The Mother Sauce Series
Add the 5 mother sauces of classical French cuisine to your cooking repertoire.
Julia Child once poignantly said, “Sauces are the glory and splendor of French cooking.” With our straightforward and simple How To videos of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine, you’ll be able to experience the glory and splendor Child was referring to in no time.
Before we delve into the five mother sauces, a useful question to ask would be: what is a sauce? In essence, a sauce is a liquid that is thickened. There are a variety of ways in which this can be done, but with regards to the mother sauces, thickening is usually achieved with a roux, emulsion, or reduction.
A roux is a combination of equal parts fat and flour that is cooked together until the flour flavor has disappeared and the desired color is achieved. The fat used is generally butter, but other fats, such as lard or vegetable oil, can be substituted. Roux is a versatile thickening agent and used in three of the five mother sauces.
An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that are usually unmixable, such as oil and vinegar.
A reduction is the process of thickening a sauce by simmering or boiling to remove moisture.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what defines a sauce and how it is thickened, let’s take a look at the five mother sauces.
Béchamel: also known as white sauce, a combination of milk and roux.
Velouté: a combination of stock and roux.
Espagnole: also known as brown sauce, a combination of brown stock and roux and often tomato paste.
Tomato: a combination of tomato sauce and tomato paste.
Hollandaise: a combination butter and egg yolk.
These sauces are the starting point for hundreds of other sauces in French cuisine. Having them in your cooking repertoire will unlock countless culinary possibilities. Watch out for our individual articles on each sauce to come for further information on how to prepare them and what to pair them with.
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Published on December 7, 2015