The 5 Mother Sauces of French Cuisine

Duck Fillet - Annie Smithers Bistrot French Cuisine
Duck Fillet – Annie Smithers Bistrot

Food, oh wonderful food, the last great escape of indulgence. In this episode of this insane blog, we’ll move away from Rome and Costa Rica and take a moment to appreciate of the great food cultures and the genesis of the most delectable dishes known to mankind, the recipes of which probably evolved from the genius of one of The 5 Mother Sauces of French Cuisine.

This is one of those pages in this blog that is put here for myself, as I’m learning to prepare tasty dishes and improving by leaps and bounds. A couple times I’ve prepared food so good that I couldn’t even believe I made it myself. Such as Duck L’Orange that was 8 hours in the slow-cooker and turned-out to be as good as any I’ve previously ever eaten.

As a teenager and early twenties, I worked as a waiter prior to becoming a Bartender and twice I worked in French Restaurants, in both Canada and Australia. Once you understand cooking, you soon realize that the 5 Mother Sauces of French Cuisine, are the foundation of almost every great cuisine, just modified from the original, or improved by adding things but really the basic framework is the mother sauces of France.

White Sauces

Mother Sauces of French Cuisine

Sauce Béchamel
This base sauce is essential in many other classic sauces such as crème sauce, mustard sauce and many cheese sauces such as Mornay. Produced by combining a white roux of butter and flour with heated milk, it is commonly served with white meats, and used as a foundation in many gravies and soups, as well as popular dishes ranging from lasagne, other pastas and pizzas to comfort foods like scalloped potatoes and casseroles.

Hollandaise Sauce
Most notable for its role in the popular breakfast dish of eggs Benedict, hollandaise sauce incorporates lemon juice and clarified butter (butter stripped of its milk solids) into egg yolks through whisking at low temperatures. As with the other French mother sauces, it acts as the model for many other sauce recipes, including sauce Béarnise and several other French sauces. Possibly the most versatile of the sauces on this list, a good dollop of hollandaise sauce can be paired with most common items, ranging from eggs to both red and white meats, and even vegetables or baked potatoes.

Sauce Velouté
Velouté is the last of the white mother sauces, though it is by no means the least. It is formed by thickening a light stock, usually made from chicken, fish or veal, with a white roux once more. While essentially the least complex to make out of the mother sauces, the sheer number of derivative sauces from this base, with sauce allemande (originally also a mother sauce under the original 19th century categorization), sauce vin blanc (white wine sauce) and sauce suprêmeamong them, make sauce velouté one of the most important in both classical and modern French cuisine.

Brown Sauces

Sauce Espagnol
Sauce Espagnole

Sauce Espagnole
The most basic of brown sauces and the heaviest of the mother sauces, sauce espagnole is made by reducing a broth consisting of a brown roux (made by cooking clarified butter with flour for a longer duration instead of regular whole butter), veal or beef stock, browned bones, pieces of red meat and vegetables. During the cooking process, the connective tissues in the bones and meat are slowly dissolved to form a natural gelatinous thickening agent.Once fully reduced, this thick and flavorful concoction can then be used to create other rich, savoury sauces and sauce components – such as demi-glacebordelaise, Robert and chateaubriand – or even spooned gloriously over steaks and other red meats on its own.

Sauce Tomat
The French variation of a tomato sauce, sauce tomat is prepared by combining rendered pork fat from salt pork belly with a blend of carrots, onions, and tomatoes, a roux and veal (or alternative meat) stock, simmered in a medium-heat oven for two hours. The plethora of ingredients utilised results in the formation of an incredibly tasty sauce that is usually merged with other ingredients to form a range of other condiments including Creole, Spanish and Portuguese sauces.

French Cuisine Photo credit: avlxyz on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA and elisson1 on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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