What is a sauce? Sauces derived from classic French cooking defined as a thickened liquid to complement a dish. There may be solid food components in with a sauce, such as chutney. Within French cuisine are the five mother sauces of classic French cuisine. Early in the 19th century Chef Antoine Careme classified four sauces. Then early 20th century Chef Auguste Escoffier updated the list to the recognized the five Mother sauces. Modern French cuisine the mother sauces, enhanced with different flavorings to produce “small sauces”. The mother sauces and small sauces known by their liquid ingredient contents.
Five mother sauces of classic French cuisine are:
Béchamel is a white sauce which has a milk base and thickened with a blonde roux. referred to as a “white” sauce the Béchamel is one of the most used of the base sauces.
A veloute is a white stock (veal, chicken or seafood) and thickened with a white roux. A veloute referred to by the stock that used such as a “chicken veloute”.
A Tomat is a tomato-based sauce thickened with or without a roux. The liquid in a tomato sauce comes from the tomato itself. Water or stock added as the sauce cooks. The sauce cooks for longer times to develop the flavors.
An Espagnole is a brown sauce using veal stock as a base and thickened with a dark roux. The base of an Espagnole sauce made from a stock of roasted veal bones and a roux. Longer cook time permits this development of a rich character.
Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion, prepared by whisking together egg yolks, butter and lemon or vinegar. The ingredients make a thickened, pudding like consistency.
In addition, I have seen vinaigrette classified as a small sauce of the Hollandaise group. A vinaigrette’s use as a salad “dressing” can be a cause of it not being in the five Mother sauces.
The five mother sauces of classical French cuisine need skill in preparation. Chefs make a living out of being specialists in sauces alone, a Saucier. If a stock is the base of a sauce, then prepare it skimmed, free of fats. Learn how to make the five mother sauces and you will never run out of culinary ideas.