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Brown Sauce aka Espagnole

by jughandle

This recipe is for a basic brown sauce.  One of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine.

It’s also the starting point for a sauce called demi-glace, which is traditionally served with red meats.  We will get into all of those other sauces later. – jughandle

5 from 1 vote
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Brown Sauce

One of the 5 French Mother Sauces and forms the basis for many of the classic French dishes

Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Keywords Brown Sauce
Protein Beef
Cooking Method Boiled, Stove Top
Hot/Cold Dish Hot
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 -1/4 cup servings
Author jughandle

What You Will Need:

For The Roasted Bones:
  • 3 lbs veal shank and knucklebones
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper - ground
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
For The Mirepoix:
  • 8 oz Onions - Small dice about 1 large white or yellow onion
  • 4 oz Carrots - small dice about 2 carrots
  • 4 oz Celery - Small dice about 3 stalks of Celery
  • 1 oz butter - Clarified butter (melt to remove the fat)
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato paste
For The Sauce:
  • 1 Cup red wine
  • 4 Cups Beef broth - low sodium is best
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Cups Filtered water
  • 2 Cups Mirepoix - Whatever the recipe makes
  • 1 bouquet garni - either fresh or dried
For Fresh Bouquet Garni:
  • 5 sprigs Italian Parsley - Fresh
  • 2 leaves bay leaves - Fresh or dried
  • 4 Stems Thyme - Fresh Thyme about 1 Tbsp
Optional - For Dried Bouquet Garni:
  • 1/4 Cup dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp dried Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp dried rosemary - optional
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns


For The Fresh Bouquet Garni:

  • Bundle the sticks and stems together. Wrap with a bay leaf or two and tie the whole thing with butcher's twine. Make sure to leave a long string to tie to your pot handle to make it easy to retrieve later.

For The Optional Dry Bouquet Garni:

  • If you don't have fresh herbs you can use dried. Fold the bay leaf, thyme, dry parsley, optional rosemary and peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth and tie the corners with a piece of kitchen twine. Leave the string long enough so that you can tie it to the handle of your pot to make it easier to retrieve it.

To Make The Mirepoix:

  • Saute the mirepoix (diced carrots, onions, celery and thyme) in the butter, in a large stockpot, to coat then stir in 1 Tbsp tomato paste and continue cooking until the vegetables are caramelized.

Roast The Bones:

  • These bones could be any beef bones you have saved in the freezer from other meals. Always save your steak bones for just such a time. Place the veal shank and knucklebones in a roasting pan, coat the shank and bones with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 45 minutes.
  • When the 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.
  • Transfer the browned bones to the stockpot containing the mirepoix.
  • Pour the red wine into the roasting pan to deglaze, stir. Rinse with a little liquid (either both or water) and pour into stockpot.

Make The Sauce:

  • Melt more butter in the stockpot containing the bones and mirepoix over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the filtered water and beef broth.
  • Add the bouquet garni and bring the sauce to a boil.
  • Simmer gently for about 3 hours, skimming periodically. The bone marrow contains a lot of fat.
  • Strain the sauce through cheesecloth or a sieve to remove the bones and vegetable solids.
  • Continue to cook for at least 1 hour more, reducing with the lid off, 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.


Note: makes 2 cups of sauce


Nutrition Facts
Brown Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 15mg5%
Sodium 1548mg67%
Potassium 379mg11%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 3085IU62%
Vitamin C 12.1mg15%
Calcium 114mg11%
Iron 3.9mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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1 comment

Sanne September 9, 2011 - 11:05 am

A wonderful job. Super hepflul information.

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