Cooking Louisiana  -  Espagnole Sauce
Espagnole Sauce (Mother Sauce)

The definition states; "a rich reduced brown stock with tomatoes and a mirepoix of browned vegetables thickened by a brown roux".

The result of preparation is a rich brown sauce. All large ingredients are strained to render nothing but liquid. This is a "Mother Sauce", so, with this base sauce you make other sauces. Variations (or children) of the Espagnole are sauces such as Demi-glace, Bordelaise, Madeira, and Mushroom. All are described below.

To give you an idea of how the sauce is done here is one of the many recipes.

1 gallon rich brown stock (hot)
12 oz. onion (rough chop)
8 oz. celery (rough chop)
8 oz. carrots (rough chop)
8 oz. butter or shortening
8 oz. bread flour
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme
1 cup tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the rough garnish in butter slightly in a sauce pot. Add the flour, making a brown roux, and cook for 5 minutes. Let the roux cool slightly, add hot stock, tomato puree, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, stir with a whip until smooth and thick. Simmer for 2 hours. - Strain through a china cap, using a ladle to force as much of the vegetable as possible. Parsley and garlic may also be added.

The derivative Sauces are; Demi-glace, Bordelaise, Madeira, and Mushroom.

You know the base sauce is brown, so the derivatives of it will also be brown.

Let's cover them one at a time briefly describing each.. (We won't do recipe's here as you can find them all over the internet.)

Demi-Glace (means "half-glaze")

You already have seen a glaze such as ham glaze for Thanksgiving. It's a very thick sauce. Demi-Glace will be thick but only half as thick (in general) as a glaze. It is 1/2 beef or veal stock and 1/2 Espagnole sauce, reduced by 50%. It sounds simple but the classic Demi-Glace takes around 25 hours to make! Restaurants generally don't do this anymore, they buy pre-made sauce usually in a powdered or paste form! In general the sauce should coat a spoon and slowly run off a plate when tilted. Remember this one... you'll see why later!

Demi-Glace is generally used for beef, veal, chicken, wild game and even vegetables. Demi-Glace is also used in combination with other ingredients to make even more sauce variations. Remember, a sauce can be used as is, or, can be used with other ingredients that may require the texture and flavor of the base. [Derivatives of Demi-Glace]

Demi-Glace is Available at...

Bordelaise Sauce (means "of Bordeaux")

Similar to the Demi-glace, a bordelaise is a sauce that traditionally incorporates wine, bone marrow, parsley, shallots and other herbs. Demi-Glace is often used as the base which gives the right thickness. When looking at various recipes you will notice short-cut methods that use plain stock and flour as the thickener. Know up front that the flavor depth achieved by using Demi-Glace is just not going to be there if you don't use it!

Madeira Sauce

Madeira sauce is an Espagnole mixed with Madeira wine and reduced. I've also seen Demi-glace used. The sauce is used in many meat recipes and has a slight wine taste to it. It is also somewhat a "lighter" sauce, it has just a little thickness to it. When doing a search for this sauce recipe, notice that you'll sometimes actually be making a quick version of Espagnole as the starter.

Mushroom Sauce

Most of you are familiar with the mushroom sauce. It, as the others, begins with the Espagnole and adds the flavor of mushrooms. The secret of this sauce is the selection and combinations of mushrooms used. Along with the Madeira sauce, this sauce is not too heavy.


These sauces are generally used for beef, lamb, pork and some chicken and seafood dishes. All can be varied to your taste which is why great restaurants have great sauces.

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