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Basics & Beyond: Signature Sauces

Basics & Beyond: Signature Sauces

From classic to edgy, Marsala to Cajun, the best sauces make use of elements like good stocks, wines, herbs and fruits.

Kevin Hurst
Chef de Cuisine/Manager, Latitude 39
Ohio University
Athens, OH

“Latitude 39 is OU's flagship dining experience restaurant, with a very consistent lunch crowd of university staff and faculty. Recently, the restaurant has undergone a menu change that took it from fine dining to more casual dining. With this move, sauces play a big part in appealing to a wider market while still appealing to loyal fine dining clientele.

“We make sauces from scratch to compete with local restaurants and to reduce waste (we use shrimp shells to make some stocks). It's important to know your ingredients and how their flavors work together, and also to know how to scale up recipes into large batches without altering the flavor.

Our Cajun Sauce is a combination of Creole mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, hot sauce and herbs. We use it with the Fried Rock Shrimp Popper appetizer and also in our Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich. Another sauce is Wild Mushroom Sauce. It incorporates wild mushrooms, shallots, garlic and heavy cream. We currently use it on Smoked Chicken Pasta.

Our most unique sauce is a Romesco Sauce, traditionally from Catalonia in Spain. It incorporates roasted red peppers, nuts, olive oil and other ingredients for a flavor profile that you don't see at many other restaurants in the area.”

Nathan McClure
Catering Chef
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR

“I use two ingredients that are local to Oregon for Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dark Cherry Sauce. Sweet, dark cherries from the northern part of the state and pinot noir from Oregon are great together. A good pinot noir can have dark cherry tones. The sauce can also go on chicken.

“Ideally, I get fresh cherries, but in a pinch, you could use unsweetened canned cherries. I sauté some shallots in a little butter (in the same pan I cooked the pork or chicken), add the wine and then reduce by half. Then I add the cherries (pitted and halved) and cook some more. They will break down and release some of their sweet juices and natural sugar, so it gets nice and syrupy.

“This dark burgundy colored sauce looks great over top herb-roasted pork, across a white plate. It could also be used as a glaze for a roast in a buffet setting.”

Vincent Timony
Executive Chef and Dietary Director
The Allendale Community for Mature Living
Allendale, NJ

“I always make the rounds, going from table to table, talking with residents about their preferences. I'm not surprised that they like the classics. The time when I first started cooking, the late 1970s, that's when many residents were in their prime ‘going-out-to-eat-in-restaurants’ time. And sauces are an important part of many great classic dishes, like Veal Marsala, which I like to update a little.

“The veal stock I make each week is how many of my best sauces begin. For a classic dish like Veal Marsala, I start with the veal stock and then deglaze the pan with Marsala wine. I update the Marsala sauce with shiitake and portabella mushrooms and a little thyme and sage.

“I like to use wines and fresh herbs, especially fresh thyme and sage, in sauces. Those components can change the flavor of each dish. For seafood dishes, like Stuffed Filet of Sole or Chilean Sea Bass, I like to use sauces with lemon, capers, white wine and a little butter.

“For the senior population, the first thing I had to adjust for sauces was less salt, so finding other sources of flavor (like the herbs and wine) is key. A serving of vegetables is made delicious with sauce, as well. A very popular dish is Cavatelli & Broccoli with a garlic, fresh basil and parmesan cheese sauce that has a base of chicken broth.”

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