Sauces in French cuisine date back to the Middle Ages. There were many hundreds of sauces in the culinary repertoire. In ‘classical’ French cooking of the 19th and 20th century, sauces were a major defining characteristic of French cuisine.
The Mother sauces are Espagnole, Velouté, Béchamel, Tomato, and Hollandaise. There are two others, Buerre Blanc who doesn’t get the credit it deserves and Mayonnaise, which is the only cold sauce, yet is the base for many condiments. Both of these ‘Mother Sauces” can be used to create many more sauces.
There are literally hundreds variations of sauce that derive from a “mother” sauce that used to dress, compliment, enhance and bring out the flavor of the food served with. Food is simply better with sauce.
The “mother sauces” are pretty easy to make yet a few are time-consuming, therefore it’s not wise to try to create a shortcut.Once you these sauces down, you can create many unique sauces of your own, and have a better understanding when reading menus or ordering from an unfamiliar place.
This is just a brief description of the “Mother Sauces”, in the weeks to come I’ll be adding step by step recipes for making each “mother sauce” from scratch.
Espagnole~ Is a sauce I am sure many of you have never heard of. It’s been said that Demi-Glace is the true mother sauce. But when researching for this blog, to make a Demi-Glace you need to start with an Espagnole.
Also Espagnole is almost never served directly of food due to its strong taste.
As a mother sauce it serves as the starting point for many sauces such as: Brown sauce, Steak Diane sauce, Italian sauce, onion sauce, port wine sauce to name a few.
Velouté~ Is a French term meaning “velvet” is made from
a light stock of bones that were not previously roasted, such as chicken or fish stock. Veloute is thickened with a blond roux. To make the roux is to use equal parts of butter and flour to form the roux.Then either a light chicken or fish stock, and salt and pepper for seasoning.
Sauces derived from a velouté sauce include;Albufera Sauce, Allemande sauce, Bercy sauce, Poulette sauce,
Hungarian sauce, Normandy sauce, Suprême sauce, and Venetian sauce.
Béchamel~Is a white sauce made from a roux of butter and flour cooked in milk.It’s used in many recipes of Italian cuisine, such as lasagna. It is used as the base for other sauces with cheese.
Béchamel sauce is the base for a number of other classic sauces with other ingredients added including: Mornay sauce, Nantua sauce, Crème sauce, Mustard sauce, Soubise sauce, and Cheddar cheese sauce.
Tomato~ is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily from tomatoes, usually served as part of a dish. Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes. Throughout South America the tomato sauce is a stock for spicy sauces and moles.
Tomato sauce consists of salt belly of pork, onions, bay leaves, thyme, tomato purée or fresh tomatoes, roux, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper. Many times, butter and flour are listed in the ingredients, but those are only used to make the roux.
Other sauces derived from “tomato sauce” are; Arrabbiata sauce, Bolognese sauce, Marinara sauce, Neapolitan sauce, Ragù, Sugo alla puttanesca, and Vodka sauce.
Hollandaise~ is a mixture of egg yolk and butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by an acidic component such as lemon juice, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly flavored foods.
Hollandaise sauce is known as a key ingredient of eggs Benedict, and is often paired with vegetables such as steamed asparagus.Other sauces made from the base are; Sauce Béarnaise, Sauce Foyot, Sauce Paloise, Sauce au Vin Blanc, Sauce Bavaroise, Sauce Crème Fleurette, Sauce Dijon, and Sauce Mousseline.
Buerre Blanc~ is a hot emulsified butter sauce made from a reduction of vinegar and/or white wine and grey shallots into which cold, whole butter blended off the heat to prevent separation. A good beurre blanc is rich and buttery, with a neutral flavor that responds well to other seasonings, herbs and flavorings. It should be light and airy yet still liquid, while thick enough to cling to food.
Although not necessary, cream could added to act as a stabilizer to the sauce. Lemon juice is sometimes used in place of vinegar, and stock could added as well. Other sauces include; Beurre Rouge, Lemon-Dill sauce, Beurre noir sauce, Beurre noisette sauce, and Café de Paris sauce.
Mayonnaise~Is often abbreviated as mayo,is a thick, creamy sauce often used as a condiment. It originates from Mahon, Spain. It is a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk and either vinegar or lemon juice,with many options for embellishment with other herbs and spices.
Numerous other sauces created with addition of various herbs, spices, and finely chopped pickles. Other sauces are;Aioli, Choron sauce, Fritessaus sauce, Louis dressing, Remoulade, Salad dressing and Tartar sauce.