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How To: Sauce

Comments Off on How To: Sauce 06 May 2011

The word “sauce” is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing.  Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial.  Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn’t last long.  Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of tainted foods.

Mother Sauces –

Also called Grand Sauces. These are the five most basic sauces that every cook should master. Antonin Careme, founding father of French “grande cuisine,” came up with the methodology in the
early 1800’s by which hundreds of sauces would be categorized under five Mother Sauces, and there are infinite possibilities for variations, since the sauces are all based on a few basic formulas.  Sauces are one of the fundamentals of cooking. Know the basics and you’ll be able to prepare a multitude of recipes like a professional.  Learn how to make the basic five sauces and their most common derivatives. The five Mother Sauces are:
  • Bechamel Sauce (white)
  • Veloute Sauce (blond)
  • Brown (demi-glace) or Espagnole Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce (butter)
  • Tomato Sauce (red)

 

DEFINING THE FIVE MOTHER SAUCES

Béchamel, the classic white sauce, was named after its inventor, Louis XIV’s steward Louis de Béchamel. The king of all sauces, it is often referred to as a cream sauce because of its appearance and is probably
used most frequently in all types of dishes. Made by stirring milk into a butter-flour roux, the thickness of the sauce depends on the proportion of flour and butter to milk. The proportions for a thin sauce would be 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour per 1 cup of milk; a medium sauce would use 2 tablespoons each of butter and flour; a thick sauce, 3 tablespoons each.

Velouté is a stock-based white sauce. It can be made from chicken, veal or fish stock. Enrichments such as egg yolks or cream are sometimes also added.

Espagnole, or brown sauce, is traditionally made of a rich meat stock, a mirepoix of browned vegetables (most often a mixture of diced onion, carrots and celery), a nicely browned roux, herbs and sometimes tomato paste.

Hollandaise and Mayonnaise are two sauces that are made with an emulsion of egg yolks and fat.  Hollandaise is made with butter, egg yolks and lemon juice, usually in a double boiler to prevent overheating, and served warm. It is generally used to embellish vegetables, fish and egg dishes, such as the classic Eggs Benedict. 

Mayonnaise is a thick, creamy dressing that’s an emulsion of vegetable oil, egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar and seasonings. It is widely used as a spread, a dressing and as a sauce. It’s also used as the base for such mixtures as Tartar Sauce, Thousand Island Dressing, Aïoli, and Remoulade.

Vinagrette is a sauce made of a simple blend of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper (usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar). More elaborate variations can include any combination of spices, herbs, shallots, onions, mustard, etc. It is generally used to dress salad greens and other cold vegetable, meat or fish dishes.

Aioli (eye-YO-lee) – (French) The French word for garlic is “ail.” Sometimes called the “butter of Provence.” Aioli is garlic-flavored mayonnaise made from pounded cloves of garlic, egg yolks, oil, and seasoning. Just before it is served, lemon juice and a little cold water are added. It is served as a sauce for a variety of garnishes and main courses.

History: It is believed to have originated in Provence, France. As the landscape of the Provence area is not suited for cows as other areas of France, more for sheep, goats, and olive trees, butter is not a
common ingredient in Provencal food. See “mayonnaise.”

Béarnaise sauce (bair-naz) – It is a variation of hollandaise sauce.  White wine or vinegar, diced shallots, tarragon, and peppercorns are cooked together and reduced and sieved and then added to hollandaise sauce. The spice tarragon is what gives it a distinctive taste. The sauce is served with beef and some  shellfish.

History: Chef Jules Colette at the Paris restaurant called Le Pavillon Henri IV in the 19th century invented Béarnaise sauce in Paris, France. It was named Béarnaise in Henry’s honor as he was born in Bearn, France (a region in the Pyreness mountain range in southwest France). It is said that every chef at the restaurant tried to claim the recipe as his own.

Béchamel Sauce (bay-shah-mel) – As the housewife in the 17th Century did not have the luxury of modern refrigeration, they were wary of using milk in their recipes. Peddlers were known to sell watered down or rancid produce. Basically, only the rich or royalty could use milk in their sauces.

In France, it is one of the four basic sauces called “meres” or “mother sauces” from which all other sauces derive. It is also know as “white sauce.” It is a smooth, white sauce made from a roux made with flour, boiled milk, and butter. It is usually served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables. It forms the basis of many other sauces.

Chasseur Sauce – Chasseur is French for hunter. It is a hunter-style brown sauce consisting of mushrooms, shallots, and white wine (sometimes tomatoes and parsley). It is most often served with game and other meats. Chasseur, or “Hunter Style” was meant for badly shot game or tough old birds. The birds were always cut up to remove lead shot or torn parts, and often cooked all day on the back of the range if they were old or tough. Originally the veggies used were ones hunters would find while they hunted. This can be scaled up.

History: It is thought that Chasseur sauce was invented by Duke Philippe De Mornay (1549-1623), Governor of Saumur, and Lord of the Plessis Marly in the 1600s. He was a great protestant writer and called the protestant pope. It is said that he also invented Mornay Sauce, Sauce Béchamel, Sauce Lyonnaise, and Sauce Porto.

Marinara (mah-ree-NAH-rah) – Means “sailor” in Italian (sailor style of tomato sauce). A spicy, quickly cooked pasta sauce of Italian origins but far more popular in American restaurants featuring southern Italian cuisines than in most of Italy.

Veloute Sauce (veh-loo-TAY) – Also called sauce blanche grasse or fat white sauce, rich white sauce. One of the five “mother sauces.” It is a stock-based white sauce that can be made from chicken, veal, or fish stock thickened with white roux.

Allemande Sauce – Veal veloute with egg yolk and cream liaison. 

Supreme Sauce – Chicken veloute reduced with heavy cream

Vin Blanc Sauce – Fish veloute with shallots, butter, and fines herbs.

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