The Mother Sauces, also known as “Grand Sauces”, are the fundamentals of classical French cuisine. These are the five sauces that every cook should know and master. Thousands of derivative sauces can be categorized under the five Mother Sauces and the possibilities for variations are infinite.
The five Mother Sauces are.
Béchamel: a white sauce made of milk and white roux
Velouté: a light blond sauce made with blond roux and light stock.
Espagnole: a brown sauce and made with brown roux and brown stock.
Tomato: a red sauce based on… you guessed it, tomatoes. It is a great sauce to make in large volume. It freezes well and can be used on various dishes. It is the base for a large variety of sauces in today’s cookery.
Hollandaise: a yellow warm sauce and Mayonnaise, a cold white sauce, both of them are an emulsion made with eggs and fat.
Roux is made from equal parts fat and flour, blended together over heat. Any kind of fat can be used, from the classic butter to margarine, but, there will be a taste difference when using different kinds of fats, so you will need to adjust for flavor and add spices/seasonings at your own discretion. Note, it is easier to thin a sauce than to thicken it. If you make too much roux, it can be stored in your fridge for up to a week or placed in a container in your freezer for up to a year.
There are three kinds of roux = white, blond and brown. The difference between each roux is how long they are cooked. White roux is barely cooked; blond roux is cooked, depending on the size of the batch, for 10-20 minutes or until it exhibits a uniform blond color and smells of cooked nuts. Brown roux is cooked longer, and again depending on the amount it can take 15-30 minutes and should have a brown color and rich nutty smell. Roux is used to thicken liquids thereby creating a rich, flavorful sauce. When making blond and brown roux it is very important to consistently stir the roux to make sure it does not burn. Once it’s burnt, the bitter taste will never go away. If you do burn it, which can happen, it is best to start over.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.