Sauce a lot

Dips, drizzles, syrups, and other gooey delights

November 23, 2009

Goo — sauces, dips, condiments, drizzles, syrups — can make a good meal great. A hot sauce lends a note of comfort to many dishes, and a cold sauce (especially when served with something hot) adds contrast and zing.

During the winter holidays, sauces are crucial: think gravy and cranberry sauce with turkey, or boozy or creamy sauces with pie and plum pudding.

Here’s our roundup of essential wintertime sauces. Some are grace notes, some are meals in themselves. But all are vital; after all, a sandwich without spreads is just protein and bread. Ech.

  1. gravy
    Lazy Gravy
    Savory. What would a wintertime roast be without gravy? For that matter, as much as we might love mashed potatoes served alone, how could we pass up a ladle of gravy over said spuds? Gravy is everyday but essential.
    Recipes: Lazy Gravy, Homemade Gravy
  2. Authentic Fondue
    Cheesy. Served with bread, salad, and perhaps sliced apples, fondue is a meal in itself. Forget the, erm, cheesy 1970s connotations of the dish; there’s good reason why this is classic comfort fare.
    Recipes: Authentic Cheese Fondue, Norman Cheese and Apple Fondue
  3. bagna cauda
    Bagna Cauda
    Garlicky. In the Piedmont region of Italy, bagna cauda — a warm, garlicky dip for fresh, wintry vegetables — is served as an appetizer. It’s a drippy, pungent way to make friends around the table.
    Recipe: Bagna Cauda
  4. spiced cranberry sauce
    Spiced Cranberry Sauce
    Fruity. Yes, of course Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without cranberry sauce, but you can bring a bit of summer into the winter kitchen by making all manner of fruit compotes. Serve them not just with meat but on toast, oatmeal, scones, and the like.
    Recipes: Spiced Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Dried-Fruit Compote, Peppercorn Winter Fruit Compote with Port and Lemon Zest
  5. Zabaglione
    Boozy. Plum pudding, gingerbread, and most winter pies are dry and lonely without the creamy, buttery, and above all alcoholic hit of Britain’s hard sauces. For a lighter, alcohol-laced dessert, whip up the eggy Italian classic known as zabaglione.
    Recipes: Hard Sauce, Whiskey Sauce, Zabaglione
  6. creme anglaise
    Crème Anglaise
    Creamy. Like hard sauces, crèmes anglaises are creamy dessert sauces with a boozy bounce; they’re generally thinner in consistency (no butter) and are excellent poured over any rich baked or steamed holiday dessert, from puddings and cakes to tarts and pies.
    Recipes: Crème Anglaise, Vanilla Pouring Custard (Crème Anglaise)
  7. Caramel Sauce
    Caramelly. Somehow the burnt-sugar taste of caramel just seems cozier in the winter. Dredge a sugar cookie through it.
    Recipes: Caramel Sauce, Orange Caramel Sauce, Sticky Toffee Pudding
  8. chocolate syrup
    Chocolate Syrup
    Chocolatey. No, you don’t need to wait for the winter holidays in order to make chocolate syrup. But added to warm milk, it makes quickie hot chocolate, and it keeps well in the fridge for days. Make a batch, then use it to perk up cold afternoons.
    Recipes: Chocolate Syrup, Warm Cinnamon Crisps with Hot Chocolate
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