Romesco is what makes Patatas Bravas so brave, and it’s also a great sandwich spread.

This version is a thick and coarse mixture of roasted red peppers, toasted hazelnuts, cubed bread, sherry vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika and extra virgin olive oil. If you want a smaller amount, cut the recipe in half.

Romesco sauce is a classic Spanish condiment, wonderful served over grilled chicken or vegetables, patatas bravas or, in this case, a classic Spanish escarole salad.  (Getty Images)
Romesco sauce is a classic Spanish condiment, wonderful served over grilled chicken or vegetables, patatas bravas or, in this case, a classic Spanish escarole salad. (Getty Images)

A word about nuts: I use Trader Joe’s Roasted Whole Unsalted Hazelnuts. Much, but not all of the skin is removed – don’t worry about what’s left. If using whole unroasted hazelnuts, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast them at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, and be sure to shake the pan to swirl the nuts halfway through roasting. Transfer the nuts to a clean tea towel, pull the sides of the tea towel and let rest for about 1 minute. Using the towel, gently rub the hazelnuts back and forth to release as much of their skin as possible.

Romesco sauce

Makes about 1½ cups


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use

1/2 slice hearty white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinless

2 large garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced

1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry

1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12 inch skillet. Add bread and hazelnuts and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bread is toasted on both sides, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.

Transfer bread mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add the red peppers, vinegar, honey, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped, 5-8 pulses. Sauce can be refrigerated, tightly sealed, for up to 2 days.

Use it: Pour it over broiled or broiled pork chops, lamb chops, or chicken breasts or thighs. It is delicious on slices of toasted French baguette or roasted vegetables.

– Cook’s Country magazine

Green Goddess sauce, dip or dressing

The classic tarragon-tinged Green Goddess dressing was invented in 1923 by Philip Roemer, the head chef of the iconic Palace Hotel in San Francisco, to dress up an artichoke salad for celebrity guest, Broadway actor George Arliss . The British actor was playing the lead role in a play called ‘The Green Goddess’, hence the name of the new dressing.

(Unless your tastes lean towards racist, colonial-leaning films, best to skip the silent version of the 1923 play and the 1930 Walkie-Talkie remake, and focus instead on the delight of the impeccable dressing. .)

The classic Green Goddess dressing is easy to make at home — and this version skips the anchovies.  (Getty Images)
The classic Green Goddess dressing is easy to make at home – and this version skips the anchovies. (Getty Images)

A classic green goddess contains anchovies. This milder version omits the small salt fish, uses the traditional bounty of fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice, and adds sour cream with the mayonnaise. And it works just as well as a sauce, dip, or dressing.

Quick Green Goddess Dressing

Makes 1¾ cups


3/4 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Whisk all ingredients together in a serving bowl until smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days so the flavors can blend.

Use it: Use as a dip with vegetables, solid crackers or crostinis. Use it to garnish baked potatoes or serve over roasted asparagus. It is delicious over grilled fish or boneless, skinless roast chicken thighs. And if you want to use it as a vinaigrette for a steamed romaine lettuce or artichoke, dilute it with a little milk to make it runny.

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