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Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making Hardcover – January 27, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 226 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Back in 1991, when the first edition of Sauces was published, it's as though James Peterson said, "Okay, this is what we know so far. Where do you want to go from here?" The "what we know so far" part started with the Greeks and Romans, moved through the Middle Ages, into the Renaissance, through the 17th and 18th centuries, and right on into time as we know it, time that can be tasted in the sauce.

The "where do you want to go" part continues to evolve, as it always will, but remains just as evident in the way we sauce our creations, both elegant and fundamental. In the second edition of Sauces, released seven years after the first, the "we" has expanded beyond Frenchmen and their disciples, and now includes the broader range of flavors experienced by Italians as pasta sauces, as well as New World cooks and their counterparts in the Middle East and throughout greater Asia. The solid base from which all this grows, however, remains the lessons learned in the French kitchen--and a better kitchen for such lessons has never been developed.

To cook is one thing, to sauce another. The right sauce lifts the right dish to a wholly different plateau of dining than would be the case if the cook didn't bother. This can be a humble pasta sauce created as a perfect balance of ingredients on hand, or a carefully considered sauce the ingredients of which have been developed at the stove over days, not mere hours.

In the sauce can be seen the reflection of the cook. There is no room to hide. In the well-crafted sauce can be found the ultimate expression of simplicity, which leaves even less room to hide. It is James Peterson's great talent that he can draw the home cook and professional cook into his dialogue on sauces, and teach them both how to stay afloat in such shallow waters.

Peterson gives the reader--in close to 600 pages, mind you--the continuum on which sauces have been based in culinary history. He gives the reader the kitchen science that allows sauces to work. He gives the reader the techniques necessary to follow along where many a cook has already whisked up a splendid creation. But most of all, he gives the reader permission to go ahead and be creative, to cut loose with knowledge and technique in hand and discover for oneself the way an inkling of a flavor idea can find its way to a dish and make the combined ingredients lift off the plate. Or not. Finding out what doesn't work can be just as important.

This is a book that can be taken to bed and savored, page by page, sauce by sauce. It is a book that should be on the shelf in any kitchen, professional or homebody alike. It is not a book to ever gather dust and need dusting. --Schuyler Ingle

From the Publisher

Sauces, winner of the1991 James Beard Cookbook-of-the-Year award and the ultimate reference for sauce making, is now available in a new, update and expanded edition. With more than 325 recipes in all, this book includes all-new chapters on Asian sauces and pasta sauces, plus new recipes that cater to lighter, contemporary tastes.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 2nd edition (January 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471292753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471292753
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.9 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been dabbeling in sauces for a number of years in my home kitchen. In my considerable collection of cookbooks none attempt to teach a culinary subject with the thoroughness of this effort. The book assumes a general knowledge of cooking, such as what temperature to roast your chicken at, and focuses on the theory behind what your sauce should do. While the book contains many recipes, they are presented as illustrations of various types of classic sauces. The author encourages the reader to experiment and fine tune their sauce efforts by illustrating the classic techniques and recipes.
In all my years cooking and collecting cookbooks this is the first cookbook that I have read cover to cover. While you can simply peruse the recipes and use the book as a reference it really shines when read in its entirety. If one is really interested in French sauces and the theory and technique behind them, this book is all that will ever be needed on the subject. And if you're wondering what kind of sauce to make with those lamb chops tonight...
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Format: Hardcover
"Sauces" is a book for professionals and serious home chefs and is the first book I've seen that compares and contrasts both classical and modern sauce-making methods. The author emphasizes the importance of quality stocks in sauce-making and points out that a stock appropriate for older, roux-based techniques is often inappropriate for more modern, reduction techniques. This explains why the stocks formulated in, say, the French Culinary Institute's "Salute to Healthy Cooking" are so much more concentrated than those in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and other classic French cooking texts. Peterson also includes methods for pan-prepared (integral) sauces that offer the professional and home cook alike a rapid way to prepare an impressive array of fine foods.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This tome on sauce making is easily the most thorough coverage I have ever been exposed to. Well, it's the only one I've been exposed to, and I doubt there is anything as complete as this.

Readable, in-depth, expansive, edifying, and complete.

This is a book that needs to be studied and intellectually digested over a period of time as if one were attending college to become a world class chef. This is professional material and should be treated accordingly.

A prized gift for the professional, the potential professional, and the (really) serious home cook.

That being said, if you want to just whip up a quick sauce in the pan, I'm not sure this will serve your needs. There are dozens of sauce recipes, and they're good, but the idea behind the book is to teach you how to use a particular technique, then apply your knowledge in your own unique way. This is a "get a PHD in sauces", not a whip-it-up-quick index card recipe book.

Twenty muscular chapters include:
1. A Short History of Sauce Making
2. Equipment
3. Ingredients
4. Stocks, Glaces, and Essences
5. Liaisons: An Overview
6. White Sauces for Meat and Vegetables
7. Brown Sauces
8. Stock-Based and Non-Integral Fish Sauces
9. Integral Meat Sauces
10. Integral Fish and Shellfish Sauces
11. Crustacean Sauces
12. Jellies and Chauds-Froids
13. Hot Emulsified Egg Yolk Sauces
14. Mayonnaise-Based Sauces
15. Butter Sauces
16. Salad Sauces, Vinaigrettes, and Relishes
17. Pruees and Puree-Thickened Sauces
18. Pasta Sauces
19. Asian Sauces
20. Dessert Sauces

A superb instructional manual that will make you an expert if you study and apply some effort. It gets my highest rating and reccommendation for anyone who craves praise for their cooking prowess (like me).

- Alleyrat
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Format: Hardcover
`Sauces, 2nd Edition ' by leading food teacher and writer James Peterson is high on my list of important, valuable single subject cookbooks which should be in the kitchen library of any serious amateur chef or professional chef in training.

The very first impression is the very large number of named sauces listed in the table of contents. And, it should be no surprise at all that almost every one of these sauces has a French name, even if the sauce is based on a non-French ingredient such as Sauce Hongroise based on paprika and Sauce Porto based on Port (originating in Portugal). Of the chapters covering eighteen different kinds of sauce, only one, the chapter on `Salad Sauces, Vinaigrettes, Salsas, and Relishes' has even the slimmest majority of recipes with a non-French cant, with its large selection of Spanish and New World salsas, south Asian chutneys, Greek mint lamb sauce, and American cranberry sauce.

The book opens with a short history of sauces, which becomes more interesting the more you know about Medieval and Renaissance cooking. The book even gives something missing from books on medieval cooking, the outline of an actual recipe for the ubiquitous verjuice, which was the Medieval and Renaissance source for sour tastes, which could be prepared from either grapes or apples. Just for fun, Peterson gives a few samples of Medieval and Renaissance recipes. The most interesting observation I found for culinary history was the statement that in the Middle Ages, sauces were thickened by pureeing meat, which is not at all surprising, as Medieval nobility looked down on all vegetable products (such as flour?) and preferred animal ingredients and spices in their dishes.
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