Proteins may be the heart of a Western dish, but sauces are the lifeblood that bring the dish to life. Whether you’re talking about meat, poultry or fish, there are countless pairings that have evolved from the 5 Mother Sauces, and many more that continue to be created to this day.
However, you can’t break the rules until you know the game. There are some basic guidelines when it comes to pairing proteins with sauces. In many cases, it depends on the preparation of the meat, as well as which parts you’re cooking. Here’s a general guide on how to put the two together.
For example, a beef fillet can be cooked to perfection simply by pan-frying in butter and joined afterwards by a pepper, stroganoff or red wine sauce.
In general, red meat goes in hand in hand with a full-flavoured dark sauce. For example, a beef fillet can be cooked to perfection simply by pan-frying in butter and joined afterwards by a pepper, stroganoff or red wine sauce. Meat stews often use a demi-glace or brown sauce; in a beef bourguignon for instance. However, some grilled meat, such as beef tenderloin, is complemented by a Béarnaise or other hollandaise-based sauces too.
Chicken is highly versatile and is compatible with everything from a barbecue sauce to a herb sauce. But its most classic pairing is with a light cream sauce, such as a mushroom sauce.
Ceviches, which are common in Latin America, consist of raw fish chunks that have been ‘cooked’ with citrus juices.
Most fish go well with a butter, herb sauce. Lemon juice also helps to cook the fish with its acidity while giving it a tangy flavor. Our chef recommends grilled salmon paired with hollandaise, or poached white fish with a butter sauce.
Another multifaceted meat, pork pairs well with a variety of sauces. Barbecued pork works best with mustard or a smokey, barbecue sauce, as does a pan-fried pork chop with an apple sauce.