There’s nothing like a good sauce to transform the most basic dish into something oh-so-bright. And as much as we love a modern hot or pasta sauce, who doesn’t enjoy the classics from time to time? These 25 recipes focus in on an untouchable class of French culinary tradition: the mother sauces. Together, the five — mayonnaise (okay, some teach tomato instead, but I think we can agree that’s not nearly as much fun as transforming eggs and oil into a luxe spread full of possibilities ;), hollandaise, bechamel, veloute and espagnole — form a solid foundation on which countless other sauces are built, all while teaching a bit of technique — from dicing to whisking — at the same time. Below, we guide you through how to make each of the five plus a host of variations. Who’s ready for a little school, Brit + Co style?
1. Olive Oil Mayonnaise: It’s pretty magical what happens when egg yolks and oil are blended together; the result is a creamy spread unlike any you’ll find in a jar. Play around with various oil combos to make this mayo your own. (P.S. Worried about salmonella? Seek out pasteurized eggs, so you don’t have to miss out.) (via Kitchen Konfidence)
3. Tuna Salad With Avocado, Toasted Walnuts and Garlic Mayo: Not your ordinary tuna salad sandwich, this grown-up version belongs in your lunchbox. (via Cook With Life)
7. Mushroom Steak and Chips With Bearnaise Sauce: Add a touch of shallot, tarragon and pepper to hollandaise and what do you get? One next-level bearnaise sauce that makes portobello mushrooms taste more like a steakhouse-worthy special. (via Delicious Everyday)
8. Savory Oatmeal With Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce: Oh yes, this savory oatmeal has it going on. Avocado, cheese, ham, a runny-yolk egg and hollandaise make this one seriously tasty breakfast bowl with staying power. (via What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today)
9. Butternut Squash Cheesy Corn Cakes With Gruyere Hollandaise: A sneaky addition of gruyere may not be traditional, but it adds a wonderful nuttiness to the mix, and pairs beautifully with a stack of savory cakes. (via Cooking and Beer)
13. Kentucky Hot Brown on a Biscuit: Adding a few shreds of cheese to your bechamel gives you a whole new sauce: mornay. Here it joins biscuits, tomato, turkey, bacon and eggs to create an elegant upgrade to a classic Kentucky hangover cure, the Hot Brown. (via Seven Spoons)
16. Veloute: Add a little continental flair to your Thanksgiving feast by swapping out the usual gravy with veloute. No turkey drippings required, it comes together in a flash with just butter, flour and your preferred poultry stock. (via Martha Stewart)
17. Steak Allemande: Now this is one sexy steakhouse meal that both your sweetie AND your budget will surely thank you for. Across between veloute and hollandaise, the allemande sauce works just as well over chicken if you’re not feeling beef. (via Feeding Andy)
20. Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies: A smattering of crisped pancetta makes these bean- and veggie-packed pies taste way richer than they are; a nice change from the usual chicken filling. (via Smitten Kitchen)
21. Beef Tenderloin With Espagnole Sauce: Brown sauce (another name for espagnole) may sound totally blah, but trust that it packs a ton of flavor into every spoonful. We’re talking a roux-thickened beef stock reduction enhanced by a handful of caramelized veggies — sounds good, right? (via My Fiance Likes It So It Must Be Good)
22. Demi Glace (Gluten-Free): Reduce a mix of espagnole sauce and stock by half to create the time-consuming (but totally worth it) demi glace. It’s terrific as a sauce on its own, or as the base for even more classic sauces. (via Salvation Sisters)
24. Pork Tenderloin With Sauce Robert: Using store-bought demi glace means you’ll have a tasty onion- and butter-boosted sauce ready to dab atop quick-cooking pork tenderloin in no time at all. (via Lost Past Remembered)
Alright, who’s ready to start saucing everything in sight? Which one of these classics strikes your fancy most of all. Let’s talk below!