Mother Sauces Made Simple

Mother Sauces Made Simple

by Toni Elkhouri Chef / Owner of Cedar's Cafe in Melbourne, FL

What is a mother sauce? Does it tuck you into bed at night? Does it constantly hassle you about your budget or your business strategies? Is "mother sauce" a reference to Girls Night Out when women just can't take the terrible twos or teenage years of their children anymore? Not exactly. Mother sauces in classical French cooking are the five families of sauce upon which every other sauce is formed. Memorize these five sauces, and everything else involving cooking is generally a breeze.

But first, before we get to the mother sauces themselves, let's talk about roux, the mother of three out of the five mother sauces.


5 types of Roux


Roux: Equal parts wheat flour & fat (usually clarified butter or vegetable oil)

Roux is one of the most commonly used thickeners in sauces, made from equal parts flour and fat by weight. First, the fat is heated or melted in a saucepan over medium low heat, then the wheat flour is added to the heated fat and stirred continuously until the flour begins to smell toasty for white roux (usually 2-3 minutes) or longer until desired color is achieved. Differences in color change both the flavor and the purpose of the roux, as wheat flour loses its thickening ability as it cooks, but gains flavor.



Bechamel (white sauce): White roux + milk + nutmeg

Classically served with: Eggs, fish, poultry, steamed vegetables, pastas, veal

Method: Make a white roux. Whisk in scalded milk and nutmeg, stirring continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Common Derivatives:

•Aomard à l'Anglaise - Bechamel + anchovy + cayenne + lobster

•Cardinal - Bechamel + fish stock + truffle + cream + lobster butter

•Crème - Bechamel + cream + lemon juice

•Mornay - Bechamel + butter + Gruyère &/or Parmesan cheese

•Nantua - Bechamel + mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot) cooked in crawfish butter + crawfish + white wine + cognac + tomatoes + cayenne

•Soubise - Bechamel + chopped onion sautéed in butter

•Oeufs à l'Anglaise - Bechamel + diced hard boiled egg + nutmeg



Veloute: White roux + white stock

Classically served with: Eggs, fish, poultry, steamed vegetables, pastas, veal

Method: Make a white roux. Whisk in hot stock, stirring continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Common Derivatives:

•Allemande - Veloute made with veal stock + mushrooms

•Normande - Veloute made with fish stock + mushrooms + oysters + egg yolk + butter + cream

◦Diplomate - Sauce Normande + lobster butter + lobster + truffle

◦Suprême - Veloute made with chicken stock + reduced heavy cream

◦Aurore - Sauce Suprême + tomato

           ◦Hongroise - Sauce Suprême + onion + paprika + white wine

•Vin Blanc - Veloute made with fish stock + shallot + butter + herbs (thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives, etc.)



Espagnole (brown sauce): Dark roux + veal stock + mirepoix + bouquet garni

Classically served with: Roasted meats

Method: Sauté mirepoix in butter in a saucepan. In another saucepan, make a dark roux, then whisk in hot veal stock. Add the cooked mirepoix to the sauce, along with the bouquet garni. Simmer 30-45 minutes, skimming as necessary. Strain before serving, salt and pepper to taste.

Common Derivatives:

•Demi-glace - Espagnole + veal stock reduction

•Bourguignonne - Espagnole + red wine + shallot + bouquet garni + butter

•Bordelaise - Espagnole + red wine reduction + poached marrow

•aux Champignons - Espagnole + butter + shallot + mushroom

•Chasseur - Espagnole + mushrooms + shallot + white wine

•Lyonnaise - Espagnole + chopped onions sautéed in butter

•Madeira - Madeira wine

•Périgueux - Espagnole + chopped truffles + madeira

•Robert - Espagnole + white wine + onions + mustard + butter



Hollandaise: Egg yolk + butter + lemon juice + white wine vinegar + cayenne

Classically served with: Eggs, vegetables, poultry, fish, beef

Method: Heat egg yolks, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, & cayenne in a double boiler. Whisk in melted butter until smooth. Serve immediately or keep warm in a double boiler over no higher than medium-low heat to prevent curdling or separation. Salt and pepper to taste.

Common Derivatives:

•Bavaroise - Hollandaise + horseradish + thyme + bay + parsley + vinegar + crawfish + crawfish tails garnish

•Béarnaise - Hollandaise + tarragon + chervil

◦Choron - Béarnaise with tomato

           ◦Foyot - Bearnaise with demi-glace

•Maltaise - Hollandaise + blood orange zest &/or juice

•Mousseline - Hollandaise + whipped cream

•Noisette - Hollandaise made with brown butter

•Paloise - Hollandaise + mint



Tomato: Pork belly + carrot + shallot + blond roux + tomato + tomato paste + stock + garlic + bay + thyme

Classically served with: Pasta, fish, grilled vegetables, polenta, veal, poultry

Method: Render the fat from the pork (Place the pork in the saucepan with 1 T water over medium heat. Cover for 5 minutes), then sauté the carrot and shallot in the pork fat. Sprinkle the flour for the roux over the cooked vegetables. When a blond roux has been achieved, add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, garlic, and herbs. Simmer 2+ hours. Puree, then strain for a smooth sauce, or leave as is for a chunkier sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.


•Chaufroid - Tomato sauce + aspic jelly

•Meat - Tomato sauce + cooked ground meat

•Portugaise - Tomato sauce + fried onions, tomato concassé + meat glaze + garlic + parsley

•Provençal - Tomato sauce + sliced mushrooms + white wine + sugar + garlic + parsley + butter

Ingredients provided by : Amoretti Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Dei Fratelli