Mother sauces of classical cuisine

Entering a culinary school truly requires a lot of hard work, coordination, and patience. Today’s lesson focused on whisking the basic sauces. It is an essential skill that any cook, who wants to thrive in the food industry, must have. Escoffier, who is well known for his great works and achievement back in the days, codified the recipes of French mother sauces. French mother sauces consist of five basic sauce: Béchamel, velouté, espagnol, tomato and hollandaise. Here I am whisking: Béarnaise, béchamel, chicken velouté, mayonnaise and tomato sauce.

WHAT IS MOTHER SAUCE/BASE SAUCE?

In the culinary industry, mother sauce is the starting point for making secondary sauces. Marie Antoine-Caréme invented the French mother sauces. It was organized into groups that serve as a base for most sauces. August Escoffier, known as “the king of chefs and the chef of kings” revolutionized the French mother sauces. He made a few little changes, but most importantly he simplified the recipes. As a foundation of western cooking, this must know by heart as it is often considered as one of the greatest tests of a chef’s skill.

WHAT IS ROUX?

Roux is a cooked mixture of equal amounts of flour and butter used as thickening agent to many sauces. Basically, a liquid needs to be thickened so that it coats well a food. For some sauces like tomato sauce, a thickening agent is not required. As it is thickened by slowly cooking and reducing the liquid. When the moisture evaporates it gives us a very nice, well-thickened tomato sauce. But some sauces need a little help, this is when the roux comes in handy.

Mix the butter and flour in equal amount, stirring constantly with a spoon and covering the whole bottom of the saucepan so that the roux is well mixed and not lumpy. Continue cooking until the flour is cooked and the roux becomes frothy. That is white roux. Continue cooking to achieve a darker colour for a golden and brown roux.

A white roux should, in theory, remain white. However, as it must be cooked long enough to get rid of its floury taste, continue cooking until it’s just beginning to take on a golden colour. Roux is normally blended with milk to make béchamel.

A blond roux mixed with veal or chicken stocks makes veal or chicken velouté. A white roux with fish stocks makes a fish velouté.

A brown roux is used to thicken espagnole and demi-glace sauces. It also provide a nutty flavour. All in all, roux differ in coloration but all serves as thickening agent.

SAUCES

Béarnaise: 

Reduction and egg yolk whisk together in a water bath until a creamy mixture is achieved. Whisk in clarified butter slowly, let it blend with the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, a bit of lemon juice and chopped tarragon.

Recipe:

Shallots 15g, finely chopped. Tarragon 5g, roughly chopped. 1/2 lemon. 200g Clarified butter. Egg yolks 50g, white wine 20g. White wine vinegar 10g. Pinch of salt and peppercorn.

Béchamel:

Glaze the onion in butter until translucent. Don’t go too far with the heat to avoid browning the onion and butter. Add and cook the flour, add a bit of milk, whisk and repeat. Add bay leaf and clove for flavour and simmer again for 15 minutes to let the flour cook through. Strain out the onion when done.

Recipe:

Milk 2.5 dl. Flour 15g. Butter 18g. Onions 25g dice. Bay leave 1pc. Cloves 1pc. Pinch of ground nutmeg.

Chicken velouté:

Using a blond roux makes a really good velvety sauce supreme. Whisk in stock to the roux slowly in medium heat. Add cream, if it becomes too thick add a bit of stock to loosen the texture. If it gets liquidy turn up the heat to thicken up the sauce. Continue stirring until it’s thick again. Let sit to simmer on low heat, stir once in a while. Season with salt and pepper or herbs.

 Recipe:

1 1/2 cups white stock (veal, chicken, or fish) – white stock just means the bones were not roasted. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. 3 tablespoons flour. A dash of cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Mayonnaise:

Add egg yolk, pepper, mustard, and whisk. Slowly add oil and let it incorporate until the mixture gets stiffer and stiffer. Season with salt and add red wine vinegar, whisk again.

Recipe:

Egg yolk 20g. Mustard 6g. Oil 25 dl. Salt 3.5g. Pepper 5g. Red wine vinegar 8g.

Tomato sauce:

Glaze Matignon in butter, add the garlic, bacon and diced tomatoes and glaze again/stew. Add tomato paste and continue glazing. Fill up with vegetable stock and bring to a boiling point. Add spices, season and let it simmer for half an hour. Occasionally skim off, season with salt and pepper. Add raw sugar to balance out the acidity in the sauce.

Recipe: 

Unsalted butter 80g. Matignon mixed 150 g. Garlic peeled, chopped 5g. Smoked bacon 30g, dice. Fresh tomatoes, deseeded and dice 800g. Tomato paste 250g. Vegetable stocks 700g. Mixed spices 1 sachet. Raw sugar 5g. Salt & pepper to season.

GOODLUCK!

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