What is sauce ?
Sauce is a liquid that can be thickened and used to flavour and enhance a dish. The structure of sauce consists of a liquid(the body of the sauce), a thickening agent(ex. roux) and additional seasoning and flavours. Simple sauce examples are ketchup, mustard and mayo but can also get as sophisticated a meat jus, bernaise sauce or bordelaise sauce. Whatever the sauce may be its sole purpose is to enhance the dish by adding more seasoning and flavour.
The History of Sauce
In the early 19th century Marie-Antoine Carême a practioner in grande cuisine, “the high art of french cuisine” defined the most important sauces in french cooking to be béchamel, espagnole, velouté, and allemande. Later in the 20th century Auguste Escoffier a french chef and restaurateur who was a legendary figure among chefs and an important leader in the development of french cuisine changed the list and defined the mother sauces of french cuisine to be: béchamel, espagnole, velouté, hollandaise and tomato. The mother sauces were born.
All the sauce recipes I post on the mother sauces have come from one of my first cookbooks ever, “Professional Cooking For Canadian Chefs, sixth edition” by Wayne Gisslen. It’s an old book so I don’t think you can buy it anymore but they do have newer versions of it here.
How to make Béchamel
- 8 oz Clarified butter
- 8 oz Bread Flour
- 4 qt Milk
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Small onion peeled
- 1 Whole clove
- Salt to taste
- Nutmeg to taste
- White Pepper to taste
- Heat butter in a heavy sauce pot over low heat. Add the flour and whisk into the butter until it is fully incorporated. You are making a white roux. See note. Cool roux slightly
- In another sauce pan scald the milk and gradually add to roux whisking constantly.
- Bring sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Stick the bay leaf to the onion with the clove and add to the sauce. Simmer at least 15 minutes or if possible, for 30 minutes or more. Stir occasionally while cooking.
- Adjust consistency with more hot milk if necessary.
- Season to taste with salt, nutmeg, and white pepper. Spice flavours should not dominate.
- Strain the sauce through a china cap lined with a cheese cloth, or you can just use a strainer. Keep hot in a bain-marie, or cool in a cold water bath for later use.
Here are some recipes that include a bechamel sauce.
How to make Véloute
- 4 oz Clarified butter
- 4 oz Bread flour
- 2.5 qt White stock, hot (veal, chicken, or fish)
- Heat the butter in a heavy sauce pot over low heat. Add the flour and make a blonde roux. See note. Cool roux slightly.
- Gradually add the hot stock to the roux, beating constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the sauce very slowly for 1 hour. Stir occasionally, and skim the surface when necessary. Add more stock if needed to adjust consistency.
- Do not season velouté, as it is not used as is but as an ingredient in other preparations.
- Strain through a china cap lined with a cheese cloth or just use a stariner. Cover or spread melted butter on surface to prevent skin formation. Keep hot in a bain-marie, or cool in a cold-water bath for later use.
Easy Skillet Chicken With Veloute Sauce
How to make Brown Sauce or Espagnole
- 1 lb Onions, diced
- 8 oz Carrots, diced
- 8 oz Celery, diced
- 8 oz Butter
- 8 oz Bread flour
- 6 qt Brown Stock
- 8 oz Tomato pureé
- ½ Bay leaf
- ¼ tsp Thyme
- 6-8 Parsley Stems
- Sauté the mirepoix in the butter until well browned.
- Add the flour and stir to make the roux. Continue to cook until the roux is browned.
- Gradually stir in the brown stopck and tomato purée, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and skim the surface. Add the bouquet garni and let simmer for about 2 hours, until the surface is reduced to 4L. Skim as often as necessary.
- Strain though a china cap lined with several layers of cheese cloth or just use a strainer. Press on mirepoix to extract their juices.
- Cover or spread melted butter on surface to prevent skin formation. Keep hot in bain-marie, or cool in cold water bath for later use.
Chicken Skewers with Espagnole Sauce
How to make Tomato Sauce
- 8 oz Onions, medium diced
- 8 oz Carrots, medium diced
- 4 qt Canned or fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 qt Tomato purée, canned
- 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Bay leaf
- ¼ tsp Dried Thyme
- ¼ tsp Dried Rosemary
- ¼ tsp Peppercorns, crushed
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste
- 2 fl oz Olive oil
- Sweat onions and carrots until slightly softened but do not brown.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, the tomato purée and sachet (see note) . Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over very low heat (see note) for 1½-2 hours, until reduced to desired consistency.
- Remove sachet. Strain sauce or pass it through a food mill.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and a little sugar.
10 Ways to Use Tomato Sauce
How to make Hollandaise
- 2½ lb Butter
- ¼ tsp Peppercorns crushed
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 6 fl oz White vinegar or wine vinegar
- 4 fl oz Water, cold
- 12 Egg yolks
- 2-4 tbsp Lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne to taste
- Combine the peppercorns, salt, and vinegar in a sauce panand reduce untillnearly dry. Remove from the heat and add the cold water.
- Pass the diluted reduction through a strainer into a stainless steel bowl.
- Add the egg yolks to the bowl and beat well.
- Hold the bowl over a hot water bath and continue to beat the yolks until they are thickened and creamy.
- Remove bowl from the heat and using a ladle, slowly and gradually beat in the warm clarified butter. Add the butter drop by drop at first. If the sauce becomes to thick to beat before all the butter is added, beat in a little lemon juice.
- When all butter has been added, beat in lemon juice to taste and adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne. If necessary thin sauce with a few drops of water.
- Strain through cheesecloth if necessary and keep warm until ready to serve.
Poached Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce
Make sure you:
- Make sure all equipment is clean
- Hold sauce no longer than 1½ hours. Make only enough to serve at this time.
- Never mix an old batch of sauce with a new batch.
- Never hold hollandaise or bernaise(or any acid product) in aluminium. Use only stainless steel.
Although the classification of sauces were defined by Escoffier, the evolution of sauces and creativity of chefs have caused sauces to break free of this structure that I have presented to you. There are so many different types of sauces that haven’t been discussed and that do not fit the mold of these classifications. That being said sauces still need to taste good and are used to enhance a dish. That will never change in my opinion. Use these mother sauces as a starting point to learn the core principles of sauce making and then just let your creativity run wild. Happy Sauce Making!!!!
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