Hello! My name is Jenni and I have been a member of the Daring Kitchen since 2007. I first joined the Daring Kitchen because I loved how each month we learned new recipes from around the world; but we also learned new techniques that were important to being a cook.
If you happen to go to cooking school, glance through a cooking magazine or watch the Food Network, you will find that knowing how to make sauces is vitally important. Sauces have been used in cooking throughout history – from as far back as the Romans who would use sauces to completely disguise the taste of meat (and probably the freshness of the dish). Today, sauces are more refined, but still help to elevate and finish a meal by adding richness, flavor and moisture. Julia Child says in Mastering the Art of French Cooking “ sauces are the splendor and glory of cooking, yet there is nothing serious or mysterious about making them. These are indispensable to the home cook”.
The 5 mother sauces were so named in the early 19th Century by Antonin Careme, a French chef. These are the basic sauces that you can make, and from each of them you can make almost 200 other variations of sauces. In fact, you have probably made some already without even knowing it!
Each mother sauce is made with just a few ingredients, so it is very important that you use the freshest ingredients and of highest quality that you can here, because the flavor of your ingredients will deepen and intensify to create the flavors of your sauce. If you do not have time to make your own stock, then buy then best you can. The key to making good sauces is also to go slowly, focus on what you are doing (meaning don’t leave the stove and cook four other things at the same time) and have good control of your heat. When you add the liquids you should add them in small amounts and incorporate them completely before adding any more. Another important tip is to season sparingly while cooking, and taste, taste, taste!
Béchamel Sauce (pronounced Besh-a-mel) is also known as white sauce. It is made from a roux of flour and butter, milk, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. It is often served with pasta, vegetable based dishes and in casseroles. Some variations include:
- Cream Sauce – adding cream and sometimes fresh herbs
- Cheese Sauce – adding cheddar and dry mustard (think Mac and cheese) and goes great with vegetables, pasta or fish.
- Soubise Sauce – with the additions of finely diced onions and butter (sometimes crushed tomatoes are added to this as well). A great sauce for vegetables, eggs or chicken.
- Mornay Sauce – adding Gruyere, Parmesan and butter, and is a great addition to eggs, vegetables, pasta or fish.
- Nantua Sauce – the addition of crayfish or shrimp, butter and cream, typically served with fish and seafood.
- Mustard Sauce – addition of mustard to béchamel and goes well with vegetables, eggs or chicken
*Note: If adding cheese to your béchamel, be sure to use real cheese. “American Cheese” and Velveeta are more cheese products and not a real cheese, and they will not work well in this application. The same goes for pre-shredded cheese, which are typically coated with a cornstarch or anti clumping substance, which will not perform well for the consistency of your sauce.
Veloute Sauce (pronounced Veh-loo-tay) is a sauce that is very similar to béchamel, except that the milk has been replaced by chicken, veal, or vegetable stock (think chicken and turkey gravy!) It is most often served alongside “lighter” chicken or fish dishes, as well as vegetables. Depending on which kind of stock is used, this sauce can be turned into:
- Supreme Sauce – chicken veloute with the addition of cream and white wine
- Normandy Sauce – fish veloute with mushrooms and sometimes egg yolks, great over fish and seafood.
- Vin Blanc Sauce – chicken veloute with the addition of heavy cream and a dry white wine
- Allemande Sauce – chicken or veal veloute with egg yolks, heavy cream & lemon juice
- Bercy Sauce – Fish veloute with shallots, white wine, lemon juice and parsley and great over fish and seafood dishes.
- Hungarian Sauce – with addition of onion, paprika and white wine and great over sautéed chicken.
- Mushroom Sauce – adding sautéed mushrooms to Sauce Supreme, great over poultry and veal.
- Aurora Sauce – Adding a tomato puree to a Supreme Sauce, and great over eggs, vegetables and pasta.
- Poulette Sauce – taking an Allemande sauce and adding sautéed mushrooms, chopped parsley and lemon juice, great for poultry dishes.
- Shrimp Sauce – adding shrimp butter and cayenne pepper to the Vin Blanc Sauce, great over shrimp and seafood dishes.
- Herbed Seafood Sauce – This sauce is a Vin Blanc with fresh parsley, tarragon and chives, great for fish and seafood dishes
Espagnole Sauce (pronounced ess-pahn-yol) is also known as brown sauce. It is made with a roux that is cooked a little longer (until it starts to smell nutty and look golden brown) and beef stock as well as tomato paste and a mireoux (a finely chopped mixture of onion, celery and carrot). This is generally not served as is, but is used in one of its variations, and generally goes great with roasted red meats.
- Demi-glaze – where the sauce is cooked down to an almost syrup
- Bordelaise sauce – enriched with red wine, herbs and shallots
- Mushroom sauce – with the addition of mushrooms, shallots and a splash of sherry and pairs well with roasted and grilled meats.
- Red Wine Sauce – can be made with sautéed shallots and the addition of Madeira wine (and called Madeira Sauce), Port Wine (and called Port Wine Sauce,
- Robert Sauce – addition of diced onion, butter, white wine, and a dash of Dijon mustard. Great for grilled pork.
- Lyonnaise Sauce – a demi-glaze with onions and white wine vinegar and pairs well with roasted meats, grilled pork, poultry, and even grilled sausages.
- Charcuterie Sauce – a demi-glaze with onions, mustard, white wine, chopped conichons (a type of small pickle). Great for grilled pork.
- Chasseur Sauce – also called hunter sauce and perfect for game meats, it is made with sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and a white wine reduction added to a demi-glace
- Bercy Sauce – reducing red wine and chopped shallots in a demi-glace and pairs well with roasts and steaks.
Hollandaise Sauce (pronounced Ha-lon-daze) is a rich, creamy sauce that is made through the emulsion of egg yolks and butter. This sauce is the trickiest of the mother sauces to make. If you find your sauce breaks, try adding a few teaspoons of warm water; this can sometimes help recreate the emulsion.
- Maltaise Sauce – adding blood orange zest and juice, mostly served with asparagus or broccoli
- Bearssoise Sauce – is hollandaise with lime juice and zest added
- Mousseline Sauce – lightened with a stiffly whipped cream or egg whites, this is also sometimes called Chantilly Sauce and served with seafood, vegetables or poultry. It can also be sweetened with served on crepes or other desserts.
- Béarnaise Sauce – incorporating a reduction of tarragon, vinegar and black peppercorns and is typically served with grilled steak.
- Choron Sauce – adding a tomato paste to Béarnaise sauce, often served with grilled steak.
- Bavaroise Sauce – added cream, horseradish and thyme
- Crème Fleurette Sauce – with crème fraiche added
- Noisette Sauce– a variation made with browned butter
- Dijon Sauce – adding Dijon mustard
- Foyor Sauce – a Béarnaise sauce with the addition of a reduction of brown stock. This is typically served with grilled steaks, fish or vegetables.
*Note: there are other emulsion sauces that are not considered “mother sauces”. These include mayonnaise, which is made the same way as a hollandaise except that it is made with cold ingredients. There are also sauces where an emulsifier such as Dijon mustard is combined with oil to create the vinaigrette family of sauces. And there are also butter sauces, made by melting butter until the desired color has been achieved and then mixing it with the desired flavorings.
Classic Tomato Sauce was a later entry to the “mother sauces”. This sauce differs from the “Italian” tomato sauce in that it consists of salt belly pork, onions, bay leaves, thyme, a roux, garlic, and spices. This must be made with ripe tomatoes that have lots of flavor. Unless it happens to be peak tomato season where you live, I suggest using a good brand of canned tomatoes, or else your sauce might be fairly bland. You can turn this sauce into
- Creole Sauce – with addition of herbs, celery, onions and hot sauce
- Spanish Sauce – addition of sautéed onions, green peppers, mushrooms and garlic
- Portuguese Sauce – with the addition of sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes and parsley.
- Provencale Sauce – addition of sautéed onions, garlic, capers, olives and Herbs de Provence. Often served over meat, poultry and fish.
- Milanaise – with the addition of mushrooms, butter and cooked ham.
Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cuisine by Julia Child and Emerill Ligasse,
Blog-checking lines: This month, the Daring Cooks got a little saucy! Jenni from the Gingered Whisk taught us the basics of how to make the five mother-sauces and encouraged us to get creative with them, creating a wide variety of delicious, fresh sauces in our very own kitchens.
September 14, 2014
*Note for alternative diets: For each sauce you can try to substitute the butter with either olive oil or coconut oil, and the stock can be substituted with vegetable stock. Here are some vegan alternatives for the sauces. Please note that I have not tried them out!
•Béchamel that uses vegetable stock and olive oil: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/health/nutrition/28recipehealth.html?_…
**If you need a refresher on Roux, please see this very detailed post about it http://saltisyourfriend.com/2013/03/10/the-4-stages-of-roux-how-to-use-t…
***If you don’t have time to make your own stock, or don’t have some you have previously made handy, there is a great trick to doctor up store bought stock. For every pint of packaged stock, add 3 Tablespoons of chopped carrots, celery and onions as well (as well as a spoonful of tomato paste for beef broth), a bay leaf, fresh parsley and ½ teaspoon of thyme. Add a generous splash of good wine (white for chicken/vegetable and red for beef) and simmer for 30 minutes.
Mandatory Items: You are required to try at least one of the 5 mother sauces, one that you have not had previous experience with, but I encourage you to try as many sauces and variations as you can handle!
Variations allowed: You may use any sauce you like, and any variation of that sauce that you want (or as many variations as you can stand to make!) You may use this sauce any way you like, be as creative as you can!
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Measuring cups and spoons
2 cups (250 ml) cold milk
1 tbsp (15 ml) (15 gm) (1/2 0z) butter
2 tbsp (30 ml) (15gm) (1/2 0z) flour
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
When the butter begins to bubble, stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until a paste forms.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to turn slightly golden, about 3-4 minutes.
Whisk in the milk about ½ cup at a time, making sure that the addition is fully incorporated before adding the next addition of milk.
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes, continuing to whisk.
Whisk in the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
The sauce is now ready to use as is or to use in one of its variations.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Medium heavy non-stick saucepan
4 Tablespoons (60 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) butter
½ cup (120 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) flour
5 cups (1 ¼ litres) white stock, cold (chicken, veal, fish or vegetable)
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a heavy saucepan heated to medium heat, melt the butter.
2. When the butter is just melted, add the flour in and stir with the wooden spoon until incorporated.
3. Cook for 7-9 minutes, or until it begins to bubble, stirring continuously and you have achieved a blonde roux (the mixture is just starting to develop color and has a slight nutty flavor).
4. Gradually whisk in the cold stock, about ½ cup at a time, whisking each addition until fully incorporated before adding the next amount of stock.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
6. Summer until it is reduced to 4 cups, about 20 minutes.
7. The sauce is now ready for you to make whichever variation you choose.
Preparation time: 1 hour 15 minutes
3-quart (3 liters ) saucepan
measuring cups and spoons
knife and cutting board
fine mesh sieve
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) unsalted butter
¼ cup (30 ml) (27 gm) (1 oz) all purpose flour
4 cups (1 liter) beef stock, hot
¼ cup (60 ml) (55gm ) (2oz) canned tomato puree
2 large garlic coves, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the carrot and onion until golden, about 7-8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low.
Add the flour and stir constantly, until medium brown, about 6-10 minutes.
Add the hot stock gradually, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Add the tomato puree, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leave and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and cook at barely a simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced to 3 cups, about 45 minutes.
Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids.
Preparation time: 13-18 minutes
Measuring cups and spoons
1 cup (2 sticks) (8 oz) (225 gm) unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
4-6 Tablespoons (60-90 ml) fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper
1.Fill the jar of the blender with hot water and set aside.
2.In a medium saucepan heated to medium-low, melt the butter until it begins to foam, about 10-15 minutes.
3.Drain the blender and dry well.
4.Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the jar of the blender.
5.Cover and blend on high speed for 2 seconds.
6.With the motor still running, gradually and slowly add in the melted butter in a slow, steady stream through the whole in the blender lid, leaving the milky solids of the butter behind.
7.Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve immediately.
French Tomato Sauce:
Preparation time: 2 hours
Measuring cups and spoons
Immersion or hand blender
Fine mesh sieve
5 ounces (150 gm) salt pork or bacon
4 Tablespoons (60 ml) (55 gm) (2 oz) butter
1 cup (250 ml) (125 gm) (4 ½ oz) chopped carrots
1 cup (250 ml) (150 gm) (5 oz) chopped onion
¼ cup (6 0ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) flour
4 cups (1 litre) chicken or vegetable stock
6 ½ pounds (3 kg) fresh, ripe, flavorful tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced (or 56 oz petite diced canned)
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1 ham bone
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.
Cook the bacon until slightly crispy.
Add the carrots and onions, cover and slowly cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour turns golden.
Slowly add the stock, stirring constantly until incorporated.
Add in the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, ham bone and thyme.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
Remove the ham bone and bay leaf.
Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper.
Carefully puree with a hand mixer or in a blender, and strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Béchamel can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days, covered with a cling wrap that is touching the surface of the sauce.
Veloute and Espagnole can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, but needs to be brought back to a boil while reheating.
Hollandaise should be used immediately.
Tomato sauce can be stored covered in the fridge for 4-5 days, or frozen as well.
•Kitchen Geekery: http://www.kitchengeekery.com/articles/food/the-five-mother-sauces
•Salt Is Your Friend: http://saltisyourfriend.com/2013/03/12/the-five-french-mother-sauces/
•Edible Austin: http://www.edibleaustin.com/index.php/food/techniques/1151-the-mother-sa…
•Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child