Brown sauces can be made in multiple ways and with a variety of ingredients, resulting in different, delicious flavor combinations to enhance your dishes. From main dishes to appetizers, brown sauces can enhance flavors and elevate your dishes.
Master Classic Brown Sauce Recipes
If you are just starting out in the kitchen, mastering some basic brown sauces can help you create staples you can return to again and again. A basic brown gravy can be made with flour and pan drippings from roasted, grilled, or pan-cooked meats, along with other seasonings and water. Delicious brown mushroom gravy takes gravy up a notch with red wine, mushrooms, and smoked paprika. Espagnole is a classic brown sauce for meats that include tomato puree and is delicious over a variety of meat dishes and is considered one of the five master sauces chefs should know. You can create brown sauces that range from very thin to rich and thick. Such as country gravy.
Get Creative With You Sauces
Once you've mastered a few basic sauce recipes, you can start to get creative in the kitchen. If you're looking for an easy, but upscale dish, create a savory sauce to serve over chicken with Madeira or Marsala wine (or substitutes), butter, and beef broth reminiscent of dinner in a fine restaurant. Mastering a basic brown butter cream sauce will allow you to incorporate your choice of flavors for a unique sauce from cheeses to mushroom broth to herbs. Elevate a beef dish with a flavorful blend of beef broth enhanced with ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, white wine, and a touch of Dijon mustard. You can even create elegant appetizers, such as mini egg rolls or dumplings with Asian-inspired sauce or cocktail meatballs with a sweet and sour sauce.
Bases for Brown Sauces
Beef or veal broth is the basis of many classic brown sauces, but you can also create brown sauces with numerous other ingredients. Other ingredients that you could use to create brown sauces include:
- Bone broth
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Red wine
- Roasted vegetable broth
- Pan drippings from most meats
- Barbecue sauces
- Darkened roux
Using Thickening Agents
Different thickeners can also be used in varying amounts depending on how thick you want your sauce. Potential ingredients that can be used to thicken your sauces include:
- Tapioca or rice flour
- Potato starch
- Milk, cream, or half-and-half
- Sour cream
- Egg yolks
For flour-based thickeners, you may need to first make a roux by melting butter, slowly adding the flour, and then adding liquid. Adding flours directly to hot liquids will form lumps in the sauce. If thickening using cornstarch, you can make a slurry with cornstarch and water and slowly add it to your sauce. In addition to using the above ingredients, you can also thicken sauces by cooking them for longer periods of time; eventually the sauce will reduce and be thicker.
Delicious Additions to Your Meals
Whether you like salty or savory, light or creamy, there are numerous ways to create brown sauces to complement a variety of dishes. Get started with the basics, and then get creative with an incredible accompaniment to your next meal.