Judge Sauce Consistency at Serving Temperatures

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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It’s important for the cook to anticipate this cooling and thickening. We create and evaluate most sauces on the stove at high temperatures, around 200°F/93°C, but when they’re poured in a thin layer onto food and served, they immediately begin to cool and thicken. However thick a sauce is in the pan, it’s going to be thicker when the diner actually tastes it, and it may even congeal on the plate. So sauces should be thinner at the stove than they’re meant to be at the table. (Minimizing the amount of thickener will also reduce the extent to which the sauce’s flavor is muted.) The best way to predict the final texture of a sauce is to pour a spoonful into a cool dish and then sample it.