Cook the Book: Caper Sauce

James Beard, "the dean of American gastronomy," on capers: "I use capers a lot. I like their distinctive, herby flavor and the additional bite imparted by the vinegar, which makes them a most piquant and interesting condiment or seasoning."

This recipe, English in origin, is for what Beard calls a "famous and rather unusual cream sauce, to which the pickled buds are added at the last minute, as the traditional accompaniment to boiled leg of mutton or lamb."

As with all the Cook the Book entries this week, this recipe comes from

Cook the Book: Caper Sauce

About This Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup boiling chicken or veal broth
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup warm heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup well-drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)


  1. 1

    Melt the butter butter, preferably in a glass or enameled castiron saucepan (it is inadvisable to use metal because of the acidity of the capers), add the flour, and blend well together. Cook 2 or 3 minutes, until the flour is well absorbed by the butter and gently frothing, then add the boiling chicken or veal broth and stir vigorously over medium heat until thickened. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. 2

    Season with salt, a touch of freshly ground black pepper, and a healthy pinch of nutmeg. Remove frum the heat and stir in the warm heavy cream. Return to the heat and simmer (do not hoil) for 3 or 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

  3. 3

    Just before serving, stir in the capers, rf more if you like them, and merely heat the capers through. You may also add chopped parsley if you like—it gives the sauce a nice color. Serve with boiled beef, lamb or mutton, or poached chicken.


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