In previous posts, I talked about how to make and use stocks, and about different soup types. Today, I'll be talking about sauces.
Sauces are the common thread that tie a dish together, adding bags of flavour and moisture to what could otherwise be a dry or bland mouthful. In the early 20th century, French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, referred to by press as "The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings", modernized sauces in classic French cuisine into what we now call "The Mother Sauces".
Also called a White Sauce, bechamel sauce is simple to make, since it doesn't require stock. It is simply milk that has been thickened with a roux. Roux is made by cooking equal parts of butter and flour together, and added to sauces and brought to a boil.
A velouté sauce is simple, like a bechamel, but uses stock from unroasted bones instead of milk. A roux is used to thicken the stock to be used for soups, such as my mushroom velouté, or a variety of sauces, such as:
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Or Spanish Sauce. Despite the name, it doesn't have much to do with Spain. The story, as told by Escoffier Online, is that at the wedding of Louis XIII to Anne, the Spanish cooks insisted on putting Spanish tomatoes onto the gravy for a more well-rounded flavour. The sauce was a hit, and the rest is history.
Espagnole is a brown sauce flavoured with tomato and brown roux. A brown roux is made from animal fat and flour, then roasted in the oven. The fat comes skimming the top of stock made from roasted beef bones. One part fat to two parts flour is combined and spread into a baking sheet and baked at 140-150°C (285-300°F) for 1-1.5 hours.
Hollandaise is probably the most well-known of the mother sauces, not only for its use in the popular Eggs Benedict, but for its reputation for being finicky. Hollandaise, like mayonnaise, is an emulsion. Egg yolks, which contain water, mixed with oil by itself would separate. When acid (lemon, vinegar) is added together with the whisking motion, the mixture is able to blend more freely and stabilize. For a more sciency explanation of what an emulsion is, and how it works, you can check out Stella Culinary's explanation here. Hollandaise is the basis for:
The best tip I can give for making hollandaise/bearnaise sauce is that all the ingredients should be the same temperature when you combine them for the highest chance of them sticking together without splitting. Find a great recipe for hollandaise here.
Some of these sauces are far more difficult to master than others, like the hollandaise sauces, but with practice and patience you can pack loads of flavour and moisture into any dish with just one good sauce.
Hey there! My name is Lea, and I'm a Canadian Culinary student trying to survive chef life in Denmark. I want to share my journey, and some great food and experiences with others. I believe that anyone can be quite chefy!