Mother Sauces

April 6, 2012Katie

Are you a sauce person?

Do you it when a wonderful sauce  swims around something else equally fabulous on your plate like a meaty grilled porterhouse or some fresh fettuccine?

Did you know that most sauces stem from the five “Mother Sauces” of cooking?  I have long since wanted to do this series of posts, mostly to teach myself, but also to share my findings with you, the reader so you can learn to make these at home as well.  I will make each sauce as a separate post, and then link each one back to this post for future reference!

So, just what are these “Mother Sauces”  anyway? 

There is Béchamel, with its creamy wonderfulness and French background (actually all five sauces are).  This sauce, also called “white sauce” frequently, is named after its creator  Louis de Béchameil, marquis de Nointel. He was the chief steward to Louis XIV.  Out of this wonderful sauce, you could come up with hundreds if not thousands of variations like alfredo sauce, mornay sauce or chipotle cream sauce.  For once you learn the basic sauce, additions are left up to your imagination.  Here in the southwest, we make cream gravy which is a variation of this sauce with cream instead of milk and salt and pepper.

The second sauce is Velouté.  Appropriately named for the word (velvety), and is a light sauce based on broth of chicken, veal, fish or beef stock.  By light, I mean that the bones aren’t  roasted first to make the stock.  This results in the stock itself being lighter in color than if you roasted the bones first in the oven (which would produce a darker stock base).  Improvisations to this sauce could be adding white wine and heavy cream to make a Sauce Vin Blanc or my personal favorite Suprême sauce by adding cream and heavily reduced mushroom liquor (not the boozy kind – just simmered down mushroom juice!) to chicken velouté.

The third sauce is Espagnole.  Now, you would expect this sauce to be spicy or red in color due to its obvious Spanish sounding name, but it is actually a brown sauce.  The brown comes from a very dark roux that is made with veal stock or water added to it along with some roasted bones and vegetables and beef, and even tomato paste later on in the game.  This sauce is strong and is usually  not used directly but turned into something wonderful, usually demi-glace by adding more veal or beef stock and thinning it out a bit.  This one is a bit difficult, I shall probably attempt it last as even the ingredients may be a bit difficult to come by.

The fourth sauce is Hollandaise  (sometimes referred to as mayonnaise).  Many people are familiar with this sauce due to the popularity of Eggs Benedict.  It is an emulsion of egg yolks, lemon or vinegar and some type of oil, whether butter (hollandaise) or true oils like vegetable or olive oil (mayonnaise).

The fifth sauce comes with a bonus.  The original mother sauce five, touted Vinagrette (or Vinaigrette) as the fifth sauce, but today, many consider Tomato as the fifth sauce, so I shall include both.  So I guess you could change the title of this post to The Five Mother Sauces Plus One.

Sauce Five or Vinaigrette is something we’ve made often on this site. It is the basic recipe for salad dressing of the simplest kind but can also be used on meats and fish dishes and other possibilities as well!

Sauce Six is  Tomato Sauce, and is, as predicted, made of a base of tomatoes and probably most commonly used on pasta or meat dishes.

Over the next few weeks, I will attempt these sauces with photographs of how I make them. I hope you will enjoy following along with me through my triumphs (and failures I’m sure).  For if you can learn how to make these wonderful sauces, your meals will begin to take on an entire new life as you compliment meats, vegetables and pasta with wonderful sauces and their variations.  If you try these as well, please come back and tell me what you did with them..from the basic sauces to your additions to them.  I’d love to hear each and every one of them!

 Mother Sauce Attempt #1 – Bechamel Sauce

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