Dishes With A Rich Sauce Pair Best With Equally Hearty Sides

A good meal should be balanced, hitting all major food groups and components of taste. Yet, while you might not always achieve perfect harmony and flavor in every culinary pursuit, the good news is that sauce can be a savior. It's a powerhouse that jazzes up any meal, boosting and balancing flavors. It can also enhance texture by reintroducing some moisture and even enhance aesthetics by adding a pop of color. But, for every decadent sauce you craft, make sure it's matched with sides that are just as hearty.

Although you're at liberty to spend time reducing and whisking glazes and compotes, pan sauces aren't actually that complicated or time-consuming to whip up. In a pinch, mixing together a few condiments can even produce some pretty spectacular dressings. The tricky part is knowing how to best showcase them. Despite that they can be a welcomed addition to lean or overcooked proteins, they really sing with a hearty (and starchy!) side.

Starchy sides are essential when serving stick-to-your-ribs-style sauces. As perfect vessels, these sides effectively absorb all of those flavorful liquids, making for a tastier bite with every forkful. Whether it's a rosemary and garlic pan sauce drizzled over mashed potatoes or a burnt onion dressing slathered onto a steak hoagie, serving a satisfying and satiating starch is a non-negotiable.

The sauces you need to try and what sides to serve them with

A rich sauce bursts with big and bold flavors, adding decadence to whatever it's being drizzled over. For a simple condiment that's silky and savory, consider a rich au jus or a velvety gravy with pan drippings and aromatics. Otherwise, look to creamy dressings like cheesy Alfredo, citrusy hollandaise, or spicy aioli. You can also take a fresher route and whisk oil and vinegar with loads of herbs to make a fresh chimichurri, or opt for something zestier and go for a tangy teriyaki or smoky barbecue sauce.

Regardless of which sauce you make, you have options when selecting a suitable starchy side. While there's nothing like soaking up sauce with a bit of baguette, why not try richer options like cornbread and focaccia? Herby biscuits, pillowy bao buns, and airy popovers are also great stand-ins. Even savory waffles can be a creative way to trap sauce. Grains and cereals also work, whether that be pasta, rice, or quinoa. But, there's nothing wrong with a classic side of mashed potatoes either.

Of course, we can't forget about dessert. Chocolate ganache, salted caramel, or smoked maple syrup can all be soaked up with doughy delights like beignets and pancake stacks, or even slices of velvety cheesecake. With an endless world of sauces and so many hearty pairings, which combo will you test out next?