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.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Freshly ground white pepper
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
- 2 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 leaves, peppercorns
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
- 1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
- 4 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
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