Sauces are a very important part of our main courses, and there are endless variations for them. I’ve already given you quite a lot of ideas for spaghetti sauces, dear friends – a dish where the sauce plays a vital role, of course.
But also in our everyday British/American dinners with meat, chicken or fish, carbs and vegetables we all appreciate a good sauce to round up the culinary experience.
Basically, there are vegetarian sauces with various flavours that you can make without any ingredients derived from meat, there are sauces using both vegetables and meaty stuff like stir-fried meat or bacon, and there are gravies based on meat, chicken or fish stock. For those, it’s enormously helpful to have gravy powder at home – Bisto, as it’s called here in Britain. How I’d been missing it during the 20 years I lived in Greece! You can, of course, make your own gravy base with beef or chicken stock and flour; but Bisto’s just so much easier…
50g butter, 2tbsp flour, 200ml milk, 1 egg, 100g grated cheese (cheddar, edam, gouda, mozzarella…), 1tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg
I must admit I simply LUUUUURVE melted cheese – so, cheese sauce is one of my absolute favourites. Now never mind the calories; it’s enormously nutritious and healthy – all that calcium and magnesium and vitamin B12! Not to speak of the flavour…
Heat up the butter in a medium pot, then add the flour while whisking, then slowly add the milk. Simmer for 2-3 minutes while whisking, then add the egg, the cheese, the lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutmeg and, if necessary, some more milk or water if the mixture is getting too thick. Simmer on a low flame for 5-6 minutes until it’s got a lovely semi-thick consistence.
Goes perfectly well with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes! You can also use it, of course, in any gratin dish baked in the oven…
Cream and mushroom sauce
50g butter, 2tbsp flour, 200ml milk, 1 egg, 150g mushrooms (tinned), 1tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg
A very simple and extremely delicious sauce you can serve with a vegetarian meal of carbs and vegetables, or with stir fried strips of beef or chicken or cubed bacon like my Mum always does. Either way, it’s a special treat without much hassle!
Heat up the butter in a medium pot, add the flour while whisking, then the milk; keep whisking for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the egg, the lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir for another minute, then add the mushrooms. Simmer on a low flame for 5-6 minutes and don’t forget to keep stirring!
If you like, you can add the fried meat or bacon, or you can pour it over your pasta or your rice as it is, for a completely vegetarian meal.
80g butter, 1 egg, 1tsp lemon juice, 2-3tsp mustard, salt, pepper
This is a sauce very much suited to fish dishes – cooked or fried fish, with cooked, mashed or fried potatoes. My mum used to do it when I was a kid and hated fish, and it really made fish dishes so much more bearable… Of course, by now I like fish a lot better, and I love mustard sauce as much as ever!
In a small to medium pot, prepare a simple sauce Hollandaise: beat the egg and 50ml water with a whisk, then heat it up; cut the butter into slices and add them one by one while whisking. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and simmer on a low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly.
Then, simply add the mustard, stir well and serve with your fish!
Now for the gravies:
20g butter or 3-4tbsp oil, 1 onion, 3tsp Bisto (or 1tbsp flour and ½ chicken or beef stock cube)
One of the simplest gravies that goes with all sorts of meat, sausages or fowl, with pasta, mashed potatoes or rice, and with literally any sort of vegetables. Simply slice the onion and fry it in the butter or the oil for 2-3 minutes, (if you’ve got any jus left from frying steaks or chops, so much the better to put it in with the butter), then add 150ml water and as soon as it boils add the Bisto powder (or the flour and the stock cube); stir well with a fork and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Ready to pour over lamb chops, macaroni and carrots, to give just one example!
Mushroom cream gravy
20g butter or 3-4tbsp oil, 3tsp Bisto (or 1tbsp flour and ½ chicken or beef stock cube), 100ml cream, 150g mushrooms (tinned)
This is a delicious sauce to go with pork or lamb chops, steak, schnitzel or chicken. Just fry whatever meat you’re having, then take it out and put the butter or oil in the pan. When it’s hot, add the water, then the Bisto (or the flour and stock cube) and stir with a fork. As soon as it thickens, slowly start adding the cream and keep stirring; then throw in the mushrooms, lower the heat and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Whisky cream gravy
20g butter or 3-4tbsp oil, 3tsp Bisto (or 1tbsp flour and ½ chicken or beef stock cube), 100ml cream, 2stp mustard, 50ml whisky
Here’s a most lovely variation of cream gravy that my darling husband and me first tried on our holiday in – Scotland, where else?
Fry your lamb chops or your steak (or your haggis, if you’re able to obtain some), then proceed as with the mushroom cream gravy: butter or oil, 50ml water, then the Bisto and the cream. When it’s thickening, instead of mushrooms add whisky (preferably Scotch) and mustard and let simmer for 5-6 minutes – a special treat for a special evening!
Keep enjoying your cooking, dear friends – there are so many things to discover and create in your kitchen! And do tell me about your own special sauce and gravy ideas…