Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Mother Sauces....Espagnole

Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Mayonnaise, Tomato Sauce, and Velouté are the mother sauces of French cuisine. We also have added Beurre Blanc which isn't officially a mother sauce, but it also is a solid base other sauces are built from. Once you know how to make these you can add a few different ingredients to each base to make 100's of different variations.

Espagnole is the true Brown Sauce, it has a strong taste and is rarely used directly on food. As a mother sauce, however, it then serves as the starting point for many derivative sauces, such as: Sauce Africaine, Sauce Bigarade, Sauce Bourguignonne, Sauce aux Champignons, Sauce Charcutiere, Sauce Chasseur, and Sauce Chevreuil, just to go as far as the "Cs". There are hundreds of other derivatives in the classic French repertoire.

In a restaurant the classic method of making espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux, to which are added several gallons of veal stock or water, along with 20–30 lb of browned bones, pieces of beef, many pounds of vegetables, and various seasonings. This blend is allowed to slowly reduce while being frequently skimmed. The classical recipe calls for additional veal stock to be added as the liquid gradually reduces but today water is generally used instead. Tomato sauce is added towards the end of the process, and the sauce is further reduced.

A typical espagnole recipe takes many hours or even several days to make, and produces four to five quarts of sauce. In most derivative recipes, however, one cup of espagnole is more than enough, so that the basic recipe will yield enough sauce for 16 to 20 meals. Frozen in small quantities, espagnole will keep practically indefinitely.

Espagnole, and Veloute is a project I like to do on in either Late Spring, or Fall on a rainy weekend to pass the time while watching some football on TV. When I do it try to make four different types of stocks, veloutes, or other base sauces at the same time. It is sort of like pickling, and preserving. I pour them in individual foam containers, and freeze them in 1/2 cup, or 1 cup portions.

Basic Brown Stock

Yield: 2 gallons


8 pounds veal marrow bones sawed into 2-inch pieces
6 pounds beef marrow bones sawed into 2-inch pieces
16 ounces tomato paste
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chopped celery
4 cups dry red wine
1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
16 quarts of water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the bones in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour. Remove the bones from the oven and brush with the tomato paste. In a mixing bowl, combine the onions, carrots, and celery together. Lay the vegetables over the bones and return to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the roasting pan on the stove and deglaze the pan with the red wine, using a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned particles.

Put everything into a large stockpot. Add the bouquet garni and season with salt. Add the water. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the stock for 4 hours, skimming regularly. Remove from the heat and strain through a China cap or tightly meshed strainer.

Espagnole Sauce

2 gallon brown stock, hot
3 cups brown roux
1/2 cup bacon fat
4 cups chopped onions
2 cup chopped carrots
2 cup chopped celery
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato puree
1 bouquet garni

In a stock pot, whisk the hot stock into the roux. In a large saute pan, heat the bacon fat. Add the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir the tomato puree into the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato/vegetable mixture to the stock/roux mixture. Add the bouquet garni and continue to simmer, skimming as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for about 45 minutes. Strain the sauce through a China cap.


Madeira sauce: Espagnole sauce mixed with Madeira wine.

Mushroom sauce: Espagnole sauce and mushrooms.

Bordelaise sauce: Espagnole sauce with red wine, shallots and herbs.

Lyonnaise sauce: Espagnole sauce with chopped onions, parsley and white wine.

Charcuterie Sauce: Espagnole sauce with chopped onions, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, white wine.

Sauce Africaine: Espagnole sauce, tomato, chopped onions, chopped bell pepper, salt, garlic white wine, basil, parley, bay leaf, and thyme.

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