Cooking Louisiana  -  Sauces
Sauces are not often thought of as the main dish, but, you'll surely never forget the main dish that has the perfect sauce on it! So let's do a short study on sauces and maybe YOU can impress your friends with a "Great Sauce"!

Sauces were perfected by the French, and, in the 19th Century the French Chef Antonin Carême defined the four basic (first four below), or "mother" sauces. A fifth sauce was added later. 

Sauces (not gravy) are pure thickened liquids derived from stocks and seasonings that are usually either brown or white or shades in between. Red sauces can be included in this group. A sauce should; complement flavor, moisten, insulate and decorate, or any combination of these. Thickening agents are usually roux (flour and oil cooked to a specific color), kneaded butter-flour, heavy cream, starch (cornstarch or arrowroot) and egg yolk (tempered).

The Mother Sauces are known as:

1. Espagnole [ehs-pah-NYOHL]
2. Velouté (veh-loo-TAY)
3. Béchamel (bay-shah-mehl)
4. Allemande (ah-leh-MAHND)
5. Hollandaise {HOL-uhn-daze)
6. Tomato

There is argument over this as I've seen Allemande omitted, and Hollandaise and Tomato Sauce listed as Mother Sauces. Whatever the case they are all the base sauces from which other sauces are created, so we must understand they all exist in the sauce world.

For simplicity's' sake let's just shortly define each one. We'll get deeper into each one later.

The "Mother" sauces are the base or beginning of other sauces. In other words you would make the Mother Sauce, then, go on to make other sauces.

1. Espagnole (brown)

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

2. Velouté (blond)

Very simply, a white stock thickened with a white roux. The stock can be made from chicken, veal, or fish.

3. Béchamel (white)

Milk thickened with a white roux.

4. Allemande (white)

Velouté thickened with egg yolks.

5. Hollandaise (white)

Made with clarified butter, egg and lemon juice.

6. Tomato Sauce (red)

A red sauce made with tomato products.

Espagnole and Velouté start with plain stocks made from bones. Read more on Stocks.


You can continue to learn about each sauce by clicking on the links above.