Throughout the history of cuisine; sauces have been used as a basis for many regional styles of cuisine. A sauce is defined as a liquid or semi-solid food served on or in the process of preparing other foods. Sauces are created to accompany other foods and make them look, smell, and taste better. They are easily digested and nutritionally beneficial. Sauces are not served by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, aromas, and visual appeals to a finished dish.
Today there are many different compound or small sauces that can be seen worldwide, however these small sauces are linked to and are derived from the five classified mother sauces. Two French chefs that contributed to the creation of these fundamental sauces are, Marie-Antoine Creme; who was responsible for classifying the sauces into recognizable procedures, and Aguste Escoffier who refined the classified sauces into “Families” that are still recognized today. Careme was known as the king of cooks and the cook of kings.
This is because famous French diplomats, and royalty such as, Prince de Talleyrand, King George the IV & Tsar Alexander of Russia. He worked his way up from a middle class cook to a well known respected chef. Careme was a master of French, Grande cuisine which was regional to his home in Paris. He was one of the first chefs to create dishes that used architecture in his presentation to visually please the eye. He was known to be the first chef to standardize the use of a roux for a thickening agent in the sauces. Careme was responsible for creating a system that classified four of the five mother sauces.
These include: Allemande- stock with egg yolk & lemon juice, Bechamel- flour and milk, Espagnole – brown stock; and Veloute — white stock. These four foundation sauces were called grandes sauces. Two of them have a record of two hundred years behind them prior to Careme; they are the “bechamel” and the “mayonnaise”. They have lasted so long, not only because they are very good, but also because they are so adaptable and provide a fine basis for a considerable number of other sauces. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that carame’s classification was altered from the Grande cuisine by Auguste Escoffier.
Escoffier simplified the profusion of flavors, and garnishes derived from Careme’s work. He simplified the classification so it could be recognized throughout the culinary region that used the fundamentals of the sauces. Escoffier eliminated allemande since it is a derivative of veloute. Hollandaise & mayonnaise (Emulsification sauces) took its place with the similar concept of thickening with egg yolks. He also added Tomato to encompass tomato based dishes. Tomatoes grew in popularity in Europe since Carme’s early Grande cuisine.
Even though careme was known for classifying the four main sauces with procedures, Escoffier simplified these from Grande cuisine to the classic cuisine. Both these authors and chefs were known to influence the fundamentals of the cooking world. The mother sauces that Escoffier recognized are Bechamel (white), Veloute (blonde), Espangnole (brown), Tomato (red), and Hollandaise (emulsification sauce). The five mother sauces are still used today, the influence spread from France, to British and Italian cuisine. For example brown sauce is highly popular in gravies and thick stews in the British cuisine.
Ware as the Italians are known to combine tomato or bechamel with their pasta dishes. Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn’t last long. Combined with a scarce food source, Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of potentially tainted foods. The Grande sauces are the foundation of the entire classic cuisine of hot sauces. The classic five mother sauces can be seasoned and garnished to create a wide variety of small sauces. These five leading sauces differ from one another by the liquids and thickeners used to create them.
The Bechamel family was named from its creator, Louis de Bechameil who cooked for King Louis XIV of France. Bechameil had invented Bechamel Sauce when trying to come up with a new way of serving and eating dried cod. Only royalty would use milk in their recopies. Originally it was made by adding heavy cream to a thick veal veloute. However today it is usually made without veal stock. It’s also known as “white sauce. ” It is a smooth, white sauce made from a white roux made with flour, butter and boiled milk. It is usually found served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables.
It forms the basis of many other sauces. For example cheese, cream sauce, Mornay, nantua, and Soubise are all made from Bechamel. Bechamel sauce is the easiest mother sauce to prepare. A properly constructed Bechamel is creamy, and smooth with no lumps or graininess. You must use a stainless steel pan to cook in, if an aluminum pan is used it can discolor the white sauce to a murky grey. The flavor of the onion and clove used to season the sauce should be noticeable, but not strong enough to overwhelm the milk base. In similarity the sauce should not taste like the roux.
Bechamel should have a sheen white color, and should be thick enough to coat the foods lightly in on the dish. Classically Served With, Eggs, Fish, Steamed Poultry, Steamed Vegetables, Pastas, Veal Veloute sauce is a stock-based white sauce that can be made from a light chicken, veal, or fish stock thickened with a blonde roux. The blonde roux is responsible for the slightly off-white color that is darker than the white sauce. The type of stock that the Veloute is made with, usually co-insides with the type of small sauce it will produce. Veloute made with chicken or veal stock will produce Allemande and supreme sauce.
The final product will be as good as the stock that you started with. If it is made from fish stock then the small sauces can produce Common Secondary Sauces: Sauce Vin Blanc (White Wine Sauce), Sauce Supreme, Sauce Allemande, Sauce Poulette, Sauce Bercy, Sauce Normandy Classically Served With: Eggs, Fish, Steamed Poultry, Steamed Vegetables, Pastas, Veal A correctly made Veloute should taste like the stock that was used to produce it. The sauce should be smooth and lump free. Espagnole or brown sauce has a strong taste and is rarely used directly on food.
As a mother sauce, however, it serves as the starting point for many small sauces. This sauce is very rich because of the brown stock used to create it. Roasted bones, mirepoix, and tomato puree is what gives this mother sauce its deep color and flavor. It is usually made into two sub sauces that create the other small sauces. Demi-glace is half brown stock & half Espagnole reduced by half, sometimes added with sherry wine. The classic French version of demi glace requires more than 25 hours of cooking time. Properly prepared, this rich-flavored brown sauce yields a shiny glaze and smooth texture.
Classically Served With Roasted meats, especially beef, duck, veal, or lamb. Demi glace is often served with beef and veal and frequently used as a base for soups and other sauces. Jus Lie is a brown stock thickened with cornstarch or arrowroot, the consistency is slightly lighter than demi-glace. These two sub-sauces produce Robert sauce, Piquant, mushroom, and bordelaise. Mushroom sauce contains Espagnole sauce and mushrooms. Bordelaise sauce contains Espagnole sauce with red wine, shallots and herbs. Lyonnaise sauce: Espagnole sauce with chopped onions, parsley and white wine.
The Tomato sauce is the most popular mother sauce seen frequently in Italian cuisine. Tomato sauce is perhaps the most versatile mother sauce. Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from the New World by explorers in the 16th century. They were not immediately embraced because they were considered poisonous. Tomatoes were grown as “curiosities,” not as food. Tomatoes grew easily in Spain and Italy and were widely used in Southern European dishes. Tomatoes slowly spread throughout Northern Europe, this incline in popularity encouraged Escoffier to add a tomato based sauce.
Classic tomato sauce is made with fresh Tomatoes, tomato puree, Vegetable mirepoix, and seasoned white stock thickened with roux. However the thickening agent may vary by region. Tomatoes have a rich flavor, high liquid content, very soft flesh which breaks down easily, and the right composition to thicken into a sauce when they are cooked without the need of thickening agents. All of these qualities make them ideal for simple and appealing sauces. The simplest tomato sauces consist just of chopped tomato flesh with the skins and seeds optionally removed, cooked in a little olive oil and simmered until it loses its raw flavor, and seasoned.
Tomato sauce can have a lot of seasonings, some range from kitchen to kitchen these include, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, and sometimes sugar. A gastrique (made by caramelizing sugar & deglazing pan with vinegar) can be added to reduce the acid content of a sauce. Tomato sauce can be found accompanying meats, fish, and pasta Tomato sauce is generally lumpy compared to the other mother sauces because of the puree requirement. Small sauces produced from tomato are, Creole, Spanish, and milanaise. This type of sauce was added by Escoffier.
Marinara is an Italian-American term for a simple tomato sauce with herbs—mostly parsley and basil. However In Italy, marinara refers to a seafood-based sauce or food and does not imply that tomato is included. Escoffier, when he altered the four classic sauces to the five mother sauces, he still recognized Careme’s basic vinaigrette. Vinaigrette 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. Allemande sauce was classified by Careme; it was based on veloute sauce thickened with egg yolks. Later when Escoffier refined the Grande cuisine and the four family sauces he added hollandaise sauce, also believed to be similar to mayonnaise, both of these are known to be an emulsified sauces. An emulsion is formed when unbendable ingredients like water and fat, are mixed to form a creamy state by mixing, beating, blending, stirring or shaking.
These techniques break the fat content into microscopic pieces that are coated by egg yolks and then can be dispersed and blended with the liquid. The Emulsified butter sauces must be held at 41 degrees to 130 degrees if the temperature rise above 150 degrees the eggs will cook and the sauce will break because cooked eggs lose their ability to emulsify. If temperatures fall below 45 degrees the butter will solidify and make the sauce unsalvageable. These emulsion mixtures are usually temporary & is suggested to me made fresh to order. Hollandaise is constructed with water, egg yolks, clarified butter, lemon juice & vinegar.
Hollandaise is the toughest mother sauce to make because it is very tedious, and must be time & temperature controlled. A properly made hollandaise is smooth and buttery, pale yellow color, lighter consistency than mayonnaise. It should be lump free and show no signs of separation. A hollandaise sauce that has broke is usually not worth saving because the cooked eggs cannot be taken out, and will result in a lumpy separation. Hollandaise is usually found on grilled meats or fish, the most popular recipe is eggs Benedict . Like all mother sauces hollandaise produces smaller sauces such as, Bearnaise, Choron, Foyot, and Grimrod .
Marie-Antoine Creme; who was a master of Grande cuisine classified the sauces into recognizable procedures, and Aguste Escoffier who refined the classified sauces into “Families” are still recognized and taught to culinary enthusiasts today. The mother sauces that Escoffier recognized are Bechamel, Veloute, Espangnole, Tomato, and Hollandaise (emulsification sauce). Sauces were invented for flavor, meat tenderizer, color, and added moisture to add to dishes. Alternate Methods include Pan Sauces, These are made simply by thickening the juices left in the pan after sauteing.
De-glaze the pan by adding a little water or wine to dissolve the bits of food in the bottom. Then reduce or thicken. Puree sauces are made by Adding a puree of vegetables to a sauce will thicken without adding fat. Roasting the vegetables will give an added fullness that will enrich your sauce immensely. 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. These sauces are basis for hundreds of small sauces that can be seen throughout many different countries.
Not only are they the basis of the classical cuisine but they should be memorized and perused by all who wish to become a chef. This will provide a common knowledge of sauces & what flavors they accompany.