Category Archive for: ‘Sauces’
How to Make the 5 Basic Sauces

No, the French didn’t invent the 5 basic sauces, known as “Mother Sauces”.

The Romans started using sauces around 200 AD to mask the flavor of spoiled meat.  Obviously those sauces were strong and heavy.

For the last couple of hundred years the French have dominated sauce creations.  They have what are known as the five foundation sauces or the base sauces for everything else.  They are bechamel, mayonnaise, veloute, brune  and the blonde sauce.

Today’s modern savory sauces are Bechamel (white sauce), veloute (blond sauce), Brown (demi-glace or Espagnole sauce), hollandaise (butter sauce) and tomato (red sauce).

Many, many savory sauces can be made from the base of these 5 sauces.  Over time I will give you the recipes for many of those but today I’ll start with the 5 basic savory sauces which will also be posted in a “sauce” category under recipes.

1.  Bechamel is just a white sauce made from butter, flour and milk, seasoned with salt and nutmeg.  The following recipe is courtesy of Mario Batali



  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

2.  veloute (blond sauce) is similar to a white sauce in that you start with a roux mixture (equal parts of butter and flour), but the difference is that the blond sauce is finished with chicken stock instead of milk.




In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

3. Brown Sauce is a very complex rich sauce when made correctly.


  • 1 veal shank
  • 2 veal knuckle bones
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut in half
  • 2 celery ribs, cut in chunks
  • carrots, cut in chunks
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart beef broth, low sodium
  • Bouquet Garni, (thyme, parsley, bay leavespeppercorns


Place the veal shank and knucklebones in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 45 minutes. When the veal pieces are brown, brush them with 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and season again. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and return the pan to the oven for 15 more minutes. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Saute the mirepoix (diced carrots, celery and onions) vegetables and thyme in the butter to coat then stir in the remaining tomato paste and continue cooking until the vegetables are caramelized. Pour in the red wine to deglaze, stir. Transfer the browned bones to the stockpot. Whisk in the water and broth. Add the bouquet garni and bring the sauce to a boil. Simmer gently for about 3 hours, skimming periodically. Strain the sauce through cheesecloth or a chinois to remove the bones and vegetable solids. Continue to cook for 1 hour more, skimming any foam that rises to the top, until the sauce is reduced to 2 cups and nicely thickened. Taste for strength and seasoning. May whisk in a pat of softened butter to finish the sauce.

Serve with meats or poultry.

4. Hollandaise sauce is a butter based sauce flavored with lemon.  Hollandaise can be difficult to make (or easy to break) but the following is a very easy method I’ve been using for years with good results.


  • 4 large eggs yolk only
  • 1 c butter
  • 8 ts lemon juice
  • 1/2 t hot pepper sauce Tabasco
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 Ts white wine vinegar


for Hollandaise Sauce

* Place the egg yolks in the food blender or food processor and season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and then blend thoroughly until the yolks lighten in color.
* Heat the lemon juice and white wine vinegar in a small pan until it just simmers.
* Turn the blender on again and slowly add the hot liquid in a steady stream. Turn the blender off.
* Using the same pan, melt the butter over a gentle heat until it just starts to foam.
* Turn the blender on again and trickle in the melted butter, a little at a time.
* Turn the blender off and scrape the sides of the blender clean with a spatula before giving it one last blitz to incorporate everything.

5. Tomato or Red Sauce is obviously a tomato based sauce. There are infinite variations you can accomplish from this.




  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt


In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.


That’s it for the basic sauces Fat Farmers.  Enjoy making different variations and let me know what you did. – jughandle

Marinades, Brines and Rubs


Marinades are flavor-infusing liquids best suited for tougher cuts of meat. In addition to herbs, condiments, spices, and oils, marinades typically include an acid, like lemon juice, wine, vinegar, even dairy.

Adding sweet ingredients to the marinade can help form appealing caramelized, crispy coatings on grilled meats.  The acids in the lemon juice, wine, vinegar, butter milk, etc will actually cook the protein in the meat by chemical reaction.

Always marinate in the refrigerator. And remember, if you’re basting with a liquid in which raw meat marinated, do not apply it during the last three minutes of grilling.

The good news:

Chicken, turkey and fish will take on marinade flavors much more quickly and effectively than red meats.  Fish only need to marinate for 30 minute to an hour.  Chicken and turkey 2 to 3 hours.  Red meats need at least 24 hours to work at all.  The more acid in the marinade the better and quicker it will work.

The bad news:

Marinades only penetrate the meat 1/8 inch at the most no mater how long you soak them.  Think of marinades as a sauce and don’t waste money on expensive ingredients for your marinades.  If you use sugar the sugar will tend to burn on the surface of the meat.  If you like charred meat, fine.  Don’t use alcohol either.  The alcohol will only cook the surface of the meat sealing it from further penetration of the other flavors.  If you use salt in the marinade then you are actually brining your meat.  See Brines below.


Brines are salty solutions that help lean meats hold their moisture so they stay juicy and tender during grilling.Brining is a popular method for preparing poultry, particularly turkey, and lean meats, like pork, that tend to dry out on the grill. Sugar, spices, and herbs are sometimes added to the liquid as well.Soak meats in a container large enough to submerge the meat completely without allowing it to float in the solution. Store in the refrigerator.

Before grilling, rinse brined meat to remove excess salt and dry it with paper towels.

Remember high school chemistry? Yeah, me neither.  But I do remember something about osmosis.  But I remember that in osmosis through a semi permeable membrane like the flesh of the meat, water or other liquid will flow from a lower concentration of salt to a higher one, back and forth until the concentrations are equal.  So first water flows out of the meat and salt flows in which starts to break down the proteins in the cells.  Additonal water will flow into the meat as the protein breaks down causing the meat to be more moist.

The brine can also be used as a vehicle to carry other flavors into the meat with the dissolved salt.  Hence the sugar (to balance the salt) and other flavors that will dissolve in water.

Obviously, there’s more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.

How Stuff Works has a short article describing osmotic pressure with a diagram that may be helpful to visualize the water flow.

What has happened is that through brining, we’ve caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.

Always start with a cold brine.  Refrigerate or ice the meat while brining to prevent bacteria from forming.  Brine for 2 hours per pound of meat and cover the meat with a solution of 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water.  The other stuff like sugar and herbs are just bonus flavors.


Rubs are seasoning mixtures rubbed on meats before grilling to add spicy or smoky flavors. The best rubs enhance the flavor of the meat without being overbearing and are often blends of strong and mild spices and herbs. When oil or another wet substance is included, it is called a wet rub. A little moisture helps the rub adhere to the meat.

Rubs are an easy way to infuse the surface of your grilled meats with exciting ethnic flavors–from Cajun to Korean.

Setting aside rubbed meats for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight allows the spices to permeate the meat as much as possible.

Rubs are most effective when used on slow cooking meat as opposed to a fast grilling method.  Slow cooking allows the meat’s juices to blend with the rub while high heat grilling only burns the rub on the surface.


Good luck with your flavoring methods.  Here at the Fat Farm we almost always use either McCormik’s lemon/pepper or just plain salt and pepper.  We let the meat speak for it self – jughandle

Silk Purse out of a Pigs ear

They (the proverbial they) say you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  I beg to differ.  I’m going to show you how to make the best Balsamic vinegar you ever had (within reason) out of the cheapest balsamic vinegar you can buy.

Considered a wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar is made from un-fermented grape pressings, not wine.  The pressings are boiled down to a syrup and aged by rules, hundreds of years old.  The real deal balsamic, only made in two provinces of Emilia-Romagna, Modena and Reggio Emilia, is then placed in unsealed oak barrels with a vinegar “mother” and allowed to turn to vinegar.  As it ages the mother will reduce the amount of liquid available and that liquid, now vinegar, will be transferred to barrels made from different woods to add to the complexity of the flavor profile over years.  This process takes a minimum of 12 years by law and as much as 100.  The 100 year aged Grande Vecchio vinegar below has been treated in just such a way.

Balsamic vinegar like the one pictured above goes for $361.00 for 2.4 oz on line.  I’m sure it would be amazing, but I can’t afford nor justify spending that much money on vinegar, no matter how good it might be.  Good “real” aged balsamic vinegars can be sipped straight from the bottle like a fine liqueur.  But wait, there is another process, a more modern process, to make balsamic vinegar that takes hours instead of years, even if it doesn’t qualify as the real thing.

The modern method uses huge presses, heat and adds sugar instead of letting time reduce and concentrate the natural sweetness of the grapes.  This grocery store stuff is not to be consumed straight from the bottle in a good crystal glass, but treated properly it can be very nice for dressings and cooking and will cost you less than $6 per liter.


The thing to do is to find a large bottle of nice acidic, sweet, inexpensive grocery store balsamic vinegar and reduce it to a syrup by gently boiling it down for a couple of hours.  Just pour the whole bottle into a sauce pan and bring to a slow rolling boil.  Make sure you save a little to taste the difference.  Reduce by at least 1/2.  I bring it down by 3/4.  But God knows, don’t burn it.  It smells terrible.  Let it cool and then use it over meat or in dressings.  Taste the difference, you’ll love it.  Note: when it cools it will be much thicker.  I’d start by reducing only by 1/2 if it is your first try at it.


Recommended Brands

This isn’t really as important as you might think.  Find a nice bottle and try it as I suggested.  If it works great, if it doesn’t try another.  You’ll only be out $3-6 but when you find the one that works stick with it, you’ll use it a lot.


Farm on, you Fat Farmers let me know what you think – Jughandle


When I first found out what Pesto was and how to make it, I was addicted to it.  But, being kind of a literal person I thought that it was the “Food Law” that things such as pesto were supposed to be made the same way each time.  Not so much, any more.  Now, being old and wise, or at least cheap and lazy, I now make Pesto out of what ever I have in the frig or pantry and I have learned that pesto means anything made by pounding.

I do stick by the basic premise of having a green leafy fresh herb or vegetable, a nut of some kind, cheese of some kind and oil.  I don’t always use garlic.


In a marble mortar and with a wooden pestle

Reduce garlic and pine nuts to a cream

Add basil leaves and coarse salt and grind everything to a creamy consistency

Finally add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grind into the mixture adding olive oil to create a paste.

This paste can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for several months in an air tight container.

Traditional pesto is used with pasta of course, but is also an important ingredient in minestrone soup.  It is great with tomatoes and potatoes.


Modern Methods:

Believe me, I have made pesto the traditional way in a mortar and pestle, but only once.  I found the “food processor” and have used it as such ever since.

  • In a food processor place
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 lb roasted pine nuts
  • and pulse until creamy
  • stuff in 5 cups of basil leaves
  • pulse until it all comes together
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 lb Parmigiano-Reggiano that has been coarsely diced
  • turn on the processor and through the open spout slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture is to the desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper as needed


Interesting Variations:

For a milder flavor try:

  • 1/2 lb of walnuts – toasted
  • 3 cups of packed spinach
  • 1/2 lb of white cheddar cheese
  • walnut oil and salt as needed

Mexican variation:

  • 1/2 lb of toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (hulled)
  • 3 cups of rocket arugula or Cilantro (or both)
  • 1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • olive oil and salt as needed

Try different cheeses, sprouts, broccoli, peanuts, almond nuts and have fun. – Jughandle