A gravy or sauce boat is a boat-shaped pitcher designed for use at a dining table. Since mainly fancier or special occasion dinners tend to be accompanied by sauces or gravies, these serving pieces are often made to coordinate with fine dishware. A sauce boat has a main body which may be round or more square in shape, plus a handle and a spout.
Many sauce boats are sold with a matching plate, or saucer. After the sauce boat is used by a person seated at the table, such as to pour gravy on his or her mashed potatoes, there may be some of the sauce still dripping from the spout or running down the side. If the diner rests the dish on its matching plate, any drips can then be caught and stopped from reaching and staining the tablecloth.
Most sets of fine china include sauce or gravy boats either with the original set or as an extra accessory that can be purchased. A gravy or sauce boat that isn't part of any dish pattern may also be purchased separately. These sauce boats may be plain in color so as to be easily coordinated with many different dishware patterns. Clear glass, white or black are common for individual sauce boat designs.
In addition to any type of meat or poultry gravy, sauce boats may hold many kinds of pourable food toppers. Creamy sauces such as Hollandaise or Bernaise as well as cheese mixture to top vegetables such as cauliflower are common contents. Hollandaise and Bernaise are both rich French sauces made with egg yolks and butter. Hollandaise is typically served on vegetables or egg recipes, while the more herb-packed Bernaise is an all purpose sauce suitable for many kinds of meat or vegetable dishes.
A less common use for a sauce boat is to hold dessert toppings such as pourable fruit blends. Chocolate sauce could also be poured in a gravy boat to top desserts such as ice cream or pound cake. Pound cake is a rich, butter-laden plain cake.
If the recipient's dishware and style sense is taken into consideration, a sauce boat can make a useful gift. At large family gatherings, an extra sauce or gravy boat may be especially useful, as these small pitchers don't usually hold ample amounts of pourable toppings. More than one gravy boat is also useful when different types of sauces are served at the same meal.