Though many of us are hustlin’ through the week begging for Instant Pot recipes and one-pot curries, it’s nice to hit the kitchen on a Sunday to make a carefully crafted meal. But after so many quickie skillet meals, how does one get their groove back? The mother sauces, of course. There are five essential sauces in the culinary world that are derived from French cuisine and are regarded as the most valuable contributions to modern-day eats. Mastering these blends are the ticket to tackling any sauce, gravy, or jus, and we’re happy to get you started.
1. Béchamel Sauce: This might be the easiest of the mother sauces, since it only calls for three basic ingredients: butter, flour, and milk. The butter and flour are melted down and used to thicken the milk as it warms over the stove, resulting in a creamy and silky sauce. Hit it with some S + P, and you’ve got the building block to a dreamy cheese sauce for your homemade mac. You can also use this in other pasta bakes, like white lasagnas or creamy casseroles. (via The Cook’s Pyjamas)
2. Velouté Sauce: Much like béchamel, a velouté is pretty simple: Just replace the milk with a white stock, like chicken or fish stock. As it simmers away, the roux thickens into a sauce that can serve as a base. Need ideas? A chicken velouté fortified with cream will give you a bomb suprême sauce; adding wine to a fish velouté will leave you with a sophisticated white wine sauce. (via The Reluctant Gourmet)
3. Espagnole Sauce: Sometimes referred to as brown sauce, Espagnole is a bit more involved — but totally worth it. It’s similar to the velouté in that you’re thickening stock with a roux, albeit dark stock in this case, but it also calls for tomato purée and mirepoix. Traditionally, Espagnole is further refined to produce a savory and full-bodied demi-glace, or equal parts Espagnole and brown stock. If you want to impress your fam with a rich mushroom sauce or a port wine sauce, start with this. (via Epicurious)
3. Classic Tomato Sauce: Most cooks, whether classically trained or self-taught, have their own tried-and-true red sauce. But this particular one is included in the mother sauces for a reason: It boasts much more flavor and calls for a few extra steps. First, salt pork is rendered and sautéed with aromatic vegetables. The tomatoes are added along with stock and a ham bone, and it’s all left to cook for a couple of hours. Pro tip: It’s best to leave it cooking in the oven for even heat distribution. (via The Kitchn)
5. Hollandaise Sauce: If you’ve ever indulged in a classic Eggs Benedict at brunch, then you’re familiar with the wonder that is Hollandaise. This sharp and buttery sauce is whipped up by slowly whisking clarified butter into warm egg yolks. Don’t use regular butter when making Hollandaise, as it contains milk solids and water which will just break your sauce. Clarified butter, meanwhile, is nothing but pure butterfat. This good stuff goes beyond eggs too! It’s fabulous drizzled over seafood and vegetables. (via Leite’s Culinaria)
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