The Five Pillars of Good Sauces

French Mother SaucesDuring the 19th century, Marie-Antoine Carême anointed tomato sauce, Velouté, Béchamel, and Espagnole as the primary foundation for other sauces. Eventually, he added Hollandaise to the list. His building blocks resulted in others experimenting with other sweet and savory sauces around the world.

Some chefs argue that chocolate sauce and chimichurri matter most, but knowing about the mother sauces improves your confidence in the kitchen. All you need are simple ingredients (e.g. liquid, flour, and butter) and some easy techniques.

The Secrets of the Sauces

It’s not just the flavor that matters. According to Custom Culinary, the texture of your demi glace gold sauce, for example, is actually the telling element. Can you drizzle, pour, or dollop it properly? Making the sauce stable and thick should be the point of your cooking.

Velouté and Béchamel

If you love the classic macaroni and cheese or lasagna, you’re no stranger to the creaminess of Béchamel. The basic form combines cream and roux; if you’re into experimenting, adding other ingredients creates new sauces. Cooking some Mornay sauce includes a dab of Parmesan or gruyere.

As for your Velouté, it all begins with a white roux mixed with chicken, fish, or veal. It’s not a finished sauce; it’s more of a starting point for shrimp sauces, gravies, and mushroom sauces. If you wish for a more vegetarian option, mushroom stock combined with thyme works.

Espagnole, Tomato, and Hollandaise

Blonde roux might have more fun, but espagnole proves that darker options also work. The brown sauce begins with some beef stock, deglazed beef bones, and mirepoix. You can also add spices and a dollop of tomato paste.

Tomato and hollandaise sauces are no strangers for sauce lovers. Often, the former is just a mix of tomatoes, onions, and garlic. While roux is the place to start, some sauces depend on tomatoes for flavor. Hollandaise, on the other hand, is fancy mayonnaise with clarified butter often drizzled on eggs and asparagus.

These are the five pillars of sauce-making. As a cook, you should know these foundational bases for a more adventurous take in your kitchen.